Meaning to bring back this simple and quick feature for a while now, and what better opportunity than a new tune from Cardiff’s reggae virtuosoes Captain Accident and the Disasters?
Nice mellow rock steady number this one, with a sombre theme and contrasting clown in the video. Bring on those happy, happy clowns, for a band who supported Toots and the Maytals on their 2016 UK tour, who Toots Hibbert liked so much to invite them back to do the same for the follow two tours, it could only be more talent than “accident.”
And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..
Checking out the little Thai cuisine delivery service in Devizes, Thaiday Friday; why am I the last to know about these things?!
I’ve no gripe with Andy, I couldn’t have, he’s standing at my door clutching some takeaway Thai curry. And my grumble certainly isn’t with his partner, Som, who’s lovingly cooked it. It’s with some of you, you know who you are! I do have bad moods, and they can be known to last for anything up to thirty seconds. The Thaiday Friday Facebook page has received over 400 likes, and not one of you thought to tell me about it. Well, your dirty little secret is out!
Thaiday Friday is the “lockdown project” of Andy and Som of Devizes, each Friday they deliver a different homecooked Thai dish to your door. While we have some great established takeaways in town, variety lacks, Thai cuisine one of them, and you know what they say about variety; aptly, it’s something about spices.
If they’ve found a gap in the market, and set up as a registered business, Andy seemed ambiguous with the prospect of expanding the project. He’s worked as a DJ for over 35 years, and Som is the breakfast chef at The Bear Hotel, so they’ve their hands full already. Besides, overthinking something can be its downfall, the beauty of this idea is its simplicity.
“We sell out most weeks,” Andy told me, making me wonder why we need review it at all. But I’m not about to argue, as I said, he’s standing at my door clutching some takeaway Thai curry! After hoofing it down, and cleaning my plate dry, (which I may/may not have licked,) I see why it needs a mention, deffo. Though I’ve not a great deal of experience with Thai cuisine, ergo nothing to evenly compare it with, I knows what I likes, and this was simply delicious.
Those few times I have had Thai curry, it’s always been green, like it’s an English set standard. This Friday though, it’s a welcoming, warm orange tint; chicken Massaman curry, apparently, with chickpeas, sweet potato and cashew nuts, accompanied with soft Thai Jasmin rice. “We rotate five dishes on weekly basis,” Andy explained, “Massaman, yellow curry, Panang curry, red curry and green curry, all with Thai Jasmin rice.”
Choice maybe limited, no restaurant menu here, rather a quaint homecooked operation of which you can check to see what’s cooking and order via their Facebook page. If you have to hold your hands up and praise the ingenuity here, the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. You can choose if you want it hot or just lightly spiced, of which we opted for the latter.
Like Marilyn Monroe, without the legs for it, I do like it hot, but lesser so, I considered, you can really taste the quality. And it is quality, restaurant-standard. The chicken fresh and succulent, the sweet potato smooth and the whole combination of cashews, chickpeas and the incomparable sauce were to die for.
Massaman is a rich, relatively mild fusion dish, not over-sweet, savoury, and just, velvety. Is this the cinnamon at work, the palm sugar or cardamom? Do I look like Jay Rayner to you? That was rhetorical, you don’t have to answer it. To compare to Indian curry though, this was far more delicately composed and lighter; it was sweet, to a degree, savoury to another and creamy, just a bit. With Indian curry I find it’s either one end or the other, here curry is balanced to perfection, from someone proficient and obviously passionate about bringing you a taste of her home; that’s my amateurish opinion!
Portions were plentiful, but size is unimportant compared to the notion; here’s something unique to our little market town, and for which Thaiday Friday thoroughly deserves top marks, and a little more. This is undoubtedly the completion to a perfect Friday night in.
If July saw the gradual return to normality, and cautiously events crawled back with a welcomed but awkward feeling, while it may be hugely debatable if we’re doing the right thing, or not, August is warming up to be stonker. Events of all types are flung up each day, it’s hard to keep track and up-to-date, nevertheless I try.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t go Pete Tong. Such a divided issue with good arguments on each side, I’m not about to start ranting for either, but I salute everyone organising events, at great risk to themselves financially. All I will say is, it is vital for the success of any event and the continuation of them in general, that we still apply certain rules, restrictions set by the organisers, and adopt the necessary etiquette when attending them. We know what the precautions are, they’re second nature now. The government passed the buck, it is up to us, each and everyone of us to think for ourselves, respect other’s decisions on how to act, but I appeal, act responsibly and long may this continue.
Without further-a-do then, here’s what we’ve found on Devizine for August. It’s far easier to knock this article up with providing too many links, they can be found at the event calendar, and for family events throughout the school holidays, check here; but please do check for updates, it’s never an exhaustive thing, new events are being added. Said that bit before, but it is even more vital to check ahead, to ensure events are going ahead as planned, and what restrictions might be in place at them individually. Have a great August, stay safe.
Kicking off on Monday August 2nd with the +5 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School. Tuesday 3rd and running until Thursday 5th August, RW Football School Summer Football Camp are at Green Lane, Devizes, ages 6-11.
Wednesday August 4th, then. Chippenham Museum host a Children’s Art Walk. Take a walk, through Monkton Park for this fun arty session. You will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park. There’s also the +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School.
Wednesday also sees the first Junior Actors with Lucia, for school years 6-9, for the Youth Theatre Summer Workshop at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes.
Thursday 5th and the Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore starts on Bowden Hill, Lacock. Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm, run every Thursday and Friday through August.
Our first August festival starts Thursday, Wickham Festival in Hampshire, where Van the Man headlines, and the Love Summer Festival at Plympton, Devon starts Friday.
There’s an interesting-sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman staged at Bath’s Forum on Friday 6th -Saturday 7th Miss Red. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old, Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.
Friday 6th also sees the Salisbury Comedy Festival start, Black Sabbath tribute, Supernaut play the Vic in Swindon, and HoneyStreet’s Barge will be kicking as the Mid Life Krisis Collective head down there.
On Saturday 7th time for Sheer Music to put aside their lockdown TV presenting skills and get on with what they do best, hosting gigs. And what a way to start, it’s Frank Turner at the Cheese & Grain. Also, catch the amazing Kevin Brown the Southgate, Devizes, and those mods, The Roughcut Rebels play the Greyhound in Trowbridge.
The wonderful Strange Folk are at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon. Concord Drive, Transfer Window and Man in Vest play Swindon’s Vic, Jive Talkin’ perform the Bee Gees at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall and it’s The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, where McFly headline.
For Sunday chilling, on the 8th, get down to the Queens Head in Box where Schtumm presents The Lost Trades with support from Lee Broderick, alternatively the Neeld play The Rod Stewart Songbook.
Monday 9th August there’s a +8 Holiday Club, The Farm Cookery School and +11 on Tuesday.
Wednesday sees another Youth Theatre Summer Workshop, at Devizes, the Wharf Theatre, check their website for details. Chippenham Museum also hosts a Writing & Performance Workshop with performer Ruth Hill, for ages 8 and above. More Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore on Thursday and Friday, and The Cake Lady takes The Farm Cookery School’s +8 Holiday Club.
Friday night, I’ve got Stop Stop playing Swindon’s Vic, and that’s it so far.
Saturday 14th, Cobbs at Hungerford have a charity Emergency Service Day, should be fun for the little ones. For the grownups, cider fest at the Civic in Trowbridge with the Mangled Wurzels.
Lewis Clark is at The Southgate, Devizes, Shepard’s Pie at Wanborough’s The Harrow, and Webb, formally known as Ryan Webb has this EP launch party at Swindon’s Vic, with Broken Empire and Land Captains in support. Hope to get a copy of this for reviewing, some clog in the pipeline at the moment. But hey, it’s also Buckfest at Marlborough The Roebuck where the loud and proud Humdigger headline.
Bedpost, Transfer Window and Pool play the Vic in Swindon on Sunday.
+11 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School on Monday 16th, and the RW Football School are in Melksham. Suitable for ages 6+, Pound Arts welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous show to Corsham Almshouses, for an outdoor performance of The Grimm Sisters.
A welcomed return of events at Melksham Assembly Hall on Thursday 19th, with Neil Sands Bringing Back the Good Times; ol’ time favourite show tunes from the 40s, 50s & 60s and a heart-warming tribute to Dame Vera Lynn.
Friday 20th and Jack Dee’s new show, Warm Up is at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall. I’ve nothing else for Friday night yet, but Saturday21st, woah, festival time!
First up, is where I plan to be, Mantonfest, near Marlborough, with Blondie tribute Dirty Harry, Dr Feelgood, Barrelhouse, Richard Davies & The Dissidents and many more. Over the downs, OakStock at Pewsey’s Royal Oak is another safe bet; Amy Winehouse, Rag n Bone Man tributes, alongside the brilliant Illingsworth.
Meanwhile the rescheduled Bath Reggae Festival takes place, with Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Hollie Cook and more. Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headline Live at Lydiard 2021.
Howlin’ Mat plays The Southgate, Devizes, while Sex Pistol’s tribute Pretty Vacant are at Swindon’s Vic, with support by The Half Wits and Subject Ex.
Monday 23rd August is +8 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School, and Tuesday is11+.From Tuesday until Thursday, The RW Football School Summer Football Camp returns to Green Lane, Devizes, for ages 6-11.
Chippenham Museum has a one-hour workshop to create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by their latest exhibition on Wednesday, for ages 6+.
Thursday and Friday it’s Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore. And Thursday 26th August sees an Olympic Gold Medallist, Alex Danson running a Hockey Masterclass at Devizes Hockey Club. Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.
All weekender at The Barge on Honeystreet, when Honey Fest kicks off Thursday, with a grand local line-up, including The Lost Trades, The Blunders, and Chicken Shed Zeppelin, to name but a few.
The Southgate is the place to head towards on Friday in Devizes, where my personal indie-pop favourites, (not that I should have favourites) Daydream Runaways are booked in. Also, the highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green, all weekend, with the Full Tone Orchestra and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats appearing Sunday.
A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows on Saturday 28th August at Corsham’s Pound Arts. And Sunday, a Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars, Pop Princesses comes to Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.
Meanwhile, it’s the welcomed Triple JD Band at The Southgate, Devizes and HarrowFest at Wanborough’s The Harrow, featuring Jamie R Hawkins, The Blind Lemon Experience and more…
Whether, for you, it was a case of our maintaining our heritage for future generations, Pagan rights, as an economical attraction, saving the tax-payer a cool two-billion-plus, or the devastating environmental damage, no one can deny Stonehenge is our county’s world-renowned historic monument; we cherish it.
Come on, admit it, even Clark Griswold had more idea than Transport Secretary Grant Shapps! Last week I was imagining this article to be rant, major bad news, as the tunnel project risked the future of site, the surroundings and its right to be a World Heritage Site, and for what? The legacy of Boris? To shave a few minutes off commuting times?
