A Gallery of Rogues: Devizes Musical Theatre is Back!

A Gallery of Rogues, huh? Can’t be, they look okay to me; it’s always the quiet one. I’m just pleased to hear the Devizes Musical Theatre is back and coming to a Market Lavington Community Hall near you!

Presenting a complete performance of “Trial by Jury,” W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan together witha collection of other ditties, performed by members of the cast, and directed by Laura Deacon and Susan Braunton.

On the 21st October 1965, Devizes Musical Theatre (formerly named ‘Devizes Light Operatic Society’)  was born. A society committed to the arts, with an emphasis on fun, team work and a love for all things musical. Since, ‘DMT’ has grown into the talented, passionate and friendly society that it is today.

The society performs two full-scale productions each year with a number of concerts and showcases alongside these. In two sections; youth (‘DMT Footlights’) or adult, aged 8 or 80 they have something for you! On stage, behind the scenes or front of house alike, they are always keen to welcome new people.

Rehearsals began in a back garden and they’re now ready to bring you a large slice of G&S, followed by a pot pourri of songs. A light-hearted evening’s entertainment for all the family, on 11th September. Doors at 7:30pm, £7 payable on the door. Or email chairman@devizesmusicaltheatre.co.uk to reserve your tickets.


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Devizes Street Festival; Black Rat Monday Lives on….

There are two giant kangaroos hopping through Long Street in Devizes, one bantering to a passer-by in a mock-Aussie accent, “no, I’m not into bondage, you can’t tie me down, sport!”

Meanwhile a gypsy woman riding a quad-cycle with a double bass attached follows a dapper man in top hat and tails, playing a piano on wheels, adorned with flowery ornaments and mirrors, past the Nationwide on Maryport Street. This isn’t your archetypal afternoon in town, this is a scattered post-lockdown version of DOCA’s beloved Devizes Street Festival, and while this isn’t going to be quite as simple for me to angle this time around, it is, unarguably, something fantastic.

With the main stage outside the Corn Exchange missing this year, there was no centrepiece binding the annual event together, therefore from the outside looking in, one could perceive it being all rather mishmash. I feel this was intentional, to avoid crowding, and a wise move considering the circumstances. The crucial point is, the magic was still there, for all ages; side stalls, street food, fairground rides, static and wandering circus acts and street theatre all played as colourful and lively part of the street festival as it ever did, it was just dispersed around the town centre.

If the lack of live music was a shame this time around, least it drew attention to side attractions. I’ve a particular penchant for the offbeat street theatre, fondly reminding me of sunny Glastonbury festivals of yore. It is, then, precisely this, and the variety of side attractions, especially catering for children which spells out to me, this is so much more than the perceived monumental piss-up locals dub, “Black Rat Monday,” with its monocultured ethos of cider-swigging debauchery.

However, and this is a big however, if DOCA wishes to cast off this label, that is it’s prerogative to do so, but they should note the nickname is not to be taken seriously, it is all part of a running joke in true west country fashion, an inward banter of ironic overstatement. Folk know it’s more than the sum of downing as much cider as they can, that’s the joke. Backside of the coin, though, a large part of the community does want exactly that. Far from loutish behaviour, the spirit of eat, drink and be merry is imbedded in our history.

But, as of yet, there’s no indication DOCA wish to cast the namesake off, being despite informing The British Lion, after their mainstay position serving the apple poison about-centre for a mere couple of decades, that their presence is no longer required, they themselves sold Black Rat cider solely other than Pimm’s, at their own bar. I sigh at this, considered titling this piece, “a shame,” but supposed later, DOCA’s overheads must be ginormous, laying such a memorable and legendary event on for free, scraping a tad back from sales of said cider plays a small part and the need to do this is understandable.

I’m impartial on this one, not here to cast accusations or play a blame game, taking on board, and agreeing with much of the hearsay and rumours revolving through the natives, though. Local politics isn’t my bag, if there’s monopolising tactics at the root of this, I think that’s unfair and certainly not in the community spirit of the event, at all.

And there it lies, in a word; community. Keep the “international” in the title, by all means, I, and I believe I speak for most of us when I say bringing the worldwide stage to our doorsteps with a plethora of top world music acts is a wonderful idea and we love DOCA for it, but this doubles-up, and always did, as a festival for the community. DOCA abide by this with plentiful locally sourced side attractions, but personally I think we need to honour local talent too.

I’d welcome artistic director Loz to give me a bell come the time for booking acts, and be it from my own personal judgement or a Facebook poll, ask me to name two local acts who deserve to be on the main stage billing. And at least two do, those who’ve excelled through these challenging times and take a little piece of Devizes with them around the country. If it’s a mouthful to call it, “the Devizes International Community Street Festival,” then just “Devizes Street Festival” will suffice.

