Cult Figures; Deritend, Yes Mate!

It’s not just me, is it? Eighteen seconds into the Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary, you know, when it breaks, and you’re like, that’s it, right there. It matters not what youth culture you were into, at the time, or even now, it doesn’t give a hoot about your favoured genres, haircut, colour of anorak, age, gender or race, it just does it, and you, you’re like, as I said, that’s it, right there.

Something similar happens with this Cult Figures album Deritend, out last week; heck, if they haven’t even got a comparable name. Perhaps not so nostalgia-filled, as these are all originals, though the sound harks back to an era or yore, when cookies were in a biscuit barrel rather than your web browser, Tories were governed a demoness made from iron rather than a clown made of teddy bear stuffing, and a wet wipe was when your mum spat into a handkerchief and wiped it over your Space-Dust covered chops.

Mind, as happens when I’m sent files not numbered, it lists them alphabetically rather than in the running order, so the opening track is actually the penultimate Camping in the Rain, but it makes the perfect intro into the world of these London-based masters of retrospection. From its off, it’s, well, off, leaving me to reminisce about those classic post-punk new wave bands of the eighties. At times though, as it’s a mesh of this and reflective of the scooterist mod culture of same period, I’m thinking of the likes of the Jam and Merton Parkas too. Contemplate the musical differences are subtle, though worlds apart at the time, and this sits comfortably somewhere in-between.

To add to their perfection of authenticity, one must note this is the second album from Cult Figures, and is comprised of tracks written in their earlier incarnation between 1977 and 1980, just recorded more recently.

The real opening tune, Chicken Bones, has the same impact, something beguiling and anthemic, setting the way it’s going to go down. Donut Life, which follows, sounds like carefree pop, the Chords, for a comparison. In fact, as it progresses the guitar riffs of next tune, Lights Out, is sounding more pre-gothic, Joy Division, yet with a catchy whistle more akin to The Piranhas. Things get really poignant with Exile, almost dub Visage meets the Clash, and Omen extenuates the seriousness of a running theme.  

“Deritend draws a line under the past,” they explain, “all eleven tracks composed and recorded since our 2016 comeback, simultaneously reflecting a maturity gained in 40 years of life experience, whilst still embracing the accessible three Ps of the early days; punk, pop and psychedelia.” The album’s title owes to a historic industrial area outside Birmingham’s centre, “a few miles from where Gary and I grew up.”

The mysterious iconic name was a bus route terminus and has a strong emotional connection to the band, “evoking the nervous excitement of those long rides into town on our way to Barbarellas. But it conveys so much more: Deritend is an album that reflects on the past, speculates on the future, but for the most part is fairly and squarely a comment on the lives we are living now.” They convey this well, for through its retrospection, subject matter, growing up with the dilapidation of a working-class industrial chip, could equally apply to then, or now.

A timeless piece of art within a captivating musical style which embraces the traditions of generation X, just curled up at an edge like an old poster on the congregated iron fence of a closed factory. I mean Silver Blades and White Noise crave you dive back into punk; there’s a definite Clash feel to the latter. As girl’s names for titles generally do, Julie-Anne is archetypical upbeat but themed of desire, and the sound of it is particularly challenging to pin down, there’s Weller there, but a drum roll you’d expect Annabella Lwin to surface from (of Bow Wow Wow if you need to, Google it, youngster!)

Most bizarre and experimental is the brilliantly executed talky sound of Concrete and Glass. Cast your mind back to 86, if poss, remember Jim’s tune, yeah? Driving Away From Home by It’s Immaterial, and you’re not far from the mark.

The aforementioned Camping in the Rain which could’ve been the opening track, is next, and it’s the epithet of all we’ve mentioned. This combination is not juxtaposed cumbersomely like a tribute act, rather the genuine article lost in time, and it, well, in a nutshell, absolutely rocks. The finale, Privilege is plentiful to summarise; Clash-styled punk rock, themed on the expectations of irritated propertyless youth, akin to Jimmy Cliff’s You Can Get It If You Really Want.

But, unless all you want is a zig-a-zig-ah and to spice up your life with commercialised bubble-gum pop, nothing here is oven-ready for criticism, just relish yourself in a bygone era, and rock.


The Lost Trades Live Stream their new album on Friday; tickets here

Trending……

Song of the Day 33: Andy J Williams

Having a great album reviewed fairly recently on Devizine doesn’t exclude you from being in the spotlight of our Song of the Day posts. And if it ever does, call me out on it. Just ask me who hell I think I am, Vlad the Impaler, or something similar.

Check the review of Buy All That $tuff by Andy, here, or just enjoy today’s video, Night Terrors, exposing where the band practice, under the beds of children, obviously! Which kinda makes we wish I was a kid again, as there were no bands practicing under beds back then. Just once I’d like to have discovered, I dunno, the Bangles perhaps, practicing under my bed!

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….


Protect Drews Pond Wood Area

Local enviromental campaigners are calling on Devizes Town Council to designate ten areas of land around Drews Pond Wood as Local Green Spaces due to their importance for wildlife, health and wellbeing as well as historical significance.

Please sign the petition, here.

Drews Pond Wood Project has looked after the Local Nature Reserve since 1990 to keep it as a special place for wildlife and a resource for local people. They are asking for your help to get more protection for the wood and its surroundings.

The Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan are being reviewed. These plans will decide where to put hundreds more houses in Devizes. These plans shouldn’t just be about where to put development – they also need to identify areas that are special and important for people and wildlife so that they can be protected for the future.

The National Planning Framework enables communities to identify and protect areas that are of value to them through Local and Neighbourhood Plans by designating Local Green Space. This designation ensures strong development restrictions on an area. 

Make no mistake, Drew’s Pond Wood has been earmarked for development, though the application has been rejected, this doesn’t protect the area should future applications are made.

Thanks goes to local environmentalist, Joe Brindle and his team for creating the campaign and raising awareness of this. It is supported by the Drew’s Pond Wood Project.

Please sign the petition, here.


The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole Chapter Two.

Chapter Two: in which we meet the gunman, and Councillor Yellowhead heads out for the mission.

Thought I’d present a weekly story feature, for Sunday entertainment during lockdown…. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Read the first chapter here, if you missed it, else carry on reading for a recap…..

Recap: meeting our intrepid hero, the firm-but-fair Councillor Yellowhead and his trusty sidekick, Grant Briggs at Miltshire County Hall, the chief councillor expressed he had an important mission, but spent too much time insulting the enlisted men, arguing on his state-of-the-art Nokia with the Chief Crime Commissioner, and generally being an arse, to reveal the nature of the mission. Then, a mysterious lone gunman entered the quarters to fire off a machine gun. That’s about the short of it. Our story continues……. 


In the aftermath of machinegun fire, a stony hush filled the quarters, and through the dense smoke, a petite woman appeared. Emotionally frozen, the enlisted men gazed up to her from their hiding places, behind the beds of their dormitory. Councillor Yellowhead pouted in disbelief and turned to his imaginary camera to address it. “Really? Strong female characters now; what depths of depraved political correctness and predictable cliché will this story descend to? It’s becoming nearly as leftie-snowflake as Star Trek Discovery.”

Lowering her machinegun to her side, the strong female character required for this politically correct story sucked her bottom lip and growled, “where are they?!”

“Where are who, Nora Fayes?” Yellowhead inquired sarcastically.

She stormed up to him, aiming the barrel of the gun at his nose, a tiny amount of yellow puss dribbled out of it. “You know full well who, the seagulls! I saw them coming this way. If I have to go through you to get to them, so be it!”

“This is becoming something of an obsession for you, councillor,” Yellowhead uncompromising expressed, raising his face from his palm. “You did your public survey, you’ve announced your abhorrence for gulls, and still fail to note, despite umpteen amendments to the minutes of numerous meetings, there’s no such thing as seagulls, just gulls. We are inland, councillor, do not let Bythesea Road fool you, it doesn’t mean it’s actually by the sea. We are not harbouring birds of any species, here in the enlisted men’s quarters, much to their reasonable disappointment. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we are very busy. My colleague here, and I are preparing for a mission of high priority!”

Slightly insanely, and continuing to aim her rifle at the chief, she circled him, “you don’t look like RSPB, but you cannot trust anyone.” Nora took Brigg’s collar by the fist and curled him closer to her. As he gawked in shock, she popped a small pill into his mouth and spoke sincerely to Briggs. “They’re everywhere, infiltrating their way into society. Do not trust anyone, especially if they have bird poop on their shoulder. If captured do not repeat what I am telling you, if they interrogate you, bite down on this pill, it’s cyanide!”

“Erm,” responded Briggs, “thanks, I think.”

“Pay her no attention, Briggs,” Yellowhead ordered, “she’s cuckoo.”

“Where?!” demanded Nora, spinning to reface Yellowhead, her gun aimlessly free to wander. “Where’s the cuckoo, if I can’t bag me a seagull, I’ll make do with a cuckoo, I’ll paint the fucker white!”

“You are insane, quite clearly!” suggested Yellowhead.

“You are the one who lives in Cuckoo Close,” she accused the chief, and he couldn’t deny it.

“I happen to like Urchfunk,” he informed her, “a place so posh, even the road signs are thatched!”

“I saved a Miltshire Council owned children’s playpark in the village of Rude, from dangerous dilapidations by convincing the parish council to take it sold as seen, with our blood money,” she reminded him, “whereas Urchfunk gets its own doggie playground ten times the size, and better equipped; where is the justice in that?!”

Yellowhead frowned and took hold of the barrel, pointing it to his temple. “Do it, Nora, and my ghost will see to it that it never gets a slide, and the bouncy chicken replaced. There will be not so much as a tacky noughts and crosses block plaything! Playgrounds have always been, and will continue to be as long as I am in command of Miltshire Council, covered in bird shit. It helps build a child’s immune system. Seagulls are a major contributor to this. Now, should you not reconsider and defer, then you just jolly well open fire!”

Nora trembled in fear, weighing her options as the barrel wobbled under her anxiety. The tension was at its apex, Yellowhead encouraged her. “Go on then, Fayes, pull that trigger, finish me for good; you know you want to!”

She thought again, of the paperwork involved, and lowered the gun. Yellowhead snatched it off her. “Ha! Strong female character indeed,” he bellowed with laughter, slapping her behind. “Now jog along, and don’t worry your pretty little face about the gulls. There must be something that needs a good scrub around here, or you could join Hannah Curthbart, she’s finally turned up for work and is doing the dishes in the kitchen.”

She scurried off, as Yellowhead threw the gun on Grant’s cot. “Take this with us, Briggs, it may come in handy when dealing with leftie terrorists subverted into the general public.”

“That was well handled, sir,” Briggs thought it proper to say, despite not believing it himself. If he wasn’t so profuse forming his own opinions, he would be ideal for total conservative emersion, his lie proved this. 

“Thank you,” Yellowhead replied, grasping him on the shoulder in a friendly manner, “I’m warming to you, Briggs, I must say. To think we’ll be out there, in the field together, fighting the good fight.” As he said this, he begun to take off his uniform. “We leave no man behind, Briggs, no retreat, no surrender. We will fight aside each other, eat from the same can, sleep cold nights on the same makeshift beds.”