But no, I will have to angle my antagonising elsewhere, because the High Court has today held that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acted unlawfully when granting permission for a dual carriageway and short tunnel through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site; at long last logic presides over power!
The judge found that the Secretary of State unlawfully failed to consider less-damaging ways of relieving the existing A303. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, and others have repeatedly called for a longer tunnel so as to protect the whole of the WHS. Just days before the judgment UNESCO’s Committee warned that if the shorter tunnel goes ahead, then Stonehenge might be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger next year.
As part of his judgement, Mr Justice Holgate noted the Transport Secretary’s acceptance that the road scheme would have caused permanent and irreversible harm to the WHS.
The Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site is delighted, “we are enormously grateful to our legal team for their work on the case. We also acknowledge the brilliant work of the Stonehenge Alliance, and the hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide who have, over many years, passionately supported the campaign to protect our internationally famous WHS. We are especially indebted to over 3,000 individuals who have helped to fund the legal action to date.”
John Adams, OBE, SSWHS Director and Acting Chairman of the Stonehenge Alliance, said, “we could not be more pleased about the outcome of the legal challenge. The Stonehenge Alliance has campaigned from the start for a longer tunnel if a tunnel should be considered necessary. Ideally, such a tunnel would begin and end outside the WHS. But now that we are facing a climate emergency, it is all the more important that this ruling should be a wake-up call for the Government. It should look again at its roads programme and take action to reduce road traffic and eliminate any need to build new and wider roads that threaten the environment as well as our cultural heritage.”
But we’re not clear out of the water yet. SSWHS awaits the Secretary of State’s decision on whether he will appeal against the judgement. Should he do so, the legal battle will continue to save the Stonehenge landscape for future generations to marvel at and enjoy. Continue to support the campaign, more details here: https://stonehengealliance.org.uk/
This is isn’t the favoured way to start a review, but this is idiot music for stupid people, if you think this is stupid then you’re a fucking idiot, and that’s a quote, from the opening title tack, which ends on, “oh, there it is, up my bum; can I eat it now?”
If Goldie Looking Chain is all too millennial, but hip hop, for you, should be served with massive chunks of deadpan sauce, west country tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and general silliness, Monkey Bizzle’s debut album, Idiot Music might just be the thing to pick off the menu.
Through the Pythonesque nature of Idiot Music though, wailing guitars, proficient drumming (from Cerys of the Boot Hill All Stars), and substantial dope beats means this is far from amateurish, and will rock the festival circuit. In fact, the Somerset five-piece sold out the album launch party at The Barge on Honeystreet a fortnight ago; I see why. This drips with Scrumpy & Western charm, like Gloucestershire’s Corky, Wurzels meets the Streets, the elements of “agricultural” hip hop make this apt for our local crusty scene. Yet with wider appeal, it is, simply, parental advisory fun.
Primates tend to be a running theme, a particularly danceable funky signature tune named Monkey Funk, a King Kong themed rap, another including David Attenborough samples. There are also drug references aplenty, the reggae-inspired Heavy, or Doves (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) needs no explaining, but in it, it mocks the chav culture in such a way you may’ve thought only Goldie Looking Chain could. Something it’ll inevitably be compared to, but more so than the humour drafting this side of the Seven, what makes this so appealing is its nod of respect to hip hop rather than mocking it, is greater than that of Goldie Looking Chain, in a similar way there’s was with Beastie Boy satirists Morris Minor and the Majors, if you get as old skool as I!
One thing’s for sure, Monkey Bizzle isn’t to be taken seriously, but for the most part it’s listenable to as a hip hop album rather than pure novelty too, unique rappers Skoob and James make this so, especially as the album trickles on, both CU Next Tuesday and Ha Ha Ha being particularly entertaining, Oi Mate ripples with The Streets’, Give Me My Lighter Back but under a ska riff.
Nothing here is going to become next summer’s banging anthem on Radio One’s Big Weekender, an honour they’re clearly not bothered by or striding towards. To face facts, what you get is a full album of highly entertaining flip-flop and amusing lyrics of daring themes, wrapped by gifted musicians only playing the fools. And for which, Idiot Music has got my name all over it!
Planned for Saturday 28th August, from midday until 10pm, an all-day festival in Swindon’s Town Gardens will be getting Swindon rockin’, and it’s all in aid of The Prospect Hospice.
Prospect Hospice has offered end-of-life care services in Swindon and north east Wiltshire since 1980.
The unconventional yet catchy named, ‘The My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ is being organised by the people behind The Swindon Shuffle in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council, is being held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar, who sadly died in early June at the Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer.
The charity festival, will be held at Town Gardens Bowl, a venue I thought was in a state of disrepair, after finding it walking through the park in Old Town as a student. Showing my age now, as it was refurbished in the mid-1990s, and is currently being used by the South Swindon Parish Council for a summer program of outdoor theatre!
Since 1936 the auditorium-styled Bowl has hosted many musical events. Standing in a grass-banked amphitheatre, created by quarry workings in the eighteenth century, it’s a beautiful setting known its outstanding acoustics.
Organiser Ed Dyer, of The Swindon Shuffle, said: “During their tenure at The Victoria and the 12 Bar, Dave, along with his wife Anna, revitalised the Swindon music scene, offering opportunities to hundreds of local musicians to show off and develop their talents. The pair created friendships and a lasting music family that still endures, leaving an indelible stamp on this town and many of the people within it.”
“It’s only fitting that this legacy is recognised by throwing a great big musical party and raising as much money as possible for Prospect, who helped keep David comfortable in his last months.”
The festival is now calling on local businesses to come forward to help fund the event so that as much money as possible can be raised for the charity. They are also looking for volunteers who want to show their support.
Sheryl Crouch, head of income at Prospect Hospice, said: “We’ve been so pleased to have been chosen as the local charity to benefit from this fantastic bank holiday music event in memory of the groups wonderful friend, I really can’t thank them enough. I can see the passion in the team to raise vital funds for the hospice after we cared for Anna’s husband Dave at the end of his life.”
“Support like this means a huge deal to us, especially at the moment when we’ve been unable to fundraise in our traditional ways but continue to offer specialist care to those who need it. I wish them all the very best for a successful and enjoyable event and we’ll be here to support them wherever we can.”
The organisers are made up of several key members of the Swindon music scene, including Andy Loddington, the man behind Summer Breeze and Jamie Hill, editor of The Ocelot. They are also working very closely with Anna Sprawson, the widow of Dave Young, who said: “Dave’s death has been a tragic loss to all who knew him. He was so full of life and gave so much to others whether it was his family and friends or to the music community.”
“I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate his life and all he meant to others by holding this one-day festival in aid of the Prospect Hospice who helped us all during such difficult times. We can’t do enough for this wonderful charity and we’re hoping to raise as much money as possible so they can continue helping more families in their time of need.”
The stellar musical line up is headed by David’s former folk-punk band, The Boys From County Hell, reuniting for the occasion to perform for the first time in more than a decade. They toured the internationally to huge acclaim.
Joining them will be Dave’s last band, the legendary punk covers outfit The Chaos Brothers along with Gaz Brookfield & The Company of Thieves, with whom he toured the UK as sound engineer.
Also featuring are a host of acts who were all championed by David in one way or another during his time as a cornerstone of the local music scene, including parody-party covers act Kova Me Badd, ska-punk band Slagerij, blues-funk three-piece Hip Route, and reggae act The Erin Bardwell Trio, and more are in the working. One only has to look at the diversity and quantity of acts queuing to play the legendary Swindon Shuffle, to know, the team have the experience to pull off a most fitting and memorable concert.
South Swindon Parish Council, who manage Town Gardens have also offered their full support to the festival. Cllr Neil Hopkins, Chair of Leisure, Environment and Amenities said, “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with The Shuffle, in support of what promises to be a fantastic family-friendly music festival in the heart of Town Gardens, in aid of Prospect Hospice.”
The festival is now calling on local businesses to come forward to help fund the event so that as much money as possible can be raised for the charity as well as volunteers to help on the day. Businesses and volunteers can get in touch with the team via email – email@example.com
‘The My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ will be held at Town Gardens Bowl on Saturday 28 August, from midday until 10pm. Tickets are available online via seetickets.com or in person at Holmes Music and The Tuppenny in Swindon and Sound Knowledge in Marlborough.
Early Bird (18+) – £15
Adult Ticket (18+) – £20
Concession Ticket (10-17 years) – £12
Child Ticket (Under 10 years old) – Free
Family Ticket – two adults and two concessions – £50
If I learned to take heed of Sheer Music chief promoter Kieran J Moore, when he Facebook posts about a new local discovery on a previous occasion, when I had the unexpected realisation outstanding Americana artist, Joe Edwards was virtually a neighbour, it’s paid off again.
The sounds of Daisy Chapman the subject this time, and it’s exquisite.
“How have we only just discovered each other?” Daisy responded. She may reside in Trowbridge but rarely gigs locally, concentrating on touring the continent. I listened fondly to the song he prompted, time for me to cut in on this dance.
Starter for ten, Daisy has an angelic voice of vast range. It could conjure enough emotion to make you tearful over a Chas n Dave cover, if she were to attempt it, which she probably wouldn’t, purely hypothetical!
Orchestral, at times, but dark, folk in another, if unconventional, there’s a thin line between heavenly and infernal here, as a sense of generation X sneaks in too, through conceivably progressive writing. Coupled with poignant narrative in these nine original good luck songs, a waiver away from archetype instruments and riffs of country and folk, and bold genre experimentations and crossovers, makes her third studio album, 2020’s Good Luck Songs something of a masterpiece.
It opens lone on piano, this divine voice, almost liturgical, but layers are building, a trusty cello will become a trademark throughout the album. The title track preps you for something unique, something obviously wonderful.
Into the second tune, Home Fires, and the tender euphoria continues through piano and cello combination, whisking you on its journey, of nostalgic recollections annotating seasonal change, the wordplay is sublime. Neatly layered into the existing recipe, a gothic folk element slips neatly into play by the third tune. Daisy’s voice willingly commands you, captivating you, like a child mesmerised with a campfire fable.
Then there’s Generation Next, a strictly country feel with a delicate fiddle, and brass, accompanying a tongue-in-cheek division, a tale which, despite the Americana sound, nods to gigging on a local circuit, from well-versed experts to the concept their advice is to be ignored by the younger upcoming performers. It is, quite simply, fascinatingly ingenious.
I used to own an Empire is another compellingly written emotional piece; on bonding to face a greater cause, articulated by a crusader boldness against aggrandizement. Through historic references it compares devastating impacts of political cuts, The Beeching Report, Miner’s Strike and even Custer and the Gettysburg Address to the ignorance of Icarus, as the wax of his wings melted from flying too close to the sun. An archetypal subject of leftism maybe, but you’ve never heard such expressed with such academic prose and orientation.