Of course, DOCA did take heed, and allowed a secondary local music stage in 2019, of which Pete and Jackie of Vinyl Realm completely funded and organised. This was something beautiful, and became a key feature of the street festival that year. But no matter how large this goes, it will always feel like a bolt-on, when what I’d really appreciate is the pick of local talent up on that main stage.

There, said my piece, and don’t wish to end on a sour note, not that it was, just constructive criticism. Children are trampolining in Sidmouth Street, while a couple of, what can only be described as “rock n roll slappers” entice passers-by to peak into their ‘peepshow’ wooden box at the other end. Limbo dancers outside the town hall, with a man rolling around inside an oversized metal hull-a-hoop, and a giant exoskeleton puppet wanders down the Brittox, stopping to sniff the hanging baskets. How can I possibly be critical about any of this? Rising against the challenges, DOCA made an absolutely fantastic show of colour, curiosity and entertainment, amidst vibrant atmosphere, this is a town-wide show unlike any other and should never be taken for granted.

I tip my hat to DOCA as a samba band play by the Market Place cross, but I feel impelled to check out the British Lion, all things considered, and that lengthy beer garden sure is alive with punters, those loyal to the Black Rat. Tom Harris, Pat Ward, Claire et all, play unplugged as a barbeque for Dorothy House sizzles and friends gather to mark their appreciation of “the British.” And that is the true meaning of “community,” it doesn’t need props and extravagant shows, it just takes hospitality and compromise.

That said I’m pleased to see those trampolines, extending the street festival out from the Market Place, as it’s a stone throw from the welcoming pub, and combined it into the event rather than making it feel out on a limb, and for that, for the whole bank holiday weekend, what with Full Tone frenzy too, Devizes is truly great, when it works together. The British Lion is an institution here in the ‘Vizes, the reliably stable free house has stood the test of time with little need to fix its unbroken charm. This is the only regular gig on their calendar which sees them gallivanting from their bar and making an appearance in the Market Place, something which has become equally as traditional as the event itself. It is a shame not to have them present this year. Competition is healthily, remember, a range of breweries can compromise and find a solution, of that, I’m certain, and look forward to the possibility it will be so in future years.


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King of the One-Liners; Gary Delaney Coming to Devizes- Win Two Tickets Here!

What time did the man go to the dentist? Tooth hurt-y…. Okay, I’ll get my coat. Leave it to the professionals, one of whom announced this morning, Devizes is on his hitlist. Husband of comedy supremo Sarah Millican, and king of the one-liners, Gary Delaney delivers his hilarious tour, “Gary in Punderland,” to our honoured … Continue reading “King of the One-Liners; Gary Delaney Coming to Devizes- Win Two Tickets Here!”

Full-Tone Orchestra Give It What’s For!

As the norm now is phones held high above the crowds, as us elders once did with lighters, they capture the moment on film. But I’m neglecting the trend to record wobbly, intoxicated videos, as they never do justice to the sound. There is no local event in which this is truer than yesterday’s Full-Tone Festival, because there’s simply no sound quite as immense and impacting as a full orchestra, despite my juvenile perceptions of it, of which I contemplate exactly how Full-Tone has turned this on its head…

If what Pete Tong did with his Heritage Orchestra was clever, it wasn’t entirely original. As a nipper I’d laugh at my dad, when he’d play his “Hooked on Classics” long player. Snickered because futurism had gone audio in the early eighties, rendering the mere word “orchestra” lame in our adolescent minds.

Though classical purists got their knickers in a twist that ELO arranger Louis Clark was conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra using a LinnDrum drum machine, it reintroduced classical music to a new generation. And when they released “Hooked on Rock Classics,” into the series, dad was well and truly off on one; thank heavens we hadn’t progressed to a cassette deck in the Ford Cortina yet!

But if I laughed at him, misunderstanding the richness of classical music in an era of synth, post-punk electronica, I had a dirty secret of my own. Upstairs us kids had a record deck of our own, on which I would slip on a 1978 Geoff Love album, “Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Other Disco Galactic Themes,” which, as the title suggests, Love’s orchestra breathed disco into John Williams movie scores. I was consciously side-stepping the datum, this was also created by an orchestra, for want of my own Star Wars-fevered fascination with all things sci-fi.

In reminiscing about the album, as I roughly fell out of bed this morning, it progressed to thinking of the obsession the characters had with the shape of Crook County’s Devil’s Tower in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of The Third Kind, enough to sculpt it out mashed potato. For I suspect folk of Devizes will awaken this morning with a similar subconscious obsession for an irregular arch shape, rather like the photo below!