Briggs considered biting on the cyanide.

“I think you’ll find, Briggs,” Yellowhead continued whilst changing, “when I’m out in the field and the assignment is complete, I tend to let my hair down a bit, you know. We may just get along yet.”

Briggs sighed, “I’m sorry sir, I find that very hard to… oh, you’re wearing hot pants?”

Yellowhead stood proudly displaying a tiny bump in his snug florescent-coloured short shorts, barely visible at all under the folds of dense tummy bulge. “We have to blend in with the natives,” he publicised. “What do you think, Briggs, no flattery cos I’m the boss, I don’t tolerate brown-tonguing, give me your honest opinion; Dwayne Johnson, yes?”

“More Boris Johnson,” Briggs heaved.

“So critical of fashion,” came the retort, though Yellowhead took it as a compliment.

“It’s just, well, there’s a tad too much flesh on show, sir,” Grant appraised, “this is rural Miltshire, not California. Maybe try a flat cap, green wellies and a Barbour jacket, I mean, if you wish to blend in.”

With that Yellowhead grunted in agreement and instructed Briggs to get the cones and paint. In no time at all he paced the pavement of county hall’s carpark, eyeing a van. Briggs arrived shortly after, laden with cones, spray-paint cans and followed by an irate Nora Fayes. “Gimmie back my gun!” she demanded, “there be seagulls out here, I’m coming with you!”

“You most certainly are not!” commanded Yellowhead. “Load the van, Briggs.”

He clambered into the passenger seat and readjusted his aging posturer, “run along, Fayes, polish the cupboards or whatever it is you women do around here.”

Briggs got into the driver’s seat and started the engine. “Where are we going to?”

“I don’t wish to shock you Briggs, but we’re heading towards Davizes!”

“This gets worse,” Briggs noted, as he pulled out of the carpark. Salivating, Nora leap onto the bonnet, screaming something inaudible about gulls.

“For Christ’s sake, don’t you ever give up?” cried Yellowhead. He mouthed through the windscreen, “we are not hunting gulls, now get off of the van, you silly moo!”

The town centre was void of life, hardly anyone wandered the streets. Not that Briggs could see much, moving his head up and down as Nora bounced around the bonnet, clutching onto the windscreen wipers for dear life. “Drop her off at the shops!” ordered the chief, pointing to a Matalan superstore. Briggs swerved and Nora flew off the bonnet at great speed.

Yellowhead checked the back wheel by thrusting his head outside of the window. Given he felt no bump, he was distraught. “Reading between the lines is a councillor’s number one crucial skill, Briggs. You failed to run her over and finish her off, potentially leaving this story open for a sequel!”

“Really?” Briggs answered, “that’s a bit much!”

“I beg to differ,” Yellowhead said, as he produced a chart from his briefcase. “You get twenty points for a councillor with a tendency to get things done effectively, despite being a Tory. See here, the tally. Fifty points for an immigrant, same for a darkie or a crusty, seventy-five for a single mother with child.”

“Who are you, Frankenstein from Death Race 2000 now?” Briggs inquired, “that’s sick! No wonder you don’t want the pavements widened!”

“Not at all, Briggs, as I told the Gazelle and Herod, I like living in country roads and I like living in country villages with little lanes. I’ve got no pavements at all where I live whatsoever, that’s the way I like it.”

“So you can mow down dissidents?”

“It was just a joke, Briggs,” Yellowhead irritably explained, “you do realise it was just a joke? Upholding tradition is why we don’t need silly pavements things, and anyway, we don’t have single mothers, immigrants or wogs in Urchfunk. You see what I mean, Briggs, about me letting my hair down when out in the field? Laughing and joking is what I’m all about.”

A cold silence followed, until Briggs broke it in his best sarcastic tone. “You could get booked for the Brexit Festival with a comedy routine like that, sir. God knows, they need some acts besides Morrisey.”  

Avoiding suspected sardonic overtones, Yellowhead slipped a compact disc into the radio, “ah, you like music?”

Briggs sighed, expecting the worst. Yellowhead begun to sing, encouraging Briggs to do likewise. “And did those feet in ancient time,” he bellowed out of time and tune, at the top of his voice. “Walk upon England’s mountains green!”

“Could I ask what the nature of our,” Briggs swallowed, “mission, erm, is, sir?”

“Not now,” Yellowhead replied, plucking his Adam’s apple, “and was the holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen! And did the Countenance Divine, shine forth upon our clouded hills?!”

“Please, sir?” Briggs wasn’t too proud to beg. Not understanding why anyone would want to build Jerusalem here, anyway, but mostly because he wanted Yellowhead to stop the hymn, more desperately than anything he had ever wanted before.

It was at the point of “bring me my chariot of fire!” when the front tyre bounced up and took the van slightly off-guard, the back wheel then struck the same obstruction. “What in the good name of Nigel Farage was that, Briggs?!” Yellowhead exclaimed.

“Just a pothole,” Briggs observed.

“I’ve never experienced one quite that badly,” Yellowhead followed.

“In fairness, you probably wouldn’t have,” Briggs offered, “in your Land Rover Discovery, sir.”

“Not even in the Porsche Cayenne,” Yellowhead added. “Little wonder why there’s a tendency for the chavs to complain. I mean, I can’t understand why they’d not just get themselves a Porsche Cayenne like me, but ours is not to reason why, Briggs. Is this Davizes? We should stop, get some light refreshments.”

“Quite sir,” the sarcasm doubling with every reply Grant made, “makes one wonder. But I’m fine sir, I don’t need a drink.”

“Nonsense, on the drinks! Good on the notion!” Yellowhead nodded, “I’m glad we agree on that much, young Briggs. You see, you asked as to the nature of the mission, and quite accidently, but also literally, you fell right into it! As you know, Briggs, the procedure when a member,” he huffed in anger at the thought of having to say the word, “of the public complains about a pothole, is to file it until such a time we receive over a hundred or so similar complaints regarding the same pothole. A report can then be drawn out and raised at the next monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter should be addressed a report will be extracted from the minutes and filed. Once the file reaches over a hundred or so reports the issue can be raised once more at the monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter of the matters of files should be addressed, then a vote is taken. If the vote is successful, a councillor is drawn out of the hat to file a report and raise the issue that the Highways Agency need to be contacted, at the next monthly meeting. If all councillors agree the matter of matters should be addressed, and the Highways Agency need to be contacted, a report will be extracted from the minutes and Highways Agency will be contacted. After the supplement report to the Highways Agency is complete, it will be raised at the next monthly meeting that the supplement report to the Highways Agency is complete, and they will file a report to send a worker to the pothole, in a van, and he will assess the significance of the pothole and carry out a risk assessment. That assessment will be sent back to the council to be assessed, and should the funds become available, it will be raised at the next monthly meeting, and voted on. If the vote is successful, and all councillors agree the matter of matters should be addressed, and the Highways Agency has been contacted satisfactorily, then they will file a report back to the Highway Agency, who will send another worker out in a van to spray-paint a yellow circle around the pothole, or if it’s significantly deep, he will pop a traffic cone in it. Now, the confusion comes when all councillors have agreed, but the file…….”

“Sir!” Briggs protested, “I’ve, erm, changed my mind, I would like a drink after all.”


Will our intrepid heroes ever reach Davizes, without boring themselves into an early grave, reciting council procedures? Will Councillor Nora Fayes ever get to kill a seagull in cold blood again? And why the hell can’t a pavement be widened for safety purposes because it doesn’t fit in with the traditional looking village roadside, but a Hermes driver can dump his van in the middle of the green? Will we find out next week in: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!    

Crossed Wires with a Timid Deer

OMG, and coming from someone who refuses to use OMG on principle, rather than its blasphemous connotations, that old dogs, new tricks, I don’t usually conform to trending words or abbreviations. I just don’t get the irony. I mean, kids use the word sick to mean something that’s good. Why can’t they just use wicked like we used to do?

Anyway, it’s my third music review of the day, and while I may be knocking them out, tangents tend to creep in without apologies. But here’s my new favourite discovery while washing the dishes, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, a band I’ve seen listed here and there, supporting our Lost Trades, a track I loved on Screamlite’s New Hero Sounds NHS fundraising compilation, et all, but had yet to delve fully into. And the result is the reason I used OMG despite all I said about it.

Ah yeah, at the Lost Trades launch at the Pump!

All I will say is, if our mission is to seek out new local music, new bands and boldly go where no blog has blogged before, Captain Kirk needs a crew therefore so do I. Mind you, my own daughter suggests I look more like Suru on Discovery, which I beg to differ; the guy walks like the back end of a donkey while I’ve got the more Charlie Chaplin swagger, and I excuse another tangent. Why didn’t someone least hint, oi, Worrow, I reckon you’d like Timid Deer, reckon its right up your street?

Before I’d even put the fairy liquid in the sink, I’m warmed to these mellow electronic and soulful vibes. Akin to Portishead and Morcheeba, without the need to be locked in the nineties trip hop era, Timid Deer is a blessing in the indie-fuse of euphoric keys by Tim, with Tom on double bass, guitarist Matt, drummer Chris, and the mind-blowingly gifted vocals of Naomi, who has the vocal strength of Mayyadda, but with the childlike uniqueness of Bjork.

The name-your-price single Crossed Wires came out end of last month, unbeknown to me. An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.

There are two gorgeous previous albums, Mountains stretches back as far as 2012 and Melodies for Nocturnal from 2019, and there you go, see, I’m nocturnal, why didn’t someone nudge me further towards this great band? I dunno, if a jobs worth doing…..


Trending….

Osorio With Cutsmith

After fondly reviewing the single Falling from ReTone’s homegrown drum n bass label SubRat last May, the Pewsey-based vocalist featured, Cutsmith, who also runs the label, has his debut single under the name out in a manner of days, and I’ll whisper to you now, it’s outstandingly good.

On a musical journey due to be released on SubRat, Osorio returns Cutsmith to his Canarian roots. Principally it’s hip hop, yet with a meshed element of west country acoustic guitar, but chiefly and precisely why it’s so mesmeric, is that Latino tinge. I’m damned if this, aside the missing wailing electric guitar, wouldn’t look out of place on Carlos Santana’s classic 1999 album Supernatural.

Yet that said, the practise of a Latino hip/trip hop blend influencing modern reggae should not be cited via the mainstream, but pioneered in the nineties by artists like Ky Mani, and what Jus Right is putting out now. Osorio would mould nicely with these, rather than reggaeton, which is something I admit still needs to find a place in my affections. Yet Cutsmith is not Wyclef Jean, hence there’s something definitely local when he slips neatly from song to rap, and it’s smoothly accomplished, brewing with confidence.

In theme, but, and this is a big but, not in style, there’s something like Totally Tropical about it too! When, you know, they sang “we’re going to Barbados,” in as much as there’s a homesick notion to Osorio, excepting of his love of the British festival and music scene, but partly wishes to soak up some exotic sunshine and ambience. Can’t say I blame him really!

The very reason I’m tipping this so much, is because the subject works so incredibly well with the sound. As well as it’s fresh and exciting, the prospect of Wiltshire-based hip hop is something we so desperately need more of.