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do! The subjects of Good Luck Songs are concentrated, factual and tangible, emotionally expressed and divinely produced to an exceptionally high standard. But diversity makes it tricky to pin down, there’s a moment, in the haunting ambient opening of The Decalogue, which sounds so soulful, held steady with military style drum riff, yet the following song There’s a Storm Coming has a drum loop and high-hat, akin to a contemporary RnB song, or the country-pop of Shania Twain. Feels like succumbing to commercialisation, but in this, there’s a point; Daisy’s voice is so lithe, it could flex into any given genre or style, and finish on top.
Said versatility was first noticed by UK prog-rock band Crippled Black Phoenix, and since 2009, on and off Daisy has travelled as pianist/BV with the band on tours covering every corner of Europe as well as a short trip to China. Daisy was also chosen as vocalist on their cover of AC-DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” With a penchant for prog-rock, Daisy shares lead vocals with ex CBP singer, Daniel Anghede in the group Venus Principle.
And anyway, Good Luck Songs finishes with a sublime cover of Tom Waits’ Tom Traubert’s Blues, to confirm Daisy’s dedication to acoustic rock, but as expectable, it strips out the croaking vocals of Waits and replaces it with the pure silk that is Daisy Chapman. Believe me, if you’re captivated by strong female vocals, the kind that could bring a church down, but want for intelligent lyrics, this album will hold you spellbound from start to finish.
Rude girls grito! Far from home perhaps, but so, so worth mentioning for tropical vibes of rock steady and ska in a fashion proportionately you’ll find hard to come by around these parts, it’s my beloved all-girl-bar-one Mexican ska band, Girls Go Ska with a bran-new album Frente al Mar. Girls and ska, what’s not to like?!
From the off, the title track simply melts, mellowly, and builds in tempo, but is never overdramatic; “cool” is the operative word; fresco! If I’ve put them on a pedestal before, they’ve now put another couple of pedestals atop it. Often steady paced for the genre, it proves ska, while upbeat doesn’t have to be full of macho-bravura skinheads, or a frenzied rancour attack against dogmatic tyranny it’s often misperceived here through the eighties’ second-generation Two-Tone scene, and within the dominate contemporary ska-punk internationally. I’ve made this point in the past when penning a more general piece about ska and reggae in South America, in which Girls Go Ska were featured.
Frente al Mar is breezy, bright and fun, light-hearted and beguiling. It roots the genre to its original Jamaican ethos, as a carefree dance music. Though, there’s a large chunk of assumption with those observations, as my Spanish isn’t up to scratch, so my presumption rests on the design, the album name, which translates to the seaside, basically, and mood of the vocals; if they’re singing about anything other than romantic themes and enjoying oneself dancing on a tropical beach, like making political statement, it certainly doesn’t sound that way! You just have to enjoy the professionality and untroubled vibe this album breezes in your direction, it’s gorgeous, and it absolutely skanks!
Packaged femininely in loud pink and decorated with cute shōjo manga, rather than our typecast black and white chequered trade identity with Walt Jabsco splashed all over, Frente al Mar provides an alternative to norm, but is no way attributes the “fairer sex,” rather riot grrrl kick-ass in tenet, gender-neutral in sound. Not that punk comes into play; throughout it’s steadfast traditional ska sound, one should credit Studio One rather than Two-Tone, or even Reel Big Fish for, there’s also sprinklings of Latino sound traditional to Mexico, of ranchera, norteño and their contemporary offshoots, but are subtle and likely naturally occurring.
Imagine, if your English mind will adapt, Gloria Estefan performing ska, and you’re nearer to the mark than The Specials. But no, eight sublimely flowing tunes is what you get, a sun-kissed blessing on the ear, in the style of brass-based rock steady and good ol’ ska. While pukka boys, Death of Guitar Pop are currently returning the welcomed Nutty-Boys-esque frivolous and fairground ska home for lads, further afield, here comes the girls.
Meanwhile here in my hometown of Devizes, the newly opened rum bar, The Muck & Dundar has been a roaring success, proving a taste of the tropical is welcomed, ergo, taken out of its context and origins, Frente al Mar would make the perfect soundtrack to it. Me? I’m smitten, with a little crush!
Opps, near-on delayed a month due to the amount of work involved with promoting our Julia’s House album, other stuff going on, and generally slacking off in my garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts, I’ve a backlist of music to tell you about, hopefully, before you visualise me slacking off in the garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts.
To begin, Bath’s indie-pop favs, Longcoats have an official new bassist, Will Vickery. The band claim he was “a stray man we found on the street and august-rush style he could just hear the music and play it.” Proof in the pudding, I’ll double-bet ya you’ll going to love their new belter, “Get Dancing,” which is, incidentally just what we all need right now.
Probably why it’s blossoming attention and airtime from the likes of BBC Bristol, Target, Soho Radio, Sheppey FM, New York’s New Visions Radio Network, and even Australia’s Valley FM, and seeing them bookings at Moles, Brighton’s Pipeline, and supporting The Rift at Swindon’s Rolleston.
Just as Pretty in Pink did, which incidentally Longcoats kindly donated to our aforementioned and plugged charity fundraising compilation, (which I’m not going to shut up about until you buy it) Get Dancing is symbolic of the band’s ability to compose such a beguiling and catchy riff it feels like it’s always been in your life after just one listen.
It’s lively, carefree, resides bopping over hopeless romantically conversing, as it says on the tin, encouraging to dance in both sound and theme. And with that, I should take heed, stop writing how great it is and just add the Spotify link so you can hear it for yourself and I can revert back to the building mountain of new music I’ve yet to explore. But rest assured, this one is a keeper, and perhaps true to the word; I should get dancing if I’m ever going to work off this belly hanging over my khaki shorts!
Long overdue is the last third of our detailed track-listing for the compilation album, Various Artists 4Julia’s House, like most things on Devizine at the moment. What? I’ve been busy sorting out my wardrobe, throwing out the unfashionable items.
Now I’m left with a completely empty wardrobe, it’s time to give you the lowdown on the remaining artists we’ve not mention yet, who gladly donated an awesome track to put on our awesome compilation; everything is awesome. We’ve raised over £150 so far.
No, it really is, cos, right, if you think I loaded the beginnings of the album with the best tunes, dumped naff ones at the end and it trails off somewhere towards the middle, you’re gravely mistaken. Things had already been firing up on a funky tip, with Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth – Seed, SexJazz and Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue. We paused for breath last outing at track 33, the frenzy ska-folk of the Boot Hill All Stars. I’m glad to say that fashion continues…..
I have to say, I was over the moon when Bristol’s premiere ska-folk band Mr Tea & The Minions allowed us to use the title track from their 2019 album Mutiny.We fondly reviewed the album back then, haven’t quite gotten over it yet, and continue to insist I spin tracks on my Boot Boy Radio show, Ska-ing West Country. As while I might assume it wouldn’t go down so well with the largely older Two-Tone audience, when I do “folk shit up” there’s never a complaint.
It’s the infectious blend of the irresistibly danceable Balkan ska style, dub, and upbeat folk which does it, resistance is futile, you will bop till you drop, and Mr Tea & The Minions are truly top of this game. United by a love of tea, energetic dancing, cheeky riffs, silly hats, and cake, Mr Tea and the Minions have been unleashing their colourful explosion of musical mayhem on unsuspecting audiences since 2013.
Festival favourites with almost 100 festival appearances including Glastonbury, Boomtown, WOMAD, Secret Garden Party, Shambala, Belladrum, Wilderness, Nozstock, and Goulash Disko, to name just a few. The Independent had this to say; “The Minions seamlessly weave Balkan Beats with ska, dub and swing to create a bouncing set. It’s impossible not to get involved.”
35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo
If we’re bordering ska, which you know is the first love in my eclectic tastes, we’re in deep now. While most of our tunes are locally based, I looked further afield for this. Switzerland has a wonderful ska and reggae scene, and Fruits Records produce the classic and traditional sounds with the rare skill level of Studio One. So much so, reggae legends are queuing to record with them, and the likes of the Silvertones and Cornell Campbell have.
Two in-house bands, the 18th Parallel, and Cosmic Shuffling, this track is taken from the latter’s 2020 album Magic Rocket Ship.
They’ve been sending me press releases and tunes to play on Boot Boy, more than worthy breaking the local norms of Devizine to review tenderly. It was only in chatting to studio boss Mathias Liengme about the project, they were keen to donate a tune and allowed me to pick any off of Magic Rocket Ship; I chose this one, it’s wonderful, but not alone on the album, could’ve picked any one of them to be honest; just delighted to introduce you to them.
36. Blondie & Ska – Boom Boom Bang Bang
Returning to local affairs, while ska and reggae are somethings of a rarity around these parts, Chippenham duo, Blondie & Ska have really challenged my pigeonholing of what a tribute act is and does. Not only are the live performances they travel the lengths and breadths of the country to show a unique tenet of a Blondie tribute blended with covers of all those eighties Two-Tone classics, but they occasionally write and record their own compositions. And when they do, they sound like they could be a particularly ska’d up Blondie album track, what’s not to like?!
I spoke to one half, Dave Lewis about all this, back in May. I’m so glad they agreed to donate a tune, but much more than this, Boom Boom Bang Bang is mint, which has been exclusively created for the album. Now, that’s dedication to our cause, for which I’m eternally grateful to Dave and Lorraine for. Plus, it’s a rock steady banger!
37. The Birth of Bonoyster – The Way I Like To Be
To be the finale of our ska section of the album, it’s an all-out indie-ska-punk ride now, from London’s The Birth of Bonoyster. As if Jarvis Cocker fronted The Divine Comedy, there’s breakouts of Britpop, but warmed by being wrapped firmly in geeky-fashioned ska-punker tin foil.
Made friends with the frontman, Stew Simpson, rhythm guitarist and artist, when I complimented his sketch of Dave and Deborah of Devizes’ Southgate Inn, some time ago, and that’s a tenacious link to locality enough to present this amazingly addictive, if not slightly sweary, track, The Way I Like To Be. Aided by bassist Paul Stromdale, Paul Langford on lead guitar, and drummer Stu Soulsby, this nugget is from the album OYSTER, recorded in 2006 but never released until 2020.
38. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts
With one of those band names which sticks in your mind, THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW. I’d heard of Dorset’s seven-piece folk bohemians somewhere or other, before they kindly sent this gorgeous track. Formed in 2016, they’re storming the alternative-Celtic-punk-folk scene with their unique, and eccentric sound. Often dark, sporadically upbeat, there’s a flair of lyricism that’s hard to ignore, and a deep sound of country-core; Ghosts proves this, but the band are prolifically releasing EPs, like They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs, Oh Me Oh Mi, A Snake’s Snake, and Weeding out the Wicked, you need to take a listen to, Soundcloud being their favoured platform.
39. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time
If the previous tune from The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show cools the tempo, this one melts it. Like it too, it was sent surprisingly, I was completely unaware of Julie and Mel, and left astounded. Such a lovely, sentimental song about getting a second chance. It was written by Mel Reeves and Julie Meikle, a Taunton partnership reconnected from being old friends in 2019, and, together, they write and record their own distinctive material for which Julie creates much loved videos.
Julie Meikle has been a music teacher for primary children for over 30 years. She has sung with the Devon-based rock band Littermouth, and the pop band The Random Frogs. Julie has led many community choirs and orchestras, plays clarinet with the street band The Big Noise and a variety of folk groups.
Mel Reeves has been involved in music since leaving school. Whether it has been teaching guitar, playing in The Threepenny Opera (flamenco version!) or writing film scores for the I.L.E.A – his life has revolved around music making.
He founded the legendary Guitar Studio in Reading with Pete Lincoln (Sweet, Cliff Richard. Sailor, etc.) and Trevor Grant (Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army) where he wrote more than 24 tuition book/cassette packages for rock, jazz and blues guitarists. He went on to write and present more than 20 DVD programmes (Play Now Series) teaching, acoustic guitar, heavy metal, jazz and blues plus keyboard and bass programmes.
A move to Somerset saw Mel resume his teaching work, he also recorded/produced Noel (Windmills of Your Mind) Harrison’s final album and went on to accompany Noel for live performances of Noel’s touring show. Mel also plays in The Deane Big Band, Deftone 17, Big Noise Street Band and a jazz trio with multi-instrumentalist Timothy Milton Hill and bassist Jules Bushell.
40. Meru Michael – Mother Nature’s Boy
Another unbeknown to me before this project, Somerset’s singer/songwriter/sound healer Meru Michael. Meru has spent a number of years in the music business, as an independent label owner, recording studio and artist manager, and is currently co-managing Octopus Studios in Bruton. However, he has always been a player and songwriter and is currently devoted to releasing his own material. Meru currently resides in Somerset in the UK but has travelled widely and spent his formative years in the USA and Canada.
Mother’s Nature Boy is soulfully produced, with an irresistible cool vibe, picking our album up for what’s to come. It’s the title track from his 2020 4-track EP.
41. Cutsmith – Osorio
With his roots in the Canary Islands, Cutsmith now resides in Pewsey, and performs acoustically but largely inspired by urban sounds, hip hop and drum n bass, which he fuses with this “melodic folk and soul from the fields.” Vocalising for Devizes-based drum n bass label, SubRat Records, which he co-founded with Re:Tone, we reviewed the euphoric drum n bass tune Falling back in May last year. This track though, Osorio, sits better defined as hip hop, and is a wonderful praise of his homeland, which Cutsmith skilfully weaves back into love for living here now.
42. The Tremor Tones – Don’t Darken my Door
Cutsmith is the man to wind it nicely into the crucial reggae section of the album. If you know me well enough, you’ll know it couldn’t be complete without some reggae! Yet, locally reggae is harder to come by. I reverted back to a couple of years ago, when Bath-based The Tremor Tones sent me this splendidly gloomy-paced nugget of melancholy back when I started my show on Boot Boy Radio, and I knew I had to have it feature on the album.
But a despatched message to Adam of the band returned with the unfortunate note, The Tremor Tones ceased-to-be before the pandemic. The original drummer on the record passed away and nothing was officially released through a label after covid. Fortunately, suggested, being it was shame not to have promoted the tunes as much as they would’ve liked, it may as well be used for something positive and uplifting. And thus, for part-prosperity, part because it’s a great song, here is Don’t Darken my Door.
43. Big Ship Alliance, Feat Johnny2Bad, Robbie Levi & Stones – All in this Thing Together
So yes, with the absence of much reggae locally, and Erin Bardwell already topper most on our track-listing, I used connections made via Boot Boy Radio to source some tunes. When I first heard All in this Thing Together, I’d come up with idea of having a “song of day” article, something I could quickly post from my phone, without the need to type a lengthy review. I wasn’t expecting the idea to have much clout, at first, but when I realised artists on international levels would share the post, as Big Ship Alliance did, it gave Devizine wider attention.
Newly-formed just a year ago, this Birmingham-based seven-piece reggae collective, Big Ship Alliance started out as possibly the only tribute act to reggae legend Freddie McGregor, but on track to record their own material they’ve teamed up with the outstanding UB40 tribute act, Johnny2Bad for this gorgeous topical debut single, an anthem for lockdown. I’m glad they so kindly donated here, so the notion of unity, bought about by the pandemic, has universal meaning.
44. Urban Lions – We Say I
Of course, while I’m searching far and wide for reggae, there was some under my nose all the time. Urban Lions roar from Pewsey. I messaged them when planning this, we waffled on a variety of subjects, where Rupert Bear for some random reason was where it ended, when it should have been what we were doing about the track! Such is the relationship between them and Devizine, we’ve been reviewing their tracks since day dot.
In the midst of contacting so many artists at one time, I had clean forgotten where we left the decision, so this track was fashionably late for inclusion on the album; I’m so glad it made it.
Urban Lions are the live band from underground homegrown label Lionheart Records, creating and producing contemporary reggae steppa styles, dub and dancehall, and meshing them into a lively show which sees them step onto the world stage.
45. Neonian – Bubblejet
If I’m honest, I wanted more “dance” music, to give the album an unforgettable culmination, but the diversity and blend of styles Trowbridge’s Neonian can lattice into one song is so incredible, I’m content with the two tunes we did get. At times trance-techno, at time chemical beats, Bubblejet is the explosive finale I was hoping for, and it’s another exclusive track produced especially for the album.
Ian Sawyer is the man behind Neonian, his EP Vaxxor we glowingly, with neon, reviewed in March. The brilliance of Neonian’s sound is such it’s conversant to modernism but reflects all which has gone prior in electronic dance music. Ian describes it vaguely but aptly, “I make music, for myself. I can’t really describe it, but it’s mainly made with synthesisers, loops and samples. Influences include New Order, Boards Of Canada, Coil, Pye Corner Audio, Factory Floor.”
46. First Born Losers – Ground Loop
If Neonian cites the post-punk dawn of electronica, groups like New Order as an influence, even more so with this track from Devizes-based producer Robert Pennells, and “outcasts from a number of experimental bands,” aka First-Born Losers.
It’s meaty synth, dark experimental bass music with distorted melodies, effected drums, mangled samples and guitars, akin to the properties of dubstep or chemical beats but as moody as gothic of yore, yet, I don’t know, trying hard to put my finger on it.
I think if Art of Nosie or Yello were still around, they might sound a little some like this. It grinds our album to a memorable halt. They’ve just released a newer single of similar content, Dead Chicken Society, and we await the forthcoming album via “Miasma Records”.
And that’s all folks. It’s been a pleasure and experience compiling this album, and I know there were many others who wanted to contribute but didn’t send a track in time. There’s no point in taking what I’ve learned along this journey without putting it to good use, so a more streamlined process will be used to create a second volume. The concept is, if you have a song you’d like to contribute, please send it whenever and I will gradually build up the list and release it when we’ve enough tracks. Undecided, but I might yet raise for a different charity next time.
I’m thinking the brilliant Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, a preschool for children with learning disabilities. I originally approached them about the project, but they took some time to reply, so I promised it to Julia’s House. As with all the artists who didn’t send me a tune quick enough, unfortunately I was keen to push ahead with haste on this project, as once lockdown restrictions opened up once again, artists and bands would be busy concentrating on gigs and festivals, etc.
And I wish them all the best, so kind under the pressure of the times, they freely donated a tune, and it makes for a diverse compilation, showcasing so many you may not have heard of before. In a year of no festivals, this album, I wanted to do what the festival does, introduce you to some new acts, so please give these guys your support, buy their albums and catch them at live gigs. Of which on the latter, if you do, be sure to tell them where you heard of them before.
Lastly, thanks to you, in considering purchasing this album, it’s a bargain, and for such a good cause; I hope you enjoy the ride!
Managed to make it somewhere between out and Micky Flanagan’s out-out last night. In other words, I didn’t change out of my manky khaki shorts I’d been gardening in, but still got a pint or so down “the Gate.” I’ve been aching to witness the duo, TwoManTing for myself, Captain Obvious; yes, TwoManTing is a duo, you can’t make it up.
Appearing at the Devizes trusty Southgate a few times previously, it’s been something I’ve been meaning to catch-up with, being their appellation sounds all rather reggae, my favourite cup of tea. My residual curiosity though, how can a duo make reggae, something you surely need a gang for; a bassist, a drummer, brass section et all?
Answer revealed, the “ting” part might be misconceiving to our preconceived notion the phonologic is Jamaican patois. The Bristol-based duo consists of English guitarist Jon Lewis, who has a clear penchant for Two-Tone and punk inclinations of yore, and Jah-man Aggrey, a Sierra Leonean percussionist. They met playing together as part of dance band, Le Cod Afrique, at venues such as Montreux Jazz Festival and WOMAD, formed the duo in 2004, and make for an interesting and highly entertaining two-man show.
Something of a surprise then, and a rarity around these backwaters, to hear maringa, demonstrative folk of Sierra Leone, perhaps catered more to our tastes via Jon, but essentially the same ballpark, acoustic guitar and percussion. Somewhere between calypso but with the Latino twinge of rhumba, best pigeonholed, their sound is motivating and beguiling, and achieved with originality. In fact, to my surprise most of their compositions were their own creations, save the sublimely executed known cover of The Clash’s Guns of Brixton, Jon’s clear punk inspiration showing forth.
They told there’s a Clash cover on each album, of which they’ve produced three. Story checks out; Armagideon Time on their first album Legacy, which I could quibble is actually a Coxsone’s Studio One cover by the Clash, aforementioned Guns of Brixton on 2015’s Say What? and something of a rarity from Combat Rock, the poet Allen Ginsberg’s duet with Strummer, Ghetto Defendant, which can be found on their most up-to-date album, 2019’s Rhymes With Orange.
But this punk influence is sure subtle, the mainstay of their enticing sound is the acoustic maringa, palm wine music traditional throughout West Africa, at least for the start of the show. The most poignant moment for me was Jah-man attributing his homeland’s natural glory, rather than that which people tend to ask him about, the civil conflicts and war, in a chorus which went, “why not ask me about….”
As the performance progressed the fashion modernised, live loops upped the tempo, and it became highly danceable afro-pop, in the style of soukous, more spouge than cariso in delivery; how apt for the current heatwave! At times lost in the music, it was easy to throw-off the notion the wonderful sound was reverberating from just two guys, rather than an eight-piece band, reason enough for BBC 6Music’s Lauren Laverne to say of TwoManTing, “brilliant – if you want a bit of early summer, then get this into your ear-holes!”