Like the character Roy Neary, have you the discomforting desire to make a return to the site of this strange shape, like an unwarranted pilgrimage?! If so, you were an attendee of The Full-Tone Festival yesterday, and it’s perfectly natural and understanding to have been captivated by its shear magnificence. And in the history of events in Devizes, the magnitude of what The Full-Tone Orchestra achieved yesterday will forever be imprinted.

Yeah, I know, right, it came with a price-tag, one which objectors were not discouraged from doing as they threatened, and pitching chairs on the Little Green opposite to admire the happening from afar. Unfortunately, while you could hear it tingling as far away as Morrisons carpark, if you did this you did not get the full capacity or benefit of said magnificence. The acoustics up close to the funnelled stage was something extraordinary, with superior pyrotechnics the lasers and light show was professional standard and truly, locally unique. This competence alone, fairly showed where your money had been wisely spent.

It was a vast evolutionally step from the free event in the Market Place a couple of years ago. If the all-positive feedback from the crowds wasn’t enough to convince you, the delighted expression of artistic director, Jemma Brown said it all. I caught up with her for a brief word, where we discussed the logistics of the actual orchestra, explaining to me there were some sixty-five musicians onstage at any one time, ninety-five operating over the weekend, some of who played the entire shebang, while others swapped on a rota. A monumental operation, which as a punter appeared to function like clockwork.

I did, back in the spring, not include this event in a piece highlighting local festivals hopefully going ahead, and this bought an objection online which I justified under my definition of the word “festival” being an event with multiple happenings by a variety of artists and performers, ergo making this more concert than festival, and I stick by my justification. Although, while it was one “act” said act was manyfold, bringing in a wealth of musicians, plus side stalls were adequate to warrant this of festival proportions, and today, Sunday, the show will host some other acts, including Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits. So, yeah, all that is debatable, but one thing for sure, whatever you want to pigeonhole this event as, there’s no denying, it was fantastic.

Beginning with classical, they marched through Gershwin, Holst et all with unrivalled passion, and swiftly moved onto iconic movie themes, which despite my aforementioned adoration for eighties sci-fi, I found the Jurassic Park theme the most poignant, its ambience hung in the air as the chitchat and everyday goings-on sustained, like a T-Rex invasion was looming on Devizes Green!

Eighties classic pop arrived around dinnertime, I returned to the scene to shudder at Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, though while this may not be my idea of eighties classic pop, given the diverse age demographic I digest many here didn’t live through it, and such a hit was defensible because of this! But tracks by Bowie, Blondie and Toto were welcomed, particularly Chris Underwood’s vocals on Ultravox’s Vienna.

If the eighties section bought about eagerness of post-lockdown dancers, the crowd flocked to the stage for the finale as dusk set in over a warm evening. Time for our Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra contrast, as the stage blew the sky high and hands were raised for this explosive climax of their hailed dance and club classics. And yes, if you picked me out of the darkness, I was giving it some like I was twenty again, with a bunch of twenty-somethings who were never there to witness the rave revolution first-hand, which was remarkable, if something of a tribulation these, what were considered at the time, throw-away tunes in the natural passage of progression, age has become me and these are now “classics” too!

Ah, well, you can’t stop the hands of time, just enjoy it while it lasts, and you can still get tickets on the door for today’s Fulltone Music Festival, on a first come, first served basis, just head on over to the entrance, by the traffic lights on Nursteed Road.

The Full-Tone orchestra really raised the bar of local events last night, if you missed it, there’s still time to catch up. And, I’d advise, if you did attend yesterday, have baked potatoes rather than mash today!


Please click here and buy our wonderful compilation album of local music, in aid of Julia’s House

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What’s Happening in September?

That’s it, one big blowout of a bank holiday weekend and August is kaput. Nights drawing in, the fall will be here before you can say “was that it, summer?” Given last years blazing heatwave, while we were couped up, this summer’s been comparatively damp, you could’ve have made it up. There were lots of great things to do, and that doesn’t show signs of slowing through next month.

So, check in and scroll down to see what’s happening this bank holiday, where’s there’s more than enough just in Devizes alone to keep us busy. Awesome, firstly, to see Swindon’s indie-pop stars, Talk in Code will join our favourite Daydream Runaways, for the first Friday night of music down at The Southgate. Then the town goes festival crazy, for three solid days! Full-Tone Festival hits the Green, Saturday and Sunday, and Monday you have to get down to the Market Place for our wonderful, Devizes Street Festival and the Colour Rush.

September 2021Once you’ve gotten over that, September then, here’s the highlights:

Running now until the 4th, Four artists exhibit at Trowbridge Town Hall. A selection of 2D and 3D works by local artists Deborah Clement, Sonja Kuratle, Jennie Quigley and Jane Scrivener.