If Cutsmith’s relationship with Devizine got off to a shaky start when playing a White Bear Sunday session, where our writer Andy was critical that while good, it wasn’t his cup of tea, it’s been fully mended now. I spoke personally to Cutsmith at the time, who took it in good stead, and I said it was a shame it wasn’t me at the Bear at that weekend. Opinion is all we can cast, and while trying to be fair I do ask for honesty, it’s not worth the effort if flattery is all the reader gets. Oh, woe is the subjective nature of casting a review, as for the areas Andy was critical of, are the precise same reasons why I’ve got lots of time for Cutsmith’s music.

A case of differing tastes and perhaps a generational thing. But whatever, this debut single proves it today; it’s a grand job, I love it, and I’d like to see Cutsmith working on an EP or album as the potential is overwhelming.


The Space Between Mike Clerk Ears….

My teenage daughter’s banter knows no limits. Upon noting I was wearing a logoed T-shirt the Swindon sound system “Mid Life Krisis” kindly sent, she responded thus; “you can’t wear that, you’re too old for a midlife crisis!” There comes a time in life when you have to cut your losses, realise there’s no longer a point in assessing prospects and goals, and getting upset you failed to reach them. The anguish of youth is but a fleeting memory, and you’re numb to life, rather than wallowing in self-pity you’re neither here nor there on achievements and failures, simply plodding on worrying more about earwax or teeth issues.

It’s the reason I absorb indie-rock with a squint, but then I’ve never felt like barging through pedestrians like Richard Ashcroft, ignorant to the fact others have issues far outreaching my own. I cannot abide themes of despair and downright dark subject matter without reasonable motive; they do nothing to cheer me up. Music from my childhood spat rebellious notions that the world was shit, then electronica came and we went off into the fields and warehouses waving our arms in the air, throwing our troubles away. There was never despair on the rave scene, no woeful self-analysis and no political tirade, until they came for us.    

Yet to expect a thoroughly negative review from me is rare, and for the debut album of Mike Clerk, The Space Between my Ears, I have to confess it does what it says on the tin, and does it very well. There’s thoughtful prose, if rather negatively, but it doesn’t trudge on as my niggling criticisms over much indie; at times there’s uplifting riffs, but the theme is unfortunately despondent. Has Mike never heard of the “every cloud” idiom?  

Many, say younger people, will love this with bells on, though, and for that much this is a damn fine album, if not my cup of tea. See, I like it when our George Wilding does melancholy in a pub, because he does it so well. Heck, the guy even bought me to reconsidering the worth of Radiohead! And similarly, there’s a tinge of euphoria in the way this former frontman of The Lost Generation, plays this out, musically. Lyrically I was left waiting for the silver lining, which simply doesn’t arrive, and this does nothing for maintaining my interest.

The proficiency and skill on show here is top dollar, Clerk has a blinding pedigree of experience in the music industry; the band played exclusive gigs for the NME, Alan McGee’s Death Disco club nights, and Clerk had a close call with guitar duties for Primal Scream. A GoFundMe campaign put the ball in motion for his solo career, The Space Between My Ears was the result, released yesterday (26th March.)

Written and recorded almost-entirely by Clerk at his own home studio, additional drum sessions took place at the local YMCA in Kirkcaldy. With contributions from sound-engineer Alan Ramsey, the album was mastered by Pete Maher of whom has the likes of The Rolling Stones, U2, and Paul Weller on his résumé. This stamp of professionalism shows through in the rewarding sound.

I’m supposing lockdown has bought a natural movement towards misery. Clerk’s words inspired by isolation and the endless roll of apocalyptic news, flow aptly into these themes of redemption, mental health and addiction. If here’s alt-rock’s mainstay, the desolation of unhappiness, I’m going to criticise it. Yes, The Space Between My Ears delivers an acute and perfected mind-set of the human psyche, but like watching a perpetual boxset of EastEnders, it does nothing to turn that frown upside down. And for me, there’s a crucial element to life sorely missing here. Laughter is the best medicine, even if it’s insane giggling like The Joker.

Yet I confess, I like the blues, I like how every morning Muddy Waters wakes up his woman is gone and his dog has died, I crave his misfortune. There’s something beguiling in that authentic twangy guitar sound, which the electric drone of cantankerous indie or alt.rock doesn’t appeal in quite the same manner. Not for me at any rate, but if it does for you, I would ignore the bleating rant of a grouch who’s watching fifty rush over a mountain swiftly towards him, as this album divinely flows and clearly has perfected the art of it!


Trending……

Song of the Day 32: The Lost Trades

Song of the Day hoggers! Yes, they’ve had a song featured on our song of the day feature once before, and yes, they’ve had so many thumbs up on Devizine in general, thumbs are starting to ache, but The Lost Trades have a new song, getting another thumbs up, a sneak from the forthcoming album, and it simply, without question, has to be our song of the day… I’m the editor, what I sez goes, sue me if I’m wrong, I double dare you!

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on….


The Mystery of Nigel G Lowndes

Must have been about fifteen or so years ago, random folk in a pub told me they were off to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was surprised to hear it was still going, and had it in my head its writer, Richard O’Brien had passed away. I pointed this out, and they refuted the fact. Someone pulled a mobile phone out their pocket and, in a flash, proved me wrong. With a virtual reference library at one’s fingertips the lively debate which would’ve, in previous times, circulated around the boozer, was kaput, the potential conversation starter settled, and the pub fell silent.

In the interest of truth, provided it’s a trustworthy source, fact checking is no bad thing. Obviously, I wished no malice on Mr O’Brien, just an incorrect piece of trivia I’d picked up. But it was the first time it occurred to me, sadly, as well as the art of spreading urban myths, we live in an era where any mystery is immediately solved. I mean, loads of money was wasted hoping to find the Loch Ness Monster, but if an Android app actually proves it either way, the myth is ruined. Bristol-based Nigel G Lowndes nails this unfortunate reality in the title track of new album, Hello Mystery.

But whoa, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Mystery is the eighth track of this varied ten track show, released tomorrow (26th March 21.) To commence at the beginning, the direct boomer, Boring screams Talking Heads at me, and I’m left thinking this is going to be an easy ride, one comparison to art-pop and I’m done. But, oh no, far from it. And it’s all because Nigel is a one-man variety show. To conclude there’s elements of tongue-in-cheek loungeroom and easy listening, akin to Richard Cheese or The Mike Flowers Pops, although there largely is, is not to have listened till end, where the finale Always Leaving London, is an acute folk-rock acoustic masterwork.

Track-by-track then is the best method to sum up this highly entertaining album. As I’ve mentioned you’ll start by contemplating he’s a 21st century Talking Heads without the punk edge of the era. But the second song, Tell me Tomorrow would confirm this if it wasn’t so much more vaudeville than the risky titled Boring, (as all of it is far from boring) but it’s becoming clear not to take Nigel too seriously.

When a relationship breakdown, caused by the partner’s affection for some critter-like pets he buys for her is the subject matter for the third, bluegrass parodied song, Furry Little Vampires, it’s become laugh-out-loud funny. Country and doo-wop merge afterwards, but the fifth track, Bubble, has a Casio keyboard samba rhythm with a floating romance theme. What are you doing to me, Nigel?!

As randomly foodie based as Streetband’s Toast, we’re back to uplifting art-pop with the very British notion a cup of tea will sort all your problems out, even psychosis. But random as this is, White Roses, which follows, is a more sombre nod to Nigel’s appreciation of country. Stand alone, it’s a gorgeous ballad; Nigel recognises the need to know the rules in order to break them. As he does by the very next song; Shoes follows country-rock again, but with a sillier, nonsensical subject.

The album plays out on the country tip, its influence seems to build throughout. The aforementioned obituary to mystery is as wonderful in thoughtful narrative as a country classic, and then we’re treated to Always Leaving London. Despite its skipping variety, nothing on Hello Mystery will, as the beguiling opening track shouts, bore you, that much I can guarantee.

If you’re looking for dopily swaying while holding your elongated black and sapphire dyed fringe under your hoody, as a melancholic indie-rock icon miserably recites his teenage anguish with a whining semitone through his nose, then avoid this. For everyone else, Nigel G Lowndes is very worthy of your attention; a sparkly beacon of showbiz, more surprising than a contemporary David Byrne with a Stetson, and when it comes to diversity, it puts The Mike Flowers Pops back on the shelf in the garden centre. Hello Mystery is as it says on the tin, and for this I give it full marks. Johnny Cash pastiche meets Tonight at the London Palladium; love it!


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Spotify Link to Nigel’s singles from the album, released tomorrow, 26th March 2021.


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Disenchanted Webb

Swindon’s one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Webb is about to blow your mind, speakers and pants off with his new EP Disenchanted; I’ve heard it, and live to tell the tale…. First impressions last, and I’m … Continue reading “Disenchanted Webb”

Erin Bardwell Gets Organised

A new album released yesterday from Swindon’s premier reggae keyboardist and producer Erin Bardwell made me contemplate a section of Henri Charrière’s book Papillon. The autobiographical account of a fellow no prison or penal colony can seem to keep incarcerated. There’s a point where Papillon deliberately causes a disturbance in order to be put in solitary confinement. He claims he prefers it to the regular cells, because away from the other inmates, alone in pitch darkness he can reimagine, practically hallucinate and relive his better days.

For the concept of the album and accompanying film Get Organised is largely reminiscing and reflecting on his past. Possibly, I suspect, due to age becoming, the fact this marks a thirtieth anniversary of the formation of his heyday two-tone band, The Skanxters, but largely due to lockdown.

Myself, lockdown has been parttime. I’ve worked throughout, galivanting through the villages, meeting early morning risers, and it’s all been much the same as it ever was, just cannot nip t’ pub, or see family living out of the area. Which is frustrating at times, but I accept it’s not as bad as those shielding and self-isolating; that would’ve driven me insane my now. It’s common in isolation to consider one’s life and recollect, but Erin does it over a reggae beat; and I approve!

We’ve been here before; this is not Erin’s first reflection of lockdown. Pre-pandemic he directed a collective who were pushing new boundaries in rock steady. But April last year saw the solo release of Interval, a deeply personal reflection and mind-blowingly cavernous concept album, diving into the psyche and exploring past events; scarce formula for reggae.

Erin Bardwell

Yet Erin’s style is such; relished in unconformity, individualism and freethinking, factors which make it so utterly unique it’s hard to compare. It’s this standout signature which Erin stamps on all projects, be them solo, as the Collective, or side projects such as the experimental dub of Subject A with Dean Sartain, or The Man on the Bridge project with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, which defines the very sound of reggae in Swindon and puts it on the skanking map. If there was a skanking map, which I wish there was!

Whereas Interval’s morose mood merged styles through experimentation, some often out of the confines of reggae, be they jazz, ambient and space rock, Get Organised will wash better with the matured skinheads, scooterists and Two-Tone aficionados, for it sits with more golden era reggae, particularly of the sixties Trojan “boss” reggae epoch. They tend to know what they like, and favour tradition over risky and radical progressions.

In this notion too it’s sprightlier and more optimistic than Interval, a result of vaccinations and this “roadmap” out of lockdown, perhaps; The Erin Bardwell Trio booked for a gig at Swindon’s Victoria on 1st July. Though at times there’s still the thoughtful prose Erin is fashioned for, reflecting the effect of lockdown. The lyrics of Eight O’clock, for example, which notes despite the usually lively nightlife at this time, the town is quiet.