Today they can be caught at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, but appreciation again to The Southgate for supplying Devizes with something diverse and entertaining. Next Saturday at “the Gate,” Rockport Blues appear, for a night of blues, rock and soul classics, starting at 7:30pm.
Continuing from last week, here’s the second episode of our crime-drama, Gull Able…. if only Netflix was reading this we’d have ourselves a hit series quicker than you can say “mummy, that nasty seagull shate in my ice cream.”
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
1984 by George Orwell
As the jollity of a carefree leaflet campaigning outing, for the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson, and backed by Danny Kruger, is brazenly and shamelessly shared across the popular Facebook platform Devizes Issues, anyone with a questioning opinion is immediately thrown out the group; including me!
Allow me thus, to throw my toys out of my pram in dismay, the best way I know how! Oh, the calamity, the drama! The only real issue in Devizes, is that even social media is a predisposition.
Yes, I shared the “almost” parallel Orwell quote above, after my comment was deleted, twice, expressing the anger felt by many Wiltshire residents as to why money is ploughed into the candidate’s campaign, while taxpayers could face a £1.4m bill to hold another election, because of the Conservative Party’s impertinence in running a previous candidate who had a criminal record making him unable to stand. I figured it was a genuine and just thought, considering the circumstances.
Hardly a big secret, heck, you all know the story; Conservative candidate Johnathan Seed pulled out of the first election after hit and run, and drink driving offences the party carelessly assumed could be brushed under the carpet, came to light. And rather than the cost effective and democratic process of simply going with the second choice, Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster, it’s been decided a Police Crime Commissioner couldn’t possibly be anything less than a tory, so the whole shebang would have to be rerun.
Meanwhile, Wiltshire Police launch an investigation into the scandal, which is, to-date, still in progress. Yet the election goes ahead on 19th August, when I ask you, them, and everyone of Wiltshire, if you think it right not to wait until the inquiry has concluded prior holding a new election? With such a shocking revelation, how can any of you trust a Conservative candidate ever again, if it was discovered the Party knew of the convictions? And furthermore, what kind of madcap, totalitarianism is this, which dismisses such an assessment as a thoughtcrime?
I personally don’t want anyone who stands for a party which allows criminals to run as a Police Crime Commissioner, there’s an irony there sky-rocketing over some serious heads!
Ever a poor imitation of the original, The Devizes Issue, and named in such a way to narrowly escape trade descriptions if it was a product rather than a Facebook group, Devizes Issues has a 12.9k audience. The Facebook group is perhaps the second most popular general page for Devizes residents, initially set up by local Facebook users disgruntled by the original group’s ruling of no political subject matter, but run under the iron fist of a local Conservative town councillor, I and many others have often criticised its naturally right-wing bias. My argument thus; call a spade a spade, if you intend to have a group for local Conservative thinkers, then call it something which relates to this, but do not disguise it as general local group, for that is deceitful.
Ha, nearly as deceitful as fox-chumping Mr Seed, see a pattern evolving here?
Now I’m advised, if I get the chance to interview Philip, I should take it. In other words, that’s my way out of room 101, and back into what is, primarily, a great and informative Facebook group. Day-to-day it provides an endless stream of informative local matter. Such a shame so many have been pitilessly shoved out of it, including many opposition councillors, MPs and candidates, simply for arguing a contrasting opinion.
The only element incomparable to Orwell is it’s far from the bee-all-and-end all of local social media. There’s more than one way to skin a cat; if you rely on me sharing Devizine articles there, you may well have to change your habits by ensuring you’ve liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter, for the time being. There’s a thing, I think the heat is getting to him, he just needs a big, teddy bear hug!
Because of my local social media diplomatic immunity, I get a response from admin, an honour most traitors to the Tory line are not bestowed. I’m told, “he [the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson] is a good man and has sympathy that he has had to refinance due to the previous election. Philip should have been the candidate last time and wasn’t, it’s a mistake but it can’t be changed. We have to move on and make sure people get a fair choice.” Yes, Conservative Party; pay the cost of the re-election, then we can move on.
An opportunity I would be honoured to, and welcome, as I have interviewed previous PCC candidates. A process which, I might add, is counter-productive for Devizine, as any one-party candidate I do interview tends to receive angered social media comments condemning my reasoning for allowing a platform to a party they personally don’t like, and any previous interviews I have conducted with other party’s candidates and independents is long forgotten. It must also be noted, the majority come from, coincidently, a conservative ethos, when in all actual fact, Johnathan Seed was the first PCC candidate I interviewed. So, stick that in your pipe!
Because, and please take heed Mr Wilkinson if you are reading this, the assumption seems to be my comment was an attack on you, when it never was about that. The point was if the Conservative Party are at fault, should they not cover the £1.4m bill to hold another election, rather than squander cash on a campaign.
And neither is this article an attack on you, or anyone else. Rather it is a shame, I believe, when political bias has to get in the way of a relationship otherwise built on pacification, by those who feel the need to pettily censor local social media. It’s not the Daily Mail, anyone with a Facebook group of over a thousand “likes” is not Rupert Murdoch; there is no need for political bias, the town is a guaranteed Tory haven anyway! The result turning Seed’s way despite all the well-publicised dishonour and humiliation is proof of this blind voting; if they splodged a blue rosette onto a lobotomised potbelly pig, Wiltshire would still vote it in.
Unless, no… unless they suspect the tide is turning! We live in hope.
Generally, the hospitality industry is cutthroat and fast paced, a constant competition to keep up with trends and modern consumer behaviour. While Devizes is like any other town, with pubs and restaurants striving to be the next big thing, that culture is subtle at the best of times, most folk of our bustling but quaint Wiltshire market town crave precisely the opposite. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, we think its ‘nice’ when something new crops up, but secretly we don’t fully embrace change and modernisation, rather we favour tradition and dependability; that’s what gives Devizes its simplicity and charm.
One such mainstay is the freehouse, the British Lion, shortened to “the British,” to locals. It’s never changed as long as I’ve known it and been here. It focuses on an ‘if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing” ethos, breathing tradtion through its rafters. The British Lion is a fixed institution, a pub of reliability; what you see is what you get, and you know full well what to expect. The landlord, Mike has run it since the dawn of civilisation, the efficiency, ambince and philosophy remains as it always was. And that’s why we congratulate it today, for having been awarded a Golden award as part of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Official 50th anniversary celebrations. Well done to Mike and the team at the British, and throughly well deserved.
CAMRA awards director explained, “winners were chosen for their successes in standing the test of time; for being characterful and community-focused, and for consistently pouring great pints. I applaud these pubs for their dedication, for being community stalwarts and campaigning heroes.”
One of only three pubs in the entire South West region to win the award, the British Lion’s key feature, other than it’s steeping tradition and splendid and spacious beer garden, is it’s dedication to bringing its punters a wide selection of beverages, often unavailable elsewhere in town, and supportive of smaller brewers.
To walk into the British and suddenly find its changed into a neon, glitzy wine bar would be utterly unbelievable to locals, who’ve relied on this mainstay in our pub culture for so long, and everyone has an amusing story to tell about a particular night, or other, in this fine establishment where nothing is over-complicated, or striving to keep up with the Jones’s. And, might I say, through “black rat monday,” to many fond memories in there myself, long may it live on!
I’m delighted to introduce you to our new writer, T.B.D. Rose, here with details of a nice local walk. I’m hoping this might become something of series, as we all need a little more exercise and there’s such a huge selection of beautiful tracks and trails to choose from! Thank you, TYG.
Beginning past our Town Hall currently adorned with Union Jack’s and through St. John’s Court into St. John’s Church, where once you pass the gate into the church yard you turn right and head over the Bridge leading you to Devizes Medieval Trail.
Standing on the bridge, on the way out of the church yard almost completely untouched by time and leading into suburbia, you can take in the ancient majesty of Devizes Castle from afar.
At the end of the trail, you’ll come into the Hanging Grounds, where you’ll see a plaque detailing the Castle’s fascinating historical significance. A word of warning about the Hanging Grounds though: it’s said little can grow and nothing can be built there due to its haunting history.
From the Hanging Grounds you can turn right to the local Co-op or turn left and walk till you reach the entrance of Hillworth park.
Hillworth park, almost every corner of which holds an exciting activity or notable attraction waiting to be discovered, is an all-round informative and just fun place to explore with its beautifully maintained landscape and small but scrumptious café. Their toasties get a recommendation from me!
So that pretty much sums up our journey, it’s gorgeous, tranquil and altogether convenient for anyone visiting or local who fancies a good stroll through what must be one of our most historical Devizes areas.
Everyone has their own ways and methods of supporting England in the Euro finals; hanging flags and bunting, drinking far too much lager and intending to be comatose by 8pm, having loud fun, causing chaos and trashing the place, as is the British way (!), forgetting there’s this silly little deadly pandemic thing, etc. Will it come back to haunt us? Perhaps, but right now the country is gripped with football fever.
Some have decided to use it to political point score, I’m trying my upmost to ignore the gammonites and hypocritical ministers. Some MPs have gone into hiding as they don’t like the gestures of equality, and Richard Branson has gone into space; it’s the gift that keeps giving!
But how are we celebrating around these parts? Who has an original, unique or creative project to share, peaceful even?! Do let us know and I might, just add them here! I said “might.” I don’t want any images of you puking up in the shape of the St George’s flag, thanks. Neither do I want you messaging me after 8pm! Anyhoo, here’s what I’ve found so far…..
Well, Bath’s Da Fuchaman & His Fire Blaze Band are on fire with this song, Kick the ball – Football Is Coming Home (England football song)
Devizes mini-roundabouts have been given a St George’s Cross makeover, by an unknown street/piss artist, (delete as appropriate!) but whoever you are, Red Cross Code Man, good on you, just remember to stop, look and listen.
Devizes poet Gail Foster has an amusing Gareth Southgate sonnet for you, at least it turns her attentions away from Danny Kruger!
The Southgate Inn, Devizes has temporarily changed its name to the Gareth Southgate Inn!
Rowde Parish Councillor John Dalley has decided to reembark on a fundraising mission he did a decade ago, travelling the country on motorbike visiting all 92 football league clubs of England. Thinking bigger, John wants to visit every club in the UK this time. We wish you all the best, John, and we should report more fully on your amazing efforts in due course.
Salisbury Cathedral admire the detail of their beautiful stained glass windows, noting the Three Lions based in the west window. The vibrant shield dates back to the 1260s and represents Henry III’s coat of arms.