It was in August 1979 that arguably Swindon’s greatest-ever band, XTC, released their first commercially successful album, 42 years on, original drummer Terry Chambers pays tribute as EXTC, at Swindon’s Victoria on Thursday 2nd.

Following night, Friday 3rd, the Pink Floyd-Fleetwood Mac double-tribute act, Pink Mac will stand on the same stage, at the Vic, while The Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club presents an evening with Sloe Train at Owl Lodge in Lacock, and Corsham’s Pound Arts has comedy with the brilliantly titled “Rescheduled Rescheduled Rescheduled Time Show Tour 2021” by Rob Auton.

Burbage celebrates their the 24th Beer, Cider and Music Festival, with Humdinger and Kova me Badd.

Saturday 4th and there’s a Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long with the Twilight Cinema at Hillworth Park, yet it will be loud down Devizes Southgate, with a welcome return of NervEndings, Fangs & The Tyrants sound equally as loud, they’re at Swindon’s Vic. For a more chilled evening, Cara Dillon plays the Neeld. An extraordinary, captivating Irish singer Mojo magazine claims to be “quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice.”

It is also good to see the Melksham Assembly Hall back in the biz, they have Travelling Wilbury tribute, The Unravelling Wilburys! And there’s a unique blend of melodic folk-pop blowing out from Trowbridge Town Hall as Bristol band Sugarmoon come to town.

One to overshadow the lot, is The Concert at the Kings at All Cannings, happening over the weekend. Great line-up for Rock against Cancer, as ever, with Billy Ocean headlining Saturday and 10CC on Sunday, albeit they seem completely unresponsive to messages from us. While I accept the strength of booked acts alone means they need no local press presence, it’s a shame they won’t care to respond; it would be great to cover this.

Ah well, Sunday rocks anyway, with an incredible booking by The Southgate, mind-blowingly awesome US blues outfit of Well-Hung Heart, with a local twist, Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse play. Not to be missed. Westwards, Schtumm presents Will Lawton & The Alchemists with support by Hazir at the Queens Head, Box, and north, Syteria play the Vic, with Adam & The Hellcats and Awakening Savannah.

Oh, and The Lions Clubs of Trowbridge & Westbury have their White Horse Classic & Vintage Vehicle Show on Sunday 5th too!

Second weekend of September and things just get better, from Thursday to Sunday, the place to be is Swindon. The free roaming festival is back, with a line-up across too many venues to list, see the poster. The Swindon Shuffle is truly a testament to local music, everyone who is anyone will be there, in the words of Zaphod Beeblebrox.

It’s time for Jesus Christ Superstar to magically appear in Devizes, as the Wharf Theatre showcases the retro musical, opening Friday 10th, running until 18th.

A hidden gem in the heart of the Wylye valley, the Vintage Nostalgia Festival begins too, running until Sunday at Stockton Park, near Warminster. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, Great Scott, Shana Mai and the Mayhems all headline, with those crazy The Ukey D’ukes and our favourites The Roughcut Rebels also play. Lucky if you’re off to the Tangled Roots Festival in Radstock, all sold out.

Closer to home though, Saturday 11th sees the Stert Country House Car Boot Sale, for Cancer Research, the Corsham Street Fair, Women in Rock at the Neeld and The Rock Orchestra by Candlelight at Swindon’s MECA. Eddie Martin’s solo album launch, Birdcage Sessions, at the Southgate, Devizes and the awesome Will Lawton and the Alchemists are at Trowbridge Town Hall. Two Tone All Ska’s play Chippenham’s Consti Club.

Staying in Trowbridge, Rockhoppaz at the Park for an Alzheimer’s Support Gig on Sunday 12th. Meanwhile it’s Hillworth Proms in the Park with Devizes Town Band, and the incredible homegrown guitar virtuoso, Innes Sibun is at The Southgate.  

Third weeks into September, find some jazz with Emma Harris & Graham Dent Duo at Il Ponte Ristorante Italiano, in Bradford-on-Avon. By Thursday 16th, The Derellas play the Vic, and a welcomed reopening of the the Seend Community Centre sees our good friends Celtic Roots Collective play on Friday 17th.

Also Friday, in Swindon, Road Trip play The Vic, and Hawkwind, yes, Hawkwind at MECA!

It’s Dauntsey Academy Scarecrow Trail and there’s a Happy Circus in aid of Nursteed School in Devizes on Saturday 18th, and the welcomed return of Devizes Long Street Blues Club, with the Billy Walton Band. People Like Us are playing The Churchill Arms in West Lavington, ELO Beatles