The Erin Bardwell Collective

They’re all sublimely crafted pieces, the title track’s mellow riff nods to Lee Scratch Perry’s middling Upsetters period with something akin to a tune like Dollar in the Teeth. And in that, we have to consider the great producers of rockers reggae for comparisons, rather than the artists. Aforementioned Perry, but of Niney the Observer, of Harry J too, and Get Organised subtly delves into dub, so I guess King Tubby also. Yet the opening tune reminded me of the earlier, legendary producer Duke Reid.

Erin has the proficiency to cherry-pick elements from reggae’s rich history, effectively merge them and retain this said signature style. The Savoy Ballroom has the expertise keys of Jackie Mittoo, with the vaudeville toytown sound of Madness. That said has opened another Pandora’s box, as Two-Tone also has a significant influence on Get Organised, naturally. The grand finale We Put on that Show is reflective of the era, along the lines of the steady plod of Do Nothing rather than the frenzied ska of Little Bitch, if we’re going to make a Specials contrast, which I think is apt.

Equally, you’re going to love this if, like me, you cite the debut album Signing Off, as UB40’s magnum opus rather than their following pop covers, or just if you’re looking for something different from the norm.

These recollections are visualised in a half-hour video, making it more poignant. It’s a scrapbook film, with homemade clips of The Skanxters setting up or driving to a gig, footage I’d expect to have been largely unseen until now. There’s also a montage of memoirs chronicling Erin’s career, as the camera pans across gig posters, bus tickets, vinyl and press cuttings. Though far from documentary, the sound plays out the album, the material an aid to the songs, and a fascinating art project to accompany it.

 “A second solo album wasn’t really part of the plan,” Erin explains, “but with the current climate as it is, I still found myself coming up with music and songs. These tunes started following a theme, that led to a film idea, and the sounds and visuals grew together influencing each other.”

The point in the early nineties, when the Skanxters were the pride of Swindon’s two-tone scene is captured well, and while those on the circuit, or even living locally then, will love recognising the many memoirs, anyone into the scene at the time will thoroughly enjoy this outing. Overall, though, Erin continues to break boundaries, and this album is a blessing and pleasure to listen to, alone from its narrative and meaning, as all good reggae should.


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Asa is Back in Devizes

Give or take a week, it’s been two years since Devizes Corn Exchange reverberated rock n roll when Liverpool’s entertainer Asa Murphy presented his Buddy Holly tribute show. An amazing fundraising night, in dedication to local music hero Bruce Hopkins, the show had perfect renditions of Buddy’s songs wrapped in a simple narrative to set the scenes, and by the end, Age Concern need not be called as young and old, the audience danced in the aisles!

Deja-vu on many preview pieces we wrote about this time last year, including announcing Asa set to return without the Buddy specs in April with a variety performance and handpicked guest appearances.

Obviously and sadly, it couldn’t be, but I’m pleased to now re-announce the Corn Exchange is booked for this show on October 16th, and will feature the original lineup; superb sixties singer, Sandy Collins and Lennie Anderson, an excellent comic.
Tickets are on sale at Devizes Books, which you can call to secure your seats until the shop is bookshop is open again for business.

For more details you could check last year’s preview, by clicking here; saves me writing it all again, but don’t look directly at the old date, look around that date and concentrate your mind on October 16th 2021! Oh, and I hope to see you there!


Andy J Williams; Buy all his $tuff!

I’m sure it’ll shock you to hear, I made a technical hitch, best described as a cock-up. It seldom happens, blame my masculinity; the wife often reminds me men cannot multi-task. We featured the indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter Andy J Williams last month, as part of our Song of the Day feature, and I promised to review the whole album “Buy all the $tuff,” which was released at the beginning of February.

Musicians you wait for like buses, then two come along at the same time, and accidently I mind-merged them. Even joked in our Song of the Day post not to confuse Andy J Williams with his namesake senior easy listening giant, then mixed him up with someone else, whose name is nothing remotely similar. The only parallel is they’re both from Bristol, though many are, but being as the other artist’s album involved in this cock-up isn’t released until next week, both got put on the backburner. My virtual to-do-list saved the day; acts as my brain.

Extend a short story longer, here’s an apology to Andy, and a belated review of “Buy all the $tuff,” which is very worthy of not being missed out. To begin with his cohesive band firmly behind him, there’s a Britpop feel, I sensed, vocally, a similarity with Trowbridge’s finest, Phil Cooper, if Phil was aiming for pop. But there’s a lot going on here, influences are wide but mould into each other exceptionally well; a tad tongue-in-cheek at times too. It’s indie on the outer crust, but with a dynamite mantle blending of layers which incorporates funk, new wave post-punk, art-pop, and contemporary electric bluesy-folk, all with equal measure and passion.

Reminisces flood my neurons upon initial listening, of how eighties electronica fused funk into pop, a kind of “funk-lite,” avoiding the substantial seventies untainted funk vibe, and through post-punk new wave, rewrote the club-pop formula. Bands like Duran Duran and Roxette spring to mind, I’d even go as far as Michael Jackson meets Huey Lewis, but while I’m aware there’s a bizarre subgenre called “funk metal,” pleased to report Andy doesn’t get that heavy! This is more like musical cubism, with a skilful composition akin to King Tubby’s mixing board, and it comes out the other end as extraordinarily unique beguiling pop.

Don’t take the opening Britpop track as red, the next, Post Nup, opens up this funk riff, but no matter where it takes you, lyrically this well-crafted too, written with thoughtful prose. There’s topical subject matter amidst the archetypical romance, including the referendum and social media, but no theme distracts from the overall musical presentation. Night Terrors, for example, works opposite to Jon Amor, who uses Elvis Costello pop to create a more frivolous blues, Andy maintains pop by adding elements of electric blues. Then, piano solo, layered with subtle percussion. Andy rinses a fine ballad, undoubtedly the most evoking track on the album, Stay.

Buy This $tuff reaches an apex immediately after, Something to Believe in is masterfully danceable, bathed with handclaps and a funky riff, it is to Andy what Superstition is to Stevie Wonder. From here on, the album takes to this upbeat terpsichore concept. It’s highly entertaining.

Ballads follow, Celia and Now She’s Gone are particularly adroit, but you know Andy isn’t going to end this with melancholy. Be Mine returns to rock as it’s mainstay. Radicalised equally comes in hard, with an electronica feel. And Your Truth Hits Everyone is anthemic, concluding there’s a need to ponder what the Beatles would sound like if still around today, with Britpop, new wave electronica, and clubland techno at their disposal. Through this, I might provide a suggestion.


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The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Thought I’d present a weekly story feature, for Sunday entertainment during lockdown…. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Chapter One; in which we meet our intrepid hero and his trusty sidekick Briggs in the enlisted men’s quarters at Miltshire County Hall.

The wooden door splintered off its hinges and the clammer reverberated through the galleries of County Hall on Bythesea Road. Which, incidentally isn’t actually by the sea at all, given Miltshire is landlocked.

It was however, of slight relevance to this tale, that during the week-long monsoon season Englishmen refer to as “spring,” the county’s low marshland looked akin to a coastal resort at high tide. It is also of average importance to note, the setting for this story begins at the headquarters of a county council duly responsible for over-filling the obligation to build umpteen affordable housing estates, but tends to build them on said floodplains. Why is only a matter for their attention, and to fathom reason, is merely speculation, but the general ethos portrayed in this wholly fictional fable by aforementioned councillors might provide a clue…. I said might.

“Stand by your beds, you yellow-bellied imbeciles!” roared the broad-breasted fellow, the volume of which twitching his full moustache. He paraded the surprised junior councillors as they hurried to attention, each at the foot of their cots, and he allowed what remained of the door to collapse onto the deck.

With sharp efficiency he snapped his pace stick under his left arm, flush with the limb, and paced ardently through the aisle. He abruptly extended it to prod the nearest enlisted man to him, in the belly. It wobbled, but only slightly.

“And, why is your vest not tucked into your briefs, you scruffy oaf?!”

“Sorry, sir,” the youngster stumbled on his words, at least he was young compared to Yellowhead, at about forty-three.

“Do I have a name, cadet?” Yellowhead bellowed.

“Yes sir!”

“Would you care to address me with it, or do I have to insert this brass baton into the anal region of your brain? It’s not a task I take lightly, but feel it’s critical to add to this week’s agenda.”

“No, thank you, Councillor Yellowbeard, sir!”

Chief Councillor Yellowhead projected his face so close to the enlisted man’s, he could feel the whiskers of his moustache niggling his cheek. Yellowhead snarled at the boy. “Then, pray tell me,” he whispered, “why is your vest not tucked into your briefs, as is the compulsory unform requirement for all junior councillors?”

“I, erm, just woke, sir…” he fumbled the words.

“Woke? Woke, young man?” Yellowhead questioned, “are you woke, cadet?”

“Am I, sorry, what?” the cadet muttered in confusion.

“Woke,” Yellowhead repeated, “I know you know I know what it means in your youthful street slang, cadet, do not play the innocent with me! You mean to suggest you’re a leftie extremist, Corbyn’s vest-licking snowflake dissent and unpatriotic partisan, don’t you?!”

“Oh, right; no sir, just that I literally just woke up.”

Yellowhead scanned his expression with his beady eyes, in an attempt to detect any signals of traitorship. But all he perceived was an indoctrinated devotion to the cause, equal to those icons he admired the most, Churchill, Thatcher and the contemporary Boris Johnson. Aching to note a sign of reformist tenet, so he could take his stress out on the individual, he sighed, and turned on his foot. “Good, cadet; you know the penalty for treason.” Unsaid, the punishment was suspected by the enlisted men to be to kiss the aging backside of Theresa May, right in the crack. The cadet shuddered at the thought, a true test to his dedication, should it not prove to be hearsay.

Meanwhile Councillor Yellowhead marched on down the aisle, scorning each man standing to attention by their cots. His Nokia 3310 rang and the councillor fumbled his pocket to locate it.  He frowned and answered, “Yes, what now, MacFurryson, I’m really rather busy?!”

Some inaudible but apparently irate chatter flowed out of the phone’s speaker; Yellowhead listened and responded, “….and what, you want another medal, police crime commissioner? May I just enquire what your men were doing at Swan Meadow in order to cap……”

Yellowhead hesitated, and huffed his anger. Steam from his ears reduced the redness surrounding his pus-face. “Look, Fungus, or whatever your name is, I expressly told you to order your men to guard the King Alfred statue in Poosea, and now you tell me they’re gallivanting the council estates, arresting a known rapist? What if Black, or even Nordic Lives Matter scum try to tear the statue down? Is the 878AD Battle of Edlington, and Alfred the Great’s honour sacred no more; would you not care one iota if EU militia invaded, bringing their croissants, French onion soup and filth like that? Fungus? Huh?”

The line fell silent.

“Yes,” Yellowhead huffed, “I thought as much. Now, quit conforming to woke-obsessed leftie philanthropists; historically sexual attacks have always occurred, yes, they’re sad, but unfortunately the problem will never go away, whereas if we lose the statues our pride in England is lost, FOREVER!” The chief councillor let out a heavy sigh and addressed his phone once again, “we’ve had several meetings about this, MacFurryson, where you confirmed your allegiance to conservatism, now let’s hear some it coming through, okay?!”