Royston Bolwell says his daughter said, “Italy will win,” as they make the best pizza! I’m not sure about the patriotism, but I like the idea. I told my daughter we’d get a Massimos if Italy win!
Talking Massimos, they’re ready for the European Cup with some apt looking cookies.
Request-artist Jim’ll Paint It painted football coming home with a bucket of vindaloo to find his wife in bed with another sport, as requested by fan Louis Simmons. Which isn’t local I know, but I liked it so much!
There’s a campaign to rename London “Sterlingrad” if England win the euros! You may think it’s a joke, because it probably is, but it’s got near on 3,000 signatures too date!
And finally, a message for the England squad from some of the kids at Tyrone Ming’s Academy, Bristol. Lets not forget Tyrone first played for Chippenham.
Wishing the England squad all the best of luck from Devizine!
Oh yeah, and Mickety McSpangle of the Boot Hill All Stars and Sounds of the Wilderness show on West Wilts Radio, wanted me to show off his “massive facking cake” he, or his better half has been busy making; you ledge, mate! Something to be very proud of…
Got your ticket for Manton-Fest yet? Well, hurry up, I need you to give me a lift!
“Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about;” that’s what I said in a preview last January, oblivious to what was about to be thrown up in our faces. At least all my typing did not go to waste with this one preview, as Manton-Fest is back for 2021 and set to go ahead on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday, the 21st.
Here comes a clip-show then, part-copy and paste, as some of the faithful acts booked for last year are intending to come to this one. As I’ve said before, write off 2020, pretend it didn’t happen, and look forward to this summer. Nesting in the water meadow of Manton Grange, below Treacle Brolly, Manton-Fest is surely one to put in your diary.
The tickets are online only: £30 for adults, £10 for teenagers 12 to 15 years and £5 for 7 to 11 years. But hurry, as there’s a pre-crowd; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021 and ticket numbers will be restricted to allow social distancing.
The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar. I’m lucky enough to have seen the real McCoy, so expect me to be critical!
The legendary hard-driving rock n roll- blues virtuosos, Dr Feelgood are also booked. A band which never left the road, from forming in 1971 to lead vocalist, Lee Brilleaux’s untimely passing in 1994, they’re still strong.
The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex-Big Country, Graham Pollock ex-The Hollies, Peter Barton ex-The Animals, Phil Bates ex-ELO and Geoff Hammond ex-Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly, with a wealth of experience between them it couldn’t possibly go wrong.
Vintage blues with a hard-edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, a band who delivered such a mind-blowingly addictive riff on our (plug) 4Julia’s House album, and one I’m very much looking forward to. Another unticked on my must-see tick-list is the excellent Richard Davies and The Dissidents. Since glowingly reviewing their album Human Traffic, they’ve also kindly contributed a track to our Julia’s House album, an outtake from the album.
Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit in previous years. Josie & The Outlaw are “MantonFest veterans,” a 4-piece Americana multi-genre band, blending rock n roll and rhythm & blues into country. Marlborough based beat-combo Catfish are a returning favourite, and Skedaddle are Manton’s very own six-piece semi-acoustic band.
All of this, and perhaps more, will be compered by Marie Lennon for BBC Radio Wiltshire. This festival has a long history, with Katrina & The Waves, Toyah, The Troggs and Led Zeppelin tribute Whole Lotta Led on the billings, so they know what they’re doing; me, I’m looking forward to finally breaking my MantonFest cherry; is there time to buy a festival-jester’s hat?!
Oh yes, it’s coming, you can feel it in the air; or is that more rain? Take a deep breath, because here’s our lowdown on stuff to keep your darling princesses and special little guys busy during the summer break, across our area, to retain some of your sanity and keep you from maxin’ your Wine Warehouse loyalty card.
Ongoing and regularly updated, bookmark this, mums and dads, and check back from time as more stuff will hopefully be added. Please note Devizine cannot accept responsibility for the safety of links outside of this site, the cancelation or failure of organisers to maintain events listed. Thanks, enjoy your summer holidays, and stay safe!
Submissions: use the contact form at the bottom to tell us about your event, and I will add it onto our list!
From Saturday July 10th: Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge @ Devizes Library
Join the Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge for four- to 11-year-olds from Sat 10 July. The fun free challenge helps children improve their reading skills whilst having fun, it’s also great for good mental health. Children are challenged is to read six library books over the summer (including eBooks), so come into the library from this Saturday and pick up your bag of materials (including a map of Wilderville and stickers) while stocks last! Medals and certificates for children who complete the challenge will be available for collection after Monday 2 August.
Running from Tuesday 13th until Saturday 17th July, The Wharf Theatre in Devizes presents Collected Grimm Tales, by the Brothers Grimm, directed by Debby Wilkinson.
Familiar and less known stories from the Brothers Grimm are brought to the stage in this acclaimed adaptation. Using a physical and non-natural style of performance, these are stories that will journey into the warped world of imagination. We will see Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, all performed by a small, adult cast on a simple set. The audience will be required to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for adults and children alike!
Wednesday July 14th: Starcrazy – Open-Air Theatre back again at Ogbourne Maizey
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY BILL SCOTT, WITH ORIGINAL MUSIC BY TOM ADAMS
October 1957: the world lives in fear of nuclear war, Russia has launched Sputnik 1, UFOs are cropping up everywhere, MI5 is on high alert and Stanley is building something in his garden shed.
He may live in suburbia but, in his mind, Stanley is voyaging through outer space. He hopes to make contact with other life forms. His neighbour, Gwen, thinks he should be exploring the unknown much closer to home…
A cosmic comedy about obsession and the rekindling of love, hope and possibility
Estimated running time: 1hr 10 mins, no interval
Everyone welcome, but as a guide we recommend the show for age 7+
Saturday July 17th – Saturday July 24th: Charlie & Stan @ Theatre Royal Bath
In 1910, the then unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail from Liverpool to New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On the voyage, they shared a cabin, they shared comedy routines and they shared laughter. Inspired by real life events, Told by an Idiot’s acclaimed production is the remarkable story of the greatest double act that nearly was and is a hilarious and deeply moving homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever. Tickets from £23. Children best seats £22.50 at all performances.
Friday July 16th: Under 5’s Coffee and Craft Morning @ Wiltshire Scrapstore
Friday July 16th: King Arthur at Manor Farm, Upton Cheyney
Local theatrical tour of a fun and farcical family adventure by The Last Baguette. Suitable for ages 5+
Somewhere in England, a long time ago, a very, very, very long time ago. So long ago that nobody quite knows whether it happened or not. Or where it happened or not. A boy pulled a sword from a stone and became King. A story of the old world, with knights, wizards, mist and magic. This fun and farcical adventure is deliberately anarchic and anachronistic re-telling of the Arthurian Legend with live music, physical comedy and lo-fi acrobatics. And some silly jokes…
This is an outdoor production, please bring your own chairs, blankets. The field at Manor Farm will be open from 6pm for picnics, prior to the 7pm performance. The tour continues, courtesy of Pound Arts, see below for other venue dates.
Saturday July 17th: Food Glorious Food Photography Day: Cricketts Lane & Lords Mead Allotments, Chippenham.
Join the Photo Club and Chippenham Museum at a local Chippenham allotment to learn how to capture portraits of fresh produce. These free sessions take place on Saturday 17 July at the following times: Time: 10am – 12pm Ages: 9-14years. Location: Cricketts Lane. Time: 12:30-2:30pm Ages: 15-18 years. Location: Cricketts Lane.
These free sessions are part of a celebration of locally grown and seasonal produce by The Food School have been made possible through funding from Chippenham Borough Lands Charity.
Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th July: the Southern Counties Organ Festival on The Large Green Devizes.
Sunday July 18th: King Arthur at Kington Langley Recreation Ground.
See above (Friday July 16th)
Monday July 19th: The Farm Cookery School
Kids who can cook, well, I say, have to be the best kind of kids ever! The Farm Cookery School at Netherstreet Farm near Bromham has a great summer programme, in a kitchen divided into 6 Covid-Safe Acrylic ‘Cookery Pods’. Each pod is suitable for 2 children to share.
Starting Monday 19th July with a Cookery Camp, for children aged 11+ where the young chefs get to come along for 2 days (8.30am – 4.00pm) to learn all about food; make breakfast, lunch & snacks to eat at the school, then make tea and desserts which they will take home with them. The camp includes 2 days of tuition, ingredients, recipes & meals.
I’ll list the events here, simply with a brief title, as there’s so many good ones!
Monday July 19th – September 12th: Under the Moon @ Longleat
Discover the wonderful creatures of the dark who have inhabited The Longhouse under the light of the Moon. Then explore Longleat’s nocturnal wildlife with dramatically enlarged straw sculptures in the open air.
Experience the astounding astronomical work of art by UK artist, Luke Jerram, titled the Museum of the Moon, as you wander up close to the orbital illuminator of the night. This 6 metre suspended replica of our Moon was created using detailed NASA imagery with each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture representing 6km of the moon’s surface!
Then observe the fascinating flora and fauna of the dark such as bioluminescent algae, blind cave fish, and the slender loris. Discover the mysterious creatures of dark with illuminating insights on their adaptations like why the blind cavefish have no eyes and emperor scorpions glow a bluish-green under UV light.
Step outside of The Longhouse and the wildlife exploration continues with a focus on the native animals active around the Park at night. Discover more about the barn owl, fox, mole, snail and others as we celebrate our nocturnal wildlife with huge straw sculptures.
Join us for a summer of exploration of new and native animals
Need to know
This exhibition is designed to be a sensory, calm experience, utilising the wide space of The Longhouse.
The Longhouse is fully accessible.
The number of guests in the Longhouse will be monitored and managed throughout the day to maintain safe social distancing and guest comfort.
Friday July 23rd: King Arthur at Sherston Village Hall
See above (Friday July 16th)
Saturday July 24th: Bromham Teddy Bear Trail
Bromham Carnival may’ve been cancelled but there will be a Teddy Bear Trail on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th July. This year’s theme will be ’60 Years of Family Films’ with 40+ Teddies around the village, created and generously sponsored by local businesses and individuals. See how many you can guess – and enjoy a walk round the beautiful village of Bromham. Refreshments available. Entry forms £2.50 each available from the Social Centre in New Road.
Tuesday July 27th: Devizes Tennis Club Holiday Camp
Anyone for tennis? Summer camps start on 27th July at Devizes Tennis Club, ongoing sessions from 10am-3pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 19th August.
Wednesday July 28th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre
I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities. Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first is Senior Actors with Lou is on Wednesday July 28th, for school years 10-13.
Wednesday July 28th: Summer Holiday Workshops @ Chippenham Museum: Make an Embroidery Sampler.