Whimpering could be heard from the phone’s speaker.

Out of character, Yellowhead was sympathetic. “I’m on your side,” he snivelled, “honestly, Fungas, except when you allowed silliness, like adding rainbow colours to the Miltshire police Facebook page logo. Look, you’ve only got till May and you can retire; remember the condo we promised, eh, remember the conservatory, the chocolate-box cottage? Well, then, listen, there, there; I’ve got to dash old friend, talk soon.” With that the chief councillor threw the phone into his pocket.

“I need someone I can trust,” he asserted his dominance over the enlisted men, “for an imperative mission behind enemy lines.”

The men gasped in horror. “You mean,” one dared to utter, “outside? Out there?”

“Yes, cadet!” the chief councillor snarled, snapping his head around to see who muttered. His head was, as his name suggested, one giant, pus-filled zit, ready to detonate if just one of these imbecilic straight-out-of college plebes squeezed his patience too far. “I’m fully aware due to the pandemic you have not been allowed out since last year, but I’m old enough to have been vaccinated, twice, so it matters not that you will accompany me on this mission, you have to come to terms with your expendability. Outside contractors are clenching the budget, and complaints have been raised by,” Yellowhead shuddered with mere mention of them, “by, by the general public.”

He turned to face a randomly selected skinny fellow and launched his baton outwards towards him, “You!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you boy! State your name and rank!”

“Briggs, sir, Grant; trainee liaison officer!”

“Liaison eh? Perfect, you will be adequate. Report to supplies immediately, request some traffic cones and yellow spray paint,” Yellowhead announced, “and call your wife, tell her you may not be home until after teatime, if at all!” He then turned and pouted at an imaginary camera, “there’s a savage world out there, wrought with danger and perilous unknown, erm, things, and we have to face it with a sense of hope once more……”

“Really?” mumbled Briggs in jest.

“…. Think Calne,” Yellowhead acutely juddered, “but worse….”

For the first time, mild-mannered Briggs was afraid.

“You should be grateful, Briggs, you’ve been selected to brave the fresh Miltshire air, if this bunker had windows, you’d note it is spring. But you should also note, it will test every section of your training here at Bythesea Road.”

“One question, sir,” Briggs inquired, “if I may?”

“If you must, cadet,” annoying muttered Yellowhead.

“Why do they call it Bythesea Road, then, sir, when, you know….?”

“Did training meetings not cover this?” Yellowhead tousled, “perhaps it’s top secret, but seeing as you’re coming on this mission, there’s some details you need to know…” He leaned in close to Briggs, his foul breath whisked up Brigg’s nostrils, and Briggs winced. Ensuring no other enlisted man could hear, Yellowhead whispered, “all part of an experiment, to see if the, the damn public of Miltshire are intelligent enough to detect our lies. Create a bleeding obvious one, see if they notice Trow Vegas is landlocked and the road cannot possibly be by the sea at all, and if not, which I’m pleased to inform you was hugely efficacious, it gives us license to propagate and spread as much bullshit and fabrications as we see fit; we can fib till our hearts content, they buy it every time.”

“Genius!” Briggs sparked.

“Precisely,” Yellowhead grimaced for the first time, the closest he came to smiling. “This is why we flush out any leftie terrorists infiltrating our council, their schmaltz compassion and nauseating morality is treacherous, they’ll whine-hole health and safety regulations like biblical passages. Be warned, Briggs, insiders lurk in these corridors, tell no one of your mission, fetch the cones and spray paint, take out anyone who might be wearing a charity shop brown suit, and return with your life; clear?”

“Crystal, Sir!” replied Briggs, but as he started on his journey, the sound of machine-gun fire reverberated around the quarters. In a murky haze few of the enlisted men noted the scant figure standing heroically in the doorway, clasping a smoking machine gun, dropping a cigar end to the floor, and extinguishing it with a hefty boot. Most of the men hit the deck, else cowered behind their cots, but all of them quivered in fear, as Councillor Yellowhead turned to face the mysterious intruder.

Who is the mysterious gunman? Will Yellowhead and Briggs escape with their lives, if not for the reason stated, why the hell is it really called Bythesea Road, when it’s about as far away from the sea as possible? All might yet be revealed next week, in The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead……

Read Chapter 2, here.

First Aid Courses Return; Chatting with Louise Worsley

After lockdown workshops via Zoom, Worsley Training returns with actual first aid courses, there’s one at Devizes Town Hall on May 18th, where basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator will be taught in a four-hour emergency course, concurrently with a full six-hour accredited Emergency First Aid at Work course. Ideal for general interest or a small business owner who needs the full one-day accredited certificate. The course mixes theoretical and practical learning and assessment, and the accredited certificate lasts for three years… I’m all for finding out more:

If I had a time machine, they’d probably erect a statue of me, for I have a tendency to dream up ingenious ideas which I later find out have already been put in place! I came up with the virtual blackboard years after someone else did, and were widely used. Similarly, today, planning a chat with first aid instructor, Louise Worsley, I thought to myself, shouldn’t first aid be part of the school curriculum, only to discover the success of a campaign from the St Johns Ambulance website which put just that into place a year ago!

“Yes,” Louise confirmed, “after years of campaigning St Johns and the Red Cross have finally got it on the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.” She continued to explain she had been teaching first aid at schools for years, “but it hasn’t been compulsory, just up to PTAs to decide whether they think it should or shouldn’t be taught.”

I wondered where this left Louise’s business, Worsley Training, if teachers are administering the training, hopefully she could train the teachers. “Basically, yes, I have a flyer which I send out to schools,” she told me. Louise was a formerly geography teacher, “so I’m in comfort zone with schools.”  She has the scope to teach the children, or train the teachers, “and also what questions are going to come up, and how the kids react.”

I expect you’d get quite different responses from children as you would from adults. “Oh, god yes!” she laughed, “as with any off-curriculum subjects, primary school children love it, secondary are far too cool, and I have to strongly encourage them to get involved.” But Louise supposed though they might not have practiced it entirely accurately, at least they have practised it should the need arise.

Personally, while I’m not as perilously sensitive as a vampire who faints at the sign of blood, I never saw myself as a first aider until a company asked me if it was something I wanted to do. I figured being the one to sort out spilled blood and guts while workmates slouched in the tearoom might be a step too far for me. Yet I found the course interesting, and proudly became an appointed first aid person, thankfully only having to use it once. It was later, at a smaller company when the first aider was on holiday! Louise beathed a grave sigh upon telling her, and stressed the rule, “there should always be a first aider on hand.”  

I didn’t say it to get into the law, only to ask Louise if it was the right course of action to take, being my certificate had expired, and I wasn’t official. I explained it to the worker, and asked if they wanted me to administer first aid before proceeding. “An appointed person doesn’t qualify you to give any first aid. The only responsibilities were to recognise something was wrong, call 999, deliver report forms and restoke the first aid kit.” Louise stressed it’s not a qualification, “they never say you have to do any first aid despite being taught some. It exists as there has to be a person in company to do those things. The first qualification is the emergency first aid at work, a one-day course.” Louise teaches this as a public course.

Another reason why I bought it up with Louise, is when on the course I asked how a process would differ if the patient was a baby, being my daughter was at the time. The instructor ludicrously replied they couldn’t teach me that, as this was an appointed person in the workplace course, and you won’t be administering it on a baby. “That’s a rubbish trainer,” she stressed!

Even for the workplace course, Louise always brings child and baby manakins along, “because a lot of people are parents, and want to know, others might work in cafes, the qualification is just for the employees, but if you were working in, say, a café, or similar, it wouldn’t be very good PR to say I’m not going to get involved.” I supposed it wouldn’t take long to explain the difference, and she agreed. “the main differences are with choking and CPR, the rest you just treat them more gently.” She continued on technicalities of the differences, I’m not going to run them off here, you’ll have to take the course!

Wanting to inquire why certificates expire, if the theory of first aid changes, but the answer was more simply people they need a reminder. “I always finish a course by saying, I hope you never have to use this, but if you don’t use it you obviously forget it. Things do change, but my style is very much to give you confidence, that something is better than nothing. If all you can remember was taught ten years ago, at least you’re doing something. Whereas panicking, worrying they might get sued is useless.”

The use of public access defibrillators is something which has been updated, I wanted to know how easy they are to use, because, they look simple on the casing, but under stress or panic mode, might be a different story. Louise has four training versions of defibrillators, which won’t shock. Though she confirmed they’re simple to use, which might undermine that section of her course, but again, confidence to use them is favoured. “People can be sacred of them, but the more who know how to use them…. They’ve saved so many lives so far,” which is, after all, why we’re here discussing the issue.

But it must be nice for Louise to be looking forward to starting actual course again, after Zoom meetings during lockdown. She said she enjoyed either, “but yeah, meeting people, in a hall, I was okay, haven’t done this since December!” Unlike the first lockdown, they didn’t have to stop teaching, but Louise felt she shouldn’t put on a course. But now, Worsley Training is getting fully booked already, “I missed it when it was not happening.”

I’m grateful for our chat, Louise is obviously passionate about teaching first aid. “I love teaching and first aid is such a needy topic to get behind, so, there’s no reason not to go on a first aid course, if someone offers it to you; you never know when you’ll need it, and it’s better to know it and not need it rather than need it and not.”

To find out more info or book a course, click here

Find the Devizes Town Hall Course on May 18th on Facebook Here



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Gull Able

Ah, hope you enjoy my new Sunday series, something a little different…. To Be Continued………

Song of the Day 31: Ilingsworth

My classic excuses don’t wash in an online era; the dog ate my Song of the Day blogpost, I’m certain I put it in my bag when I left school, bull like that.

I know, right. It’s been a while since my last Song of the Day, a post I promised on a daily basis but failed, miserably. I got nothing, no excuse that’ll wash. But the moment you hear this tune from John Smith and Jolyon Dixon, the duo known as Illingworth, you’ll understand the need to bring it back.

They’re the Kenco of local music, instantly, each new song comes across as a rock classic, sounding as if it’s always been swimming around in your head.

But Man Made of Glass is emotionally topical and contemporary. Just, go on, have a listen, and I might be persuaded to realign my promise to bring you a song of the day each day, else I’ll have to change the title to song of the month, which is a bit lack lusture of me.

Pulling my finger out, if you’re looking for someone to blame; Netflix. There, it’s out there. Why has every fair idea got to be flipping twelve season series of 200 episodes each, consisting of a drawn-out narrative a better writer could’ve concluded in a hour and half movie? For God’s sake, bring back live music!

Anyway, I’m waffling, feel free to stop me; that’s my song of the day. Very good, carry on….


The Ruzz Guitar Sessions; Going to the City

Driving home through Devizes last week, it’s only 10pm but I contemplate, it could be three in the morning it’s deathly silent. Our once lively little market town, like everywhere else, has lost a sparkle due to the pandemic; hope it can rekindle is all that is left. And now, the Facebook memories fires a bittersweet reminder at me, for even if you paint only a rose-tinted view of your life on the social media giant, a memory still pops up which is kind of sad on reflection.

Musically, blues is apt.

Thought was fairly stable that evening proved wrong. That memory was a wobbly video of the absolutely blinding night when Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue blew, or blue, perhaps, the roof off the Sports Club, aided by a supergroup of Innes Sibun, Jon Amor and Pete Gage. It was in a word, treasured. The sadness being, at the time it was only speculation it could be the final night of live music, and I didn’t want or care to digest that notion at the time, but it was; way to go out with style, though!

Now we’ve come around to the anniversary of that moment, with a prospective reopening light at the end of tunnel, primarily being only a possibility. Yet the world turns on its axis, and music has, like so many other arts, been forced to change methods of distribution. The live stream, the Zoom recording session, and, for an extremely short summer stint, an afternoon solo session in a socially distanced pub when we were disillusioned into believing the virus was on its way out, have become the norm.

As many others, Ruzz Guitar has adapted, and a Facebook group called the RG Sessions aims to launch a new style of assemblies, producing the exceptionally high-quality electric blues we’ve come to expect from the Blues Revue. You can buy them a virtual pint, and you can grab this gorgeous name-your-price single, which features all the musicians as on that fateful night. And in a way, it’s so good it near makes up for the depressing notion of this live music loss.

With the expert gritty vocals of keyboardist Pete Gage, “If You’re Going To The City,” also features our homegrown guitarists Innes Sibun and Jon Amor, with Ruzz’s proficient Blues Revue members, drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Michael Gavaghan on sax. And with that said, I don’t feel the need to review it, take it as red, they’re the ingredients for perfection.

After the previous spellbinding single with Peter, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, we live in hope this faultless coupling will be retained for more of the same. But what surprises these Sessions will magically pull from their sleeves next will keep us guessing; I’d advise you follow the page for updates.


The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch

April 1st is All Fools Day, the day after you’d be a fool to miss this. Much I hark on about local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades, even before they were united as such, but only for good reason. It was always a win-win when the three singer-songwriters officially formed, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin all excelled on the local circuit as solo artists and regularly appeared together for gigs.

Together this force to be reckoned with has formed a definite style akin to a corporate identity, and uniformed they move towards a debut album with all new, original songs. Based on their EP, which we fondly reviewed, the album launch is rightfully highly anticipated.

 The album’s name has been revealed by the trio, “The Bird, The Book & The Barrel,” and will be released on 4th June. Though the band want to make the most of the Bandcamp Friday before that, where the platform-based music site kindly site waivers their fees, giving the artists full royalties. Therefore, The Lost Trades will be taking pre-orders on 2nd April and 7th May. There will be a live stream, something the Trades have always been on the top of their game with, on 2nd April, to celebrate.

The trio promise the full sound system, concert-style at live stream, scheduled at 7.30pm, will present everything from the album, including brand new, never before heard songs. The live stream will be broadcast from their Bandcamp page, and is ticketed at a very reasonable £2.50, with Bandcamp also waiving their fees on all live stream tickets sold until the end of March.

Best of luck, Tammy, Jamie and Phil; sounds like a virtual cake kind of occasion to me, but then, any occasion sounds like a cake one to me! Get your tickets HERE. Follow the event on Facebook.


Trending…..

Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Haunted House Party; Chatting with Ill Literate of The Scribes

I caught up with Ill Literate, one third of Bristol hip hop trio, The Scribes, to chat about their new single, how they, and in general, writing a rap is composed, a bit of their backstory, on diversity and where they’re heading…….

After the unnerving atmosphere of their mind-blowing previous single, Stir Crazy, Bristol hip hop ground-breakers The Scribes release Haunted House Party today, featuring Mr Teatime and DJ Steadi, which will act as a double-A-side with Stir Crazy. Somewhat slighter in neurotic ambience than its flipside, still it maintains a lingering disturbed undertone, an eerie mood weaved by the intensely hypnotic lyrical style which we’ve come to expect from the Scribes.

Despite the haunting opening piano solo, there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek with this haunted house, as might be wrongly perceived by cliché pop songs with similar themed titles. The Scribes aren’t doing the Monster Mash, don’t even go into this expecting something similar!

But you know me, I showed my age with the trio, jokingly citing a lampooning track, The Haunted House of Rock from the debut EP of eighties hip hop trio Whodini. Why one third of the trio, Shaun Amos, aka Ill Literate agreed to chat is beyond me, but he did, and here’s the awkward questions I threw at him, and his answers!

Hopeful he’d humour me, I went wrangling on a technicality with the group’s name. I reckoned it should be “Scribes,” and not “THE Scribes,” as the first denotes a copyist, i.e., anyone who writes, prior to the printing press and can be traced back to ancient Egypt, whereas the latter usually relates to a particular group from biblical times who were largely critical of Jesus, probably contributed to his crucifixion. “What’s in a name,” I asked!

“Wow man, I’ve got to say I don’t think we’ve ever thought about it to that extent!” Shaun acknowledged, “when we first came up with the name, we did have a list of possibilities, including some genuinely terrible ideas like “Guttersnipes”. When we settled on “The Scribes” we did quite like the vaguely iconoclastic undertones going with the main thrust of writing. We already knew we wanted to write music by our own rules rather than by going with trends or scenes.”

I’m glad he didn’t bite at my absurd logic, as likely it matters not one iota, rather there was reason. Being scribes are writers, it leads us into my intrigue at how they, and rappers in general go about writing and composing a track, if they have a set formula?

“It really does vary hugely, we work with a lot of producers and the process of getting a track completed is different every time,” he replied. “When I’ve composed the music, myself I tend to bring it to the rest of the group with an idea of what I want the song to be about, maybe even with a hook already written and recorded. Sometimes we’ve got a topic we want to write about and we’ll seek out music that will fit with it. Quite often producers will make a selection of pieces for us to listen to and mess around with and we’ll get a vibe off a particular track, sometimes by jamming it out in the studio, sometimes on the road between gigs listening to bits on the car stereo.”

I see the writing process for a solo, say acoustic musician, usually being a lone affair. Whereas scripting an episode of the Simpsons, for instance, is a group affair, the best writers gather around a table and knock the jokes and narrative about, which is more how I’d envision they work a song, because there’s three of them and the subject has to harmonise, as they bounce lyrics off each other. Unless, one contributes an idea and the others adlib their parts?

“We do bounce our lyrics off each other a lot,” he confirmed, “checking they make sense mostly!

Shaun Amos.

“We do bounce our lyrics off each other a lot,” he confirmed, “checking they make sense mostly! Whichever one of the aforementioned routes we’ve taken to write the track, it’ll almost always end up with us all agreeing a hook together, that then tends to set the topic of the track in stone. We then go off and write our verses separately before coming back together to record. So, while the hooks/theming is generally a group effort, the verses are much more of a lone affair!”

But what of adlibbing rappers freestyling, I’m guessing they’ve set templates to fuse with a running theme, but usually this consists of a simple premise; boastfully bigging themselves, or criticising the opposing rapper. Yet tracks from the Scribes meld like crochet, tackling tricky subject matter, they weave in and out of notions, rather than repeating words or thoughts. How does this process start, with a subject, or with a set of words which flow?

“It pretty much always starts with a subject,” Shaun elucidated. “Maybe not even something as specific as a subject, sometimes it might just be a feeling or an emotion or a general statement. Either way it’s enough for us to aim our verses at, and I think doing the actual verses as individuals does mean we end up with maybe a couple of different takes on each topic, or at least a couple of different ways of expressing it. Having said that, in hip hop there’s always room for a bit of bragging wordplay and head nodding crowd pleasing!”

That said, I guarantee The Scribes could freestyle the ass off most!

“That’s not really for me to say!” he laughed. “I think our freestyle game is pretty tight, we crack it out at most performances!”

Does Ill Literate find a trio is, as De La Soul say, the magic number, when it comes to composing a rap? “Where,” I asked, “and when did it all start? I mean, were you all separate artists who assembled, or have you always been a trio?”

“I don’t know if it’s the number of people involved that’s important, more that the people involved are on the same wavelength and get along well. Both for the writing process and for the amount of time you end up spending together on the road! Me and Jonny have been best mates since we were five, and have basically always rapped together, we met Lacey during the early days of gigging and he got onboard straight away!”

While on the backstory, I asked Shaun for his first musical memory, particularly his introduction to hip hop, feeling it was time to remind him when I cited buying Whodini’s “Haunted House of Rock,” in, shit, 1983, though this was not my first hip hop record!

Ah, there it is! I remember it well; and owe it all to Mr Magic’s wand!

“We do have some pretty old school influences,” he chuckled, “though Whodini may be a bit old school even for us! I think my first introduction to conscious hip hop, as opposed to mainstream hip hop which was very gangster back in the day, was through friends at school. We used to listen to records at each other’s houses, a lot of the early Rawkus Records compilations like Lyricist’s Lounge and Soundbombing. Bristol has a pretty big scene for hip hop so there were also a few local records shops with a good selection of underground releases that we could dig through, though a lot of the time we’d just look for instrumentals we could rap to! I think that late 90’s boom bap hip hop sound is pretty much the backbone of all The Scribes’ tracks!”

I confess; had to Google the subgenre boom bap, certain it wasn’t an explosive breast, as I originally fathomed! I discovered while unfamiliar with the term, many of my personal hip hop likes relate, pioneers like Marley Marl, and acts such as LL Cool J and A Tribe Called Quest. But I’m going to throw Shaun off subject, ask him if he liked English Lit at school, if teachers accepted anything he might’ve have wrote as credible by their formal standards, and if he sees his writing as poetry.

“I never really liked it as a subject, but I have always read a lot, I love books! It’s probably the main thing I do outside of music. That and watching pro-wrestling. It’s a heady mix! I don’t think I ever showed any verses to teachers in school, not sure what the reaction would have been to be honest. I’ve never really found it important to label anything we do but I would personally say it is a form of poetry, just a very rhythmic and flexible one that’s written to be performed rather than read.

The Scribes

I’ve likened, in previous reviews, The Scribe’s sound, the way they intertwine lyrics and alter voices with accents and intonations to create a certain mood, be it fearful or humorous, to the Fu-Schnickens, but the way its composed, like the magic of Tribe Called Quest, as I reckon, they mastered this best. “That a fair evaluation?!”

“We will always happily take ANY comparison to Fu-Schnickens or Tribe!”

Shaun Amos.

“We will always happily take ANY comparison to Fu-Schnickens or Tribe!” Ill Literate contently responded, “that’s good company to be in!”

 Yet nothing I’ve heard from their album, Quill Equipped Villainy, or the Totem Trilogy and singles, unless I’m mistaken, use recognisable samples. It’s an easy gimmick to include beats or a riff which people will recognise, whereas everything they seem to do is original. I asked him if I was right, and if so, if that’s something important to them.

“I guess this is something that varies from producer to producer. I personally don’t use any samples in my production, I just play/compose everything myself in the studio on guitar/bass/keys. I know a lot of producers who pride themselves on using only incredibly unknown and niche samples, spending a huge amount of time digging through obscure vinyl to find tiny little elements. I also know a lot who don’t really mind how “known” a sample is, as long as they switch it up so much it ends up as something unrecognisable from the original. I guess including a sample that is well known, so that the song becomes essentially a hip hop version of the original track, almost like a cover, is an easy way to get a bit of traction. Same as if you sample a movie theme song and do a song about the movie. But having said that I’ve heard some great tracks that do just that, so who knows?!”