Ages 8 and above. 10.30am – 12.30pm Join Members of the Bath Textile Artist Group to make an embroidery sampler at Chippenham Museum. Once it was only girls who used to have fun with samplers but now anyone can have a go. Come and explore the history of samplers and start to stich your own. You will learn different stitches and can choose a range of motifs to produce your own design or sew a prepared piece. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced stitcher there will be something for you.
Wednesday July 28th: Bath Rugby Summer Camp coming to Devizes RFC
Bath Rugby coaches are back on the road again and coming to a rugby club near you! A full summer of coaching activity has been planned across Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset ensuring that everybody has the chance to get involved. And what’s more, we have a session at Devizes RFC on Wednesday 28th July! The camp is designed for U7’s through to U16’s looking to hone their skills and is open to all abilities.
Thursday July 29th: Fireman Sam Saves the Circus @ Bath Forum
When all of his friends go away, Norman Price decides to find adventure in Pontypandy and become the star of a visiting circus. But with a tiger on the loose and faulty lights, the adventure soon turns to danger. Can Fireman Sam come to the rescue and save the circus?
Join Sam, Penny, Elvis, Station Officer Steele and Norman in an all singing, dancing, action-packed show. You can become a fire-fighter cadet and then watch the magic of the circus.
So, come along to Pontypandy and watch the adventures unfold!
This event is being sold as a socially distanced event at the present time, but should government guidelines allow, socially distanced seating may not be in place at the time of the event. Book Here
Friday July 30th: King Arthur at The Corsham Almshouse
See above (Friday July 16th)
Saturday 31st July: MFor 2021 @ Lydiard Park
If you fancy taking your kids to a local family festival with acts they’ll enjoy, rather than being dragged along to, check out MFor 2021 at Swindon’s Lydiard Park. Craig David, TS5, Sigala, Raye, Ella Henderson, Gracey & more! Lots of entertainment is included in the Saturday ticket price and you are promised a fantastic music line-up. Under 5s go FREE.
The Great Poppy Party @ The Crown, Bishops Cannings
Wednesday August 4th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre
I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities. Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first Junior Actors with Lucia workshop is on Wednesday August 4th, for school years 6-9.
Wednesday August 4th:Children’s Art Walk by Chippenham Museum
2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park.
Take a walk through Monkton Park with a bit of a difference. For this fun arty session, you will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.
An interesting sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman is staged at Bath’s Forum early August. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.
I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities. Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The second workshop for Senior Actors with Lou, for school years 10-13 and Junior Actors with Lucia workshop, for school years 6-9.
Writing & Performance Workshop by Chippenham Museum
9.30am – 3.30pm. Ages 8 and above, please bring a packed lunch.
Come and join writer, facilitator and performer Ruth Hill for a day of writing and performing. In the morning you will write something inspired by the museum’s exhibition which focusses on local Victorian diarist Rev. Francis Kilvert. Using the exhibition for inspiration, you will write stories, poems and scripts. Ruth will help you create a piece of work you are proud of and in the afternoon, you will work together to direct, stage and perform your pieces of writing to a small audience of your family and friends. You can take part as a writer, performer, director or all three. Come and develop your skills, whether you love writing and performing, or just want to give it a go.
Thursday 12th – Friday 13th: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock
Saturday 14th August: Charity Emergency Service Day @ Cobbs, Hungerford
A police car and van, fire responder car, and fire truck are visiting Cobbs. A free event hoping to raise some money and put a little love back into our emergency services, to say thank you for the incredible job that they do. There will be a raffle. Please note: If you would like breakfast or lunch in the cafe, book a table in advance: www.cobbsfarmshops.co.uk/book-a-table
Friday August 20th: The Grimm Sisters @ Corsham Almshouses (outdoor theatre)
Suitable for ages 6+. Pound Arts are excited to welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous brand-new show to Corsham, for an outdoor performance at Corsham Almshouses. Please bring along chairs, blankets, cushions, afternoon teas and picnics. The venue will be open one hour prior to the performance start time for audience to arrive, settle in and get comfortable.
Saturday August 21st: Live at Lydiard 2021
Another one-day festival at Swindon’s Lydiard Park, with Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headlining. Information is vague on this one, but by the line-up it sounds family-friendly.
WIND IN THE WILLOWS, 28 August, 6.30pm @ Pound Arts.
A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, performed in The Pound arts centre car park. Calf 2 Cow wowed a sold out crowd here at the arts centre back in June with their outdoor theatrical extravaganza “The Wave”, and now they’re back! This time they’re retelling a classic children’s tale, known the world over, with a modern gig-theatre twist. https://mailchi.mp/poundarts/wind-in-the-willows-a-theatrical-outdoor-experience
Sunday August 29th: Pop Princesses @ Wyvern Theatre, Swindon
A Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars! This is the children’s pop concert with a big difference. A musical spectacular starring four fabulous Fairy tale Princesses who just love to sing! It’s the perfect mix. Featuring a soundtrack of top pop hits from artists such as Little Mix, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and internet sensation, JoJo Siwa, plus songs from all your favourite Films and Musicals.
Saturday 4th September: Twilight Cinema in the Park @ Hillworth Park, Devizes
Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Hillworth announce this year’s Twilight Cinema film is the Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long!! Pre-film music, pop-up bars, and food. Tickets.
Saturday 4th September:Horrible Histories Live @ Bath Forum
We all want to meet people from history! The trouble is everyone is dead!
So it’s time to prepare for Horrible Histories live on stage with the acclaimed production of Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians!
Are you ready to swing with a Georgian king? Can you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke the Wellington get the boot? Dare you dance the Tyburn jig? Will you be saved by Florence Nightingale? Find out what a baby farmer did and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria!
Don’t miss this horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!
First thing I’ve got to do this week is to congratulate Carmela Chillery-Watson, our seven-year-old local heroine, for being chosen by WellChild, the national charity for sick children as their inspirational child in her age category. The celebration finale came last week, with a ceremony in which Harry Duke of Sussex presented her the award, amidst a star-studded audience.
I couldn’t agree more with WellChild’s excellent choice, being personally inspired by Carmela. It’s been a little less than two years ago when Carmela’s mum Lucy sent a fundraising poster for me to share on Devizine, and after talking to her about her daughter’s rare form of muscular dystrophy I thought, you know what, I could do more than this to help. And yes, it ended in a warm August morning, delivering milk, as is my “real” job, dressed in my Spiderman onesie!
Lucy had suggested Carmela prefers Wonder Woman as a superhero, but the practicalities, not forgoing the visual impact of me in blue star-studded hot pants might be pushing it too far! So, Carmela joined me for a short stint, to deliver the bottles, dressed as Wonder Woman, and we raised approximately £1,500 for some specialist equipment to make her life somewhat easier.
The apt association with Wonder Woman stuck for Carmela, who’s various fundraising efforts caught the attention of Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot last year, and she kindly donated over £3,000. Inspired by the superhero, Carmela took on 300km in 30 days dressed as her hero, but it really did take it out of her with. There were days spent in pain and suffering with vertigo sickness, due to her spine curvatures and strain on her weak muscles.
A similar gauntlet is laid this year, the aim being a united 1,500 miles, the total it takes from Wiltshire to where they filmed Wonder Woman in Southern Italy. Commencing on the 1st September, the family hope to do it with the help of teams, raising money towards the medical research, in hope of giving effected children hope of a future or even just a treatment to slow the progression down. More information here.
And progress on a cure, or at least slowing the process down has recently had a breakthrough. INews Science & Environment Correspondent, Tom Bawden reported; “a cure for muscular dystrophy is on the horizon after gene editing experiments in mice completely eradicated the disease. Although far more research is needed to test the technique in humans the researchers are hopeful the process could one day be used in the NHS,” just last week.
Therefore, it’s been long overdue to catch up with the Chillery-Watson family, to congratulate them for the award, find out if the breakthrough treatment applies to Carmela’s rare strain of the disease, but mostly, to get the gossip on the celebrities she’s been meeting, making her something of a celeb now herself!
“I don’t think I ever met a celebrity until Carmela came along,” Lucy replied to my verbal probing about the renowned faces I see her pictured with. I suggested pictures posted on Carmela’s Facebook Page with Harry, she seemed to have her husband Darren pushed aside while displaying a flirty-face in his presence! “I’ve always got a flirty-face on!” she laughed, “we’ve met Harry once before, and he really is a great guy to chat to. He’s been patron of this sick child’s charity since 2007. He’s very passionate about it, I think because he gets it from his mum. Carmela was telling him her rude jokes!” she giggled.
I pointed out that Carmela has got so used to being in the spotlight. “She’s so blasé about it!” Lucy said, “it’s my fault because we wanted to get awareness out there, and it’s helped her confidence. She has gone through stages of low self-esteem, particularly now as she comes to terms with what her limitations are. So doing things like this makes her feel a little bit important. It boosts her self-esteem.”
Amanda Holden was one of Carmela’s chosen celebs to have turned up. “What a great chick she is,” Lucy responded, “so, so, one of us; she doesn’t mince her words, and made us feel at ease.” One I do know, Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood was there, she told me, but another was one my age made me ask my daughter for her identity, revealed to be pop star Anne-Marie, who sang live at the ceremony. Lucy praised her voice, but moved onto Ed Sheeran, claiming he was shy.
“Throughout lockdown,” we moved onto, “she did loads because she had to. With muscular dystrophy you can’t sit down all the time, because you get joint contractions, you get tight muscles and it’s irreversible, you have to keep that balance, and that’s very difficult.”
The gene therapy advances I wanted to mention. “The one we’re hopeful with is LCMD Research Foundation.” A family in the USA with the same condition to Carmela, but more severe. “They found some researchers in Spain willing to take on the gene therapy project specific for Carmela’s type, if they raise two million,” Lucy explained, stating they’ve already raised half in just six months. Lucy was unsure what strain the INews Science & Environment Correspondent reported on was specifically for, “but is also promising news.”
Somewhere in the conversation I doubted she would even remember me, the mere mortal milkman, now she’s rubbing shoulders with all these icons and celebs. But in the perfect finale to our chinwag, Carmela broke her bedtime procedure to disrupt the sombre and mature themes we were discussing, and bounded in to say hello. I confess, this part melted my heart, it’s been so long through lockdown since I’ve seen her, and was delighted to note, she knew me and remembered our shared work-shift almost two years ago.
Cheekily, I asked Carmela if she had a favourite celeb she met, and she confirmed they were Anne-Marie and Amanda Holden; mine too! Amanda in particular, I pointed out, being I had to inquire to who Anne-Marie was, truth be told. Intent on keeping me on my pegging, Carmela asked me, “have you heard Anne-Marie’s voice….” of which I was intending to reply a yes; now I have, when she added, “but, in real life?!” To which I can only confess she had this one over on me!
“Well,” Carmela added, “you could always come to the WellChild as our guest.” Lucy laughed; she’s invited a number of guests already. Well, every celeb needs their entourage.