On multiplicity, the album sees a number of collaborations; Akil from Jurassic 5, and Leon Rhymes. How far would they take diversity; “would it be acceptable to you for a producer to create a drum n bass, or house track from your lyrics? What about a mainstream artist asking you to fuse a rap into some cheesy pop? Because it’s a tricky balance isn’t it, not being seen as selling out to the ethos and genre, but creating publicity and notice?”

“We’re always up for anything,” Shaun replied, “I love hearing remixes people do of our tracks, be it Drum and Bass, Funky House or anything else. Even if someone did want to take our work and turn it into cheesy pop, I think I’d be cool with that. More just so I can hear what they do with it, rather than for any publicity or fame! I’m always interested in seeing what other musicians do and how they work and the different techniques used by different genres.”

Haunted House Party is released today, and yeah, it rocks, but what’s next for the Scribes?      

“Well, hopefully we’ll be back gigging before too long, at least in time for the festival season this summer! Til then we’re working on keeping the releases and videos coming! Hoping to do a few more special one-offs on The Get Down Records, like transparent 7″ vinyl for “Stir Crazy”/”Haunted House Party.” People can keep up to date by signing up to our mailing list at QuillEquipped.com and on all the usual social media bits, Facebook and Instagram. It also helps a lot if you follow us on Spotify so we can make sure you know when we drop new tracks!”


Trending…

Eighties Mod Revival Lost Gem: The Direct Hits

If I waffle positively here, and yes, I do waffle, about retrospection and a trend in sounds trying to be authentically from a time of yore, this one doesn’t need to try. The Broadway Recording Sessions thrusts you rearward into the eighty’s mod revival scene, whether you want to go there or not.

Battersea trio, The Direct Hits may only be remembered by the connoisseur of mod, having one-shot at charting in ’82, when TV presenter Dan Treacy released their song, Modesty Blaise on his Whamm! imprint. The music press hailed this as not just another Jam, crash-bang-wallop mod revivalist tune, and their explosive live shows avowed them pioneers of a “Battersea Beat.”

Whamm were financially struggling to fund an album, so the band pooled their limited resources and booked the cheapest studio time they could find, Tooting’s Broadway Sounds. By the afternoon they had knocked out nine songs, the other three on this album were recorded a fortnight later. It would be two years later when they re-recorded some of these songs for their debut album “Blow Up.”

Now remastered, these lost recordings have surfaced finally, and, with warts and all, show the uncooked spirit of a hopeful mod garage band. I’ve had this playing for a few weeks since it’s late February release, and it heralds the hallmarks of a post-punk return to the basics, which sixties groups like The Kinks and The Small Faces mastered. To expect this yardstick is pushing it, but through all its rawness there’s some beguilingly adroit songs to make you wonder why they wasn’t as their namesake suggests, direct hits!

Perhaps it was that bit too retrospective for the progressive eighties. Because, elements capture neo-psychedelia, rather than soulful eighties mod assigned via The Spencer Davis Group and into bands like The Merton Parkas. That era where the beatnik style was teetering on influencing the pop sound, but Merseybeat was still riding the high ground. There’s a delicate balance here, avoiding things getting too cliché Mamas & Papas, these upbeat three-minute-heroes never fails to kick ass.

Consistently high-spirted and energetic garage sound, yet psychedelically enhanced; think if Syd Barrett’s days spent at Pink Floyd would’ve been spent with The Who instead, and you get the idea. There’s even a bike song, just like on Relics. Lyrically there’s unassuming stories with clear narratives and characters to challenge the Beatles.

A polished rerecording of a track from the album.

Overall, though, you’ve got twelve mind-blowing rarities which perfectly capture a raw moment of youthful optimism for an inspiring band, in an era where everyone felt encouraged to pick up an instrument and give it bash; and they’re good, really good. In a funny kind of way, I see similarities to the now; the forgone passing of DJ culture in a rave new world and tasteless manufactured pop, to an imminent inclination of online DIY indie, I see hopefuls taking to a guitar and giving it a go. Perhaps then, there’s no time like the present for this to resurface.

Buy The Broadway Recording Sessions Here


Trending……

Hoping for a Summer of Local Music Festivals

Presented a punter-based cautionary piece on the hopeful move forward for live music this year, and how chancy it all is at this stage. If the playground remains uneven, I never intended the article to be pessimistic, though it may’ve been perceived that way. I just advised applying caution may be necessary prior to a compulsory detonation of over-excitement.

The other side of the coin of this vicious circle is that, without ticket sales there will be no show. While many organisers have cancelled their regular events, some keep their fingers and toes crossed, others are trying to work through it, and are dowsing a silver lining to this cloud with a summer of festivals planned.

Let’s hope and pray it pays off. Festival websites report that it is, and tickets are selling fast, which agreed, could be a sales pitch. So, you’re left to risk the call, and snap up tickets, especially for the most popular ones. I have faith most festivals will refund you if it either goes Pete Tong, or Pete Tong is booked to DJ, or else ask to retain your ticket for another year, because they organise festivals, and festivals are all about openness and sharing. Booking agents on the other hand, might be another story.

Personally, I’ve done gone got the festival t-shirt many moons ago, and the jester’s hat too, come to think about it; I can bide my time from power-napping in a spinning canvas pyramid, paying over the odds for a baggie of basil, and sliding headlong into a ditch of piss. For many though, particularly younger generations, festivals are essential, and vital, for their wonderful feeling of togetherness. For the music industry it’s crucial to maintain this notion; ignore my aged rant, there is no ditch of piss, not really, not in this clean-cut era!

Let’s run through the locally based choicest ones, which sound too good to miss… but remember to check the individual planned conditions of entry, some will ask you to provide evidence of licensed vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 48 hour period.

June


11th – 13th: Kite Festival

Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire

Born from a Kickstarter campaign in January 2020, but cancelled for the obvious reasons, it’s this festival’s maiden voyage this year. KITE aims to combine incredible music and breakthrough ideas in a unique programme of live performances and interactive discussions. “We wanted to bring together contemporary and legendary performers, thinkers, writers and public figures from the world of music, politics, business, technology and the arts and give you the opportunity to engage with the people who are influencing the way we live.”

Cultural icon Grace Jones, multi-Grammy-Award winning jazz singer Gregory Porter and gospel legend Mavis Staples were set to lead the music programme for the original date last year, we wait in anticipation to hear the line-up now, as Kite announce they’re working on their 2021 programme. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.


18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire

Another first outing cancelled last year sees its debut this June. Just the map is enticing enough, with a boating lake and woodland and all that stuff. Local breweries and bands, who share the stages with a great line up, including Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ) Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Pile-Up. There’s also an intersting wellbeing programme with hip hop yoga, boxercise, Let’s Talk About Sex Meditation & Mindfulness, and biscuits & burpees; I’ll just have the biscuits, thank you! Find Bigfoot here.


July


2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival

Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury

Fourth outing for this popular do. A community non-profit triple day extravaganza, run entirely by volunteers which raised funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and local schools and charities last year. Guaranteed excellent music, a great, wide range of food and a well-stocked house Bar, Gin & Prosecco Bar and Cocktail Tiki Bar! There will also be a range of FREE activities in the Kidzone, including rock climbing wall, rock climbing digi-wall, an inflatable slide and assault course, bouncy castles, circus skills workshops and kids craft workshops, plus many more activities.

Line-up includes, Dr & The Medics, Space, Jesus Jones, Dreadzone, Crikey Minogue & Six Packs, a Ministry of Samba workshop, and a great local roster of Devizine favourites The Tribe, Talk In Code, The Dirty Smooth, A’La-Ska, Navajo Dogs, Sloe Train and Plucking Different. This is going to be a brilliant one, make sure there’s room in your backpack to sneak me in! Info Here.

Should get you in the mood…..

8th-10th: 2000trees Festival

Withington, Cheltenham

A largely rock and indie festival, 2000trees has a good reputation and won awards. This year sees Jimmy Eat World headline, with Thrice, Creeper, The Amazons, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Menzingers, The Get Up Kids and many more to make me feel old!  Tickets & info Here.

9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

Still in the planning stages, this ever-growing festival in the most beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswold location think it’s enough just to announce on headline act, yeah, but it is Bryan Adams; show offs! Should be good though. Info here.


22nd-25th Womad (?)

Charlton Park, Malmesbury

Still hopeful, Womad are holding off announcing acts, but you know, I know, we all know it’ll be the crème de la crème of world music on our doorstep, if all goes well, they’ve secured the date and tickets are here.


31st Mfor 2021

Lydiard Park, Swindon

A family orientated, affordable, one day pop-tastic festival I’ve only heard good things about, could be just the thing to introduce kids to festivals. And with Craig David, Rudimental, Ella Henderson, Phats & Small, Mark Hill (Original Artful Dodger), Lindy Layton on the line-up, it’s easy to see how this party is going to go down. I believe local acts will also be on agenda, certain our friends Talk in Code feature. There’s even an over 18 Friday night special additional event, with Five, S Club, Liberty X, Baby and Rozalla; everybody is freeeee, to feeeel gooood, apparently. Info & Tickets.


August


5th-8th: Wickham Festival

Fareham, Hampshire

New one on me this, but The Wickham Festival is an annual four-dayer of music and arts. Boasting three stages, and rated as one of the safest, most relaxed and family-friendly festivals in the UK, Wickham was voted ‘Best UK Festival, cap. under 15000’ at the Live UK Music Business Awards in October 2015; so, they know their stuff; I mean, they’ve got Van the man, and The Waterboys. Note also, Devizine favs, Beans on Toast, Gaz Brookfield, Tankus the Henge along with Nick Parker on the agenda; sweet! Tickets & Info Here.


6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.


7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend

And what a finale it is, Saturday; McFly, Scouting For Girls, Orla Gartland, Lauren Hibberd, George Pelham, Josh Gray, Novacub, Dessie Magee and Luna Lake. Sunday; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, Billy Ocean, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Seth Lakeman, Bloco B, Hannah Grace, Casey Lowry, Port Erin Life, and Life In Mono, with more to be announced… Tickets HERE.


21st: Mantonfest

Manton, Marlborough

Any closer than this and it’ll be in your back garden! But that’s not the sole reason to grab a ticket for MantonFest! Just thirty notes for adults, a tenner for teenagers, and a fiver for kids, but that’s not the only other reason. Reports on this family, broad ranging charity fundraising annual do has never been negative, and we’re glad to hear it’s back for 2021. Number one Blondie tribute Dirty Harry headline, along with Dr. Feelgood, Ex-Men (five members of original 60’s bands), Barrelhouse, Jo Martin with his band, Devizine favs Richard Davies and The Dissidents, Josie and the Outlaw and homegrown Skeddadle. We previewed it last year before shit hit the fan; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021. Mantonfest say, “we may have to introduce some anti-covid restrictions. These will be announced nearer the time and will be in line with the latest developments and best practice;” let’s hope this goes off this time. Tickets & Info here.


21st: Live at Lydiard

Lydiard Park, Swindon

Anne‐Marie, Sean Kingston, Roman Kemp [DJ set] Artful Dodger, Chaney, Fabian Darcy on the line-up over four stages for this day festival at Lydiard, with a dance tent, boutique cocktail bar and food court. Info & Tickets here.


21st: Bath Reggae Festival

Now pushed back to August bank holiday, this is the maiden voyage for the Bath Reggae Festival, and we bless them with the best of luck. With a line-up this supreme though, I’d imagine it’ll sell itself. Legends Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, and The Slits solo extraordinaire Hollie Cook, Laid Back and lovers rocker Wayne Wonder, this is a must for reggae fans. Tickets & info here.


September


4th-5th: Concert at the Kings

All Cannings, Devizes

For locals little more can be said about how awesome this ground-breaking festival raising staggering funds for cancer research is. Since 2012 it has bought international headline acts to the sleepy village outside Devizes; legendary fables and the fondest memories have been had there. No difference this time around, save for some social distancing. Billy Ocean, 10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Strawbs, Lindisfarne and Devizine favs Talk in Code, with more to be announced; twist your arm anymore, sir? No; no need to! Tickets & Info here.


9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle

Venues across Swindon

A later date for this annual extravaganza of local live music, spread across Swindon’s premiere venues and hugely supportive of original homegrown talent, this is weekend to head for the railway town. Since 2007 the Shuffle raises funds for MIND, and is largely free to attend. Ah, there’s plenty time to arrange a line-up, which is underway, but you can guarantee a truckload of our local favourites will be there, somewhere! Info.


10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival

Stockton Park, Near Warminster

The mature place to glamp this summer if you want to get retro; classic cars is the concentrate, but there’s no shortage of great bands from rockabilly, doo-wop, blues to mod skiffle, boogie woogie jazz and beyond. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, “Great Scott,” Shana Mai and the Mayhems, The Bandits, Junco Shakers,The Flaming Feathers, The Harlem Rhythm Cats, Little Dave & The Sunshine Sessions, The Rough Cut Rebels, Riley K, The Ukey D’ukes and loads more. Info & Tickets Here.


You know, this one could be for me, rather than trying to look youthful clutching onto a marquee pole for dear life while a hoard of sugared-up teeny-boppers check Instagram amidst a soundtrack of dubstep! But look, I reckon there’s something for everyone here, but if I did miss yours, let me know, for a squashy cup of cider at the festie bar, I must just add your do here too!


Trending….

Wharf Theatre Has Some Positive News

The struggle is real; the theatre world in general is facing many issues and they lit their exteriors and foyers up in a red alert tone. Devizes beloved The Wharf Theatre joined forces again with fellow venues and took part in the Light It in Red campaign. They say, “the message this year is one of hope and support and we are using the universal symbol of the heart with the message; We’re still beating.”

Anyone passing The Wharf next week will note a series of posters created specially to celebrate this campaign, but they also have some exciting news. Subject to government guidelines eight shows are in pre-production and the scheduled dates are:

JULY: Collected Grimm Tales

SEPTEMBER: Jesus Christ Superstar

OCTOBER: The Navy Lark; The Tommy Cooper Story; Glorious (subject to rights)

NOVEMBER: The Paul Simon Story

DECEMBER: Dick Whittington

JANUARY: My Mother Said I Never Should

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website or, when open, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Whilst restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details or and don’t follow on Instagram and Twitter.

In the meantime, there’s still a few places left for the on-line masterclass with West End star Luke Bayer on Thursday 25th March 7pm – 8pm.  Would you like to be able to spend an hour with the Star of Jamie the Musical, learn a routine from the show and take part in a Q&A afterwards?  Tickets can be purchased from TicketSource – see website for further details.


Talk in Code, Atari Pilot and Sarah C Ryan Taking to Level III

Yeah, I know, right, there was an element of pessimism in my last piece regarding over-excitement at the prospect of the return of live music, but I wasn’t being cynical, just cautious. In the coming months I want to highlight hopeful upcoming gigs and festivals, the ones which tickle my fancy, but can’t promise this for all, so keep checking our event calendar for updates; I’m working on it, slowly!

One thing which will always be a general issue, which I didn’t cover, is that capacity will be lower, ergo tickets scarcer. Prime example; what should be a fantastic night for indie-fans, when our progressive, with a slice of retrospection, indie-pop favourites Talk in Code do Swindon’s Level III on June 5th, bringing with them another favourite here on Devizine, Atari Pilot, and solo Americana performer, Sarah C Ryan, who I’ve yet to hear live, but hopefully will. Tickets are limited to eighty, so, if you want to get in on these things, you have to be the early bird.

Sarah C Ryan

You may take heed of my warning about events only being possibilities at this delicate time, and caution is understandable when forking out a fortune for a festival ticket. This will unfortunately be a spanner in the works for larger events, and I only hope is something they can digest financially. It truly is a rock and hard place. The difference here is a gradual, little toe in the water, as the hit for my example, Talk in Code at Level III, is far easier on the wallet, at £6.60; can’t complain about that!

Atari Pilot

As grand adverts for summer festivals take to our newsfeeds, I believe the reopening of live music will be concentrated, to start with, on the smaller, grassroots gigs; and this one guarantees to be a blast. Tickets HERE.


Trending….

The Return of Local Live Music; should I add a question mark?

“But I’m bidin’ my time

‘Cause that’s the kinda guy I’m

While other folks grow dizzy

I keep busy

Bidin’ my time,”

George Gershwin

It’s important, I think, not to get over-excited, but I understand and expect a major outbreak of momentary bipolar disorder from myself and many others when we look somewhere over the rainbow at the prospect of events restarting, and live music in particular.

How the next few months pan out will be crucial to this concept of returning to normality, and we all play the part of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2; Judgement Day, when she said, “the unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope.” Hereafter the bit about a Terminator learning the value of human life is inconsequential to our particular occasion, but maybe has some relevance. We have to hold it down, guys, we have to be like little Fonzies here, and as Samuel L Jackson will ask you, Yolanda, what’s Fonzie like?

If we charge this thing it could backfire. It was heart-breaking and annoying too, running through our event calendar deleting everything, and despite the concern I’m going to be a busy bee updating it when events actually start happening, I’m like George Gershwin, biding his time. This said, you should note month-to-month the event calendar is far from void, there’s lots of live streams, online events and popup kitchens to check out; do not abandon it. But, and this a big but, bigger than the butt of Rod Stewart and Jennifer Lopez’s lovechild, we should keep in mind the word of the day is possibilities, and nothing should be set in concrete yet.

Still the local rag seems more gung-ho than me, which is odd until you figure they’ve staff to pay, advertisers to appease and content must be attractive. As I write this, they announce the headline “Fulltone Festival will be back in town this summer!” as I’m sure you’ll all be happy to hear this news, planning to go ahead on the 28th and 29th August, as am I, but I worry for the word “will” in this piece of clickbait, because right now can we really say will?

Look, my ol’ mucker, I don’t want to pop your bubble of optimism, I’m just playing the realist. Tomorrow sees schools and higher education heading back out; how strict testing will be, given pupils will test themselves in some circumstances, the same pupils who created the user-name “reconnecting,” so teachers would think they’re having connection issues with their online class! The R-rating hinges on this moment and its success, ergo the rest of this so-called roadmap does.

The second part of this giant step, on the 29th March includes the use of outdoor swimming pools, for example, but pubs won’t reopen until step 2 on April 12th. How are fifty-plus bods dribbling into a swimming pool safer than a socially distanced pint in your local? There’s inconsistences and flaws, to be expected, the further the pitch extends, but the wording is all made up of “we hope,” and “the government will look to continue easing limits,” there is no “Will,” therefore no media outlet should be using the word, unless mass hysteria is what they want.

The COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) on Gov.UK is quite clear, “in implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change.” Yet bands are getting bookings, events are being arranged, money is being pumped into thin ice. The Victoria in Swindon is planning a comeback with Ion Maiden, Iron Maiden tribute on 14th May, but The Tuppenny aren’t announcing yet. Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes haven’t added anything on Facebook until 7th August, when the brilliant Strange Folk are booked, whereas same band are the only thing to be listed at Devizes Southgate on 9th October.

But can you rely on the Fakebook as a source? Southgate landlady Deborah has been “quietly booking up bands,” with seventeen in the pipeline to date, starting from 22nd May. “This year,” she explained, “we’re concentrating almost entirely on just one gig per week. The earliest gigs will be outside with early evening start and finish times, but we hope to get back to our pre-COVID timings as soon as possible.”

The Long Street Blues Club state “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” aiming to restart their program on Saturday 18th September with the popular Billy Walton Band. This is brilliant news, but here, I believe is where the boundary lies, the smaller pub and club gigs. The idea of large-scale concerts and festivals, and upholding conditions are simply incalculable, for some.

Devizes Scooter Club have sadly cancelled their brilliant rally, as organiser Adam Ford said after making the decision in February, “even if it were allowed to proceed, we feel it will not be possible to host any event to the standard we would want to, and that attendees deserve.” There’s a similar feeling at Devizes CAMRA who have cancelled the Beer Festival. This is, sad but true, the exact logical response we should respect from those in the responsibility of organising events, well done to them both.

One should follow the lead of the Eavis family, experts in, quite literally, their field. If Glasto says no, then you, as an organiser should perhaps take heed. Meanwhile, Lydiard Park in Swindon is set for MFor 2021 is set as early as 31st July, and tickets are 50% sold. They remain adamant they’ve not the massive structure and organisation as Glasto, and will proceed with social distancing measures in operation. What I am questioning with these events still on the agenda, will we need proof of vaccination, as we’re a long way from vaccinating the country? Unless you imagine an evening with only over-70s going to watch Craig David, it’s a melon twister.

Talking with Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music, he stated, “the proof question hasn’t been answered by the Music Venue Trust yet, so there is no guidance or anything for the venues to base their decisions on. We can’t do gigs until May either, so still plenty of time for the working outs to begin.” Sheer has something in pipeline in Frome at the end of June, but isn’t really resurfacing until the highly anticipated Jon Gomm gig with support from The Lost Trades at Trowbridge’s Emmanuel’s Yard on the 15th October.

Satisfied that their safety measures conformed to the government regulations last Summer, the Southgate will do the same this time around. “Government guidelines have not yet been published,” Deborah said. “Unless we are required to do so, we have no intention whatsoever of  demanding proof of vaccination.”

Loz of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, who give us the unforgettable carnival, street festival and winter ales events, among others is looking forward to coming back “to help us make amazing things happen in the future.” She said, “I’ve spent every spare minute searching for and writing funding applications to ensure DOCA can relaunch at the end of this crazy blip in our history. I’m currently working on an Arts Council Cultural Recovery Bid; it’s a lot of work and I am supported by our fantastic Trustees whenever I have a question I stall on.”

But still, carnival in Devizes hangs in the ropes. But this is how it has to be, unfortunately. Believe me, I am adamant my next gig will not be when a kindly lady wheels her Bontempi organ into my care home to recite Bridge over Troubled Water, all I’m urging people to do is keep things in perspective and not raise their hopes, or more-so, let their guard down, just yet.