But I did finish on my surprise she recalled me, being she’d met all these “important people, when all I’ve been doing is putting milk bottles down.” Carmela replied, while dancing, “it’s very important for you to put the milk bottles down.” And it’s responses like that which makes her such a special person, and her zest for life is truly inspiring for all ages; the very motive, I might plug, for me to channel efforts into this compilation album for Julia’s House, who I might add, provide support to Carmela with regular home visits.
Could it be, I wonder this Sunday morning after a grand evening at our dependable Southgate, that being couped up and unable to play to a live audience for what feels like a decade, has planted fire in the bellies of musicians and a drive to return to the spotlight in an explosively intense and mind-blowing manner?
It certainly felt this way with the Boot Hill All Stars giving it their all, last weekend at Honey Street’s Barge, and again, last night where a “Plus Friends,” gig took place at the Gate, in the blaze of glory local folk have come to expect from the homegrown talented musicians involved.
As far from a band name as a desperate attempt to rehash a once-trendy US sitcom, Plus Friends is the banner for a looser formulation, I’m assuming, to temporarily disassociate the trio of Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin from their Lost Trades Americana branding and allow themselves the freedom to adlib and play in unison their separate songs as solo artists, generally rock out, and perhaps throw in a cover at will, as they did with a finale of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere. Though covers were scarce, the crowd know these guys only too well, and their original penned songs.
Plus, and, most importantly where the “plus” part falls neatly into place, to add a fourth member in par rather than “support,” that being the modest acoustic local legend, Vince Bell. Not forgoing this allowance also saw Jamie’s eldest son occasionally join them on percussion, adding to the overall “family” nature of the homecoming gig.
And that’s precisely how it felt for punters and performers alike, a true community recovering from isolation the best way they know how. “This is how it should be,” delighted photographer Nick Padmore told me at the end. Because while the Southgate’s dedication to bringing variety, and artists who might well be unbeknown to Devizes is most welcomed, nothing raises the roof quite like Vince belting out his satirical prose about his hometown and the crowds joyously joining in with the “and you ain’t ever leaving!” chorus.
It hallmarks everything great about this splendid occasion, and a true Devizes-fashioned return of live music with homegrown talent abound.
But it’s not just the brilliance of Vince, Tammy, Jamie and birthday-boy Phil, to perform with bells on, which made the evening, rather the friendly assembly of local live music aficionados too, with their meeting of the “same ol’ faces” not fully grouped since lockdown begun. And, in turn, the Southgate to accommodate them so welcomingly within current regulations.
There’s a streamlined table service, its dedicated staff have the efficiency of McDonald’s, and the genuine friendliness of Disneyland. Though such comparisons should end there, for The Southgate is far from the mechanism of commercialism, rather a rustic haven for those seeking a “real” West Country pub experience, and within it, creating a free music venue that performers are queuing to play.
It’s without doubt the sum of all these parts made it so many chose our Southgate over Gareth’s squad on the tele-box, a brief “footballs coming home” chant raised by Jamie being the only reference to the Euros necessary. No, we’re happy here, thank you. Content to hear the welcoming homely vocals of Tamsin Quin, the passionately executed sentimental writings of Jamie as he rings out solo classics such as his tribute to his dad, the rockier side to Phil Cooper as he selects a tune from his solo lockdown album, These Revelation Games and the beautifully arranged understated lyrics of Vince as they so eloquently weave a tapestry of narrative. And as my opening presumption noted, they delivered it with such Jack-in-the-box passion, what once would have been a pretty standard gig down the Gate was more akin to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Oh yes, more of that, please!
And our wish is granted, as The Southgate’s gig calendar is building as if 2020 never happened; next Saturday, 10th July sees Swindon’s premier ska covers band The Skandals, with ex-Skanxter Carl Humphries returning as frontman. Sunday is the turn of Essex’s finest Americana roots band, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective.
One weekend after is all you need to wait until reggae duo Jon Lewis & Jah-man Aggrey, TwoManTing, on Saturday 17th, Rockport Blues on 24th, and Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning rocks up on the final Saturday of July. The dates are booked into August too, with Kevin Brown on the 7th and the brilliant Strange Folk on the 9th October, but you can bet your bottom dollar dates in-between these will crop up very soon, check the event guide as I attempt to keep ahead and update it without getting too frustrated with cancelations, or the Southgate’s Facebook page, where the spirit of live music lives on, as proved last night.
Ya mon, today, July 1st marks International Reggae Day, so put pan sum a dat irie muzik an git skanking. To help celebrate here’s some interesting facts about Jamacia’s national sound you may/may not have heard before, depending how up pon da scene you is.
1: Bob Marley &The Wailers Were Fired as Support Act for Sly & The Family Stone
Debatably, Bob Marley & The Wailers were booted off the 1973 Sly & The Family Stone US tour for upstaging them. It was early days for the band internationally, and they had fire in their heart and motivation to succeed. Meanwhile, Sly and The Family Stone were at the top of their game, the peak of their career, and it was largely reported the funk misfits were too intoxicated to play well. The Wailers were fired after the first four or five shows with Sly and The Family Stone, leaving much dispute to the reason. Me, I can read between the lines and it’s blatantly obvious why!
2: One of the Most Influential Figures of Reggae, was a Nun
Aside the obvious Bob Marely, one of the single most influential figures in the history of reggae was Sister Mary Ignatius Davies. A Sister of Mercy, Mary Ignatius Davies was an inspirational music teacher at Kingston’s Alpha Boys School. Prominent in the advances of ska and reggae, her music tuition at this “school for wayward boys” influenced many of the pioneers of ska, including Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One legendary inhouse band, The Skatalites, many who would later make up the Wailers backing band for Bob Marley.
3: Desmond Dekker Was Turned Down by Major Recording Producers
One of the greatest figures of reggae has to be Desmond Dekker, famed for the 1969 Pyramid song, The Israelites with his backing band, The Aces. Indeed, Desmond was prominent throughout the ska and rock steady periods too, and it was Dekker who encouraged a young Bob Marley, workmate in a welding factory, to approach Jimmy Cliff, which sparked his success. But if Desmond Dekker is celebrated for his smooth vocals, we should note he failed his own auditions at both the most dominant Jamaican studios, Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One and Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle, in 1961. Resulting in working for the lesser Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s record label later that year.
4: Red, Red Wine Was Written and Originally Performed by Neil Diamond
Think any of any reggae single to be most asked at a standard family disco in the UK, and I’ll guarantee it will be UB40’s 1983 version of Red, Red Wine. A number 1 hit for UB40, it sparked a new path for them in recreating and covering older reggae tunes. But while the song had indeed been a boss reggae hit for Tony Tribe, reaching only 46 on the UK chart in 1969, it was in fact written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967, included on Diamond’s second studio album, Just for You; a fact that even UB40 was unaware of at the time of releasing the song!
5: The Ethos of Hip Hop Came from Reggae
Okay, I might get shot via a drive-by for this one, but it’s an often-obscured fact that the originator of hip hop, the Bronx’s DJ Kool Herc was a Jamaican immigrant to New York, who despite moving with his family at just twelve years old, he grew up around Kingston’s dance hall sound system parties and wanted to bring the ethos to New York. Indeed, he did, as the bloc-party can be easily compared with the Jamaican sound system parties of the fifties and sixties. The only difference was, New Yorkers favoured the currently trending funk music, like James Brown, and Herc was quick to pick up on what the people wanted and adapt to the genre. But still, the ethos is comparable to reggae far more than soul.
6: Aswad are the Backing Band on Bob Marley’s Jamming
There are many facts I could throw at you about Marley’s second stay in England during 1977, while for his protection he was encouraged to flee Jamacia after a shooting incident. Firstly, that Punky Reggae Party was inspired by Don Letts introducing him to the punk movement, especially the Clash, it wasn’t recorded until he returned to Jamaica, at Joe Gibbs studio. The B-side was recorded in London though, with Aswad as backing. And I bet you thought the pinnacle of their career wasn’t until 1988 when they scored a UK number one with “Don’t Turn Around?”
7: Naomi Campbell Appeared in Marely’s Is This Love Video
Another fact about Marley’s stay in England was the music video for 1978’s Is This Love, produced and shot at the Keskidee Arts Centre in London. It’s a wonderful film in which Bob parties with the children of the centre, but watch out for the little girl sleeping, who Marley covers up with a blanket; it’s supermodel Naomi Campbell, at only seven years old!
8: Johnny Rotten Flooded the UK Market with Reggae
Richard Branson too, for he created Virgin’s short-lived reggae subsidy in 1978, Front Line, by sending Johnny Lydon of the Sex Pistols to Jamacia to sign as many artists as he could in reaction of Chris Blackwell’s Island Records success with Bob Marley & The Wailers. Rotten came back with contracts from U-Roy, The Mighty Diamonds, Keith Hudson, Johnny Clarke, Peter Tosh, I Roy, Prince Far I, Big Youth, Prince Hammer, Tappa Zukie, Sly Dunbar, and The Twinkle Brothers, to name but a few.
9: Toots & The Maytals Narrowly Missed Being Bigger Than Bob Marley & The Wailers
At a time when reggae was seen as a “novelty” music outside of Jamacia, resident Chris Blackwell, owner of Island Records wanted to bring a reggae band to the international stage in a similar light to a rock band. For this he toyed between signing either The Maytals or The Wailers. Though he didn’t want to deal with the young, rude boys which were the Wailers, he figured he would take his chances, as Toots & The Maytals sung too gospel for a white audience to accept. Together with the notion Marely was mixed-raced, he signed The Wailers first and advanced them money to make their debut album, Catch a Fire. While he quickly signed the Maytals soon after, he concentrated his efforts mainly on Bob, dividing him from Pete Tosh and Bunny Wailer, and it was in competition with Toots which concerned Marley the most.
10: Mark Lamarr Stopped Shabba Ranks from Becoming Reggae’s Next International Reggae Superstar
By 1992 Dancehall was fast becoming acceptable on an international level, and the king was due to be Shabba Ranks. He had gained popularity partulcarly in the USA, where he secured a contract with Epic Records, and won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. How a shadow was cast during his appearance on Channel 4’s The Word, when Mark Lamarr probed him for his opinion on Buju Banton’s controversial homophobic song Boom Bye Bye, which advocated the shooting of gays.
Live on TV, grasping a bible, Shabba called for the “crucifixion of homosexuals,” claiming it to be the “word of God.” Lamarr retorted, “That’s absolute crap and you know it!” Shabba may have been unaware just how grave his comments were, where in Jamacia such values are lesser thought of at the time, but it had serious consequences for him, and sent dancehall music back a decade in advancing to a popular international music. Immediately Ranks was dropped from a Bobby Brown concert, and despite making a formal apology, Sony released him from his contract three years later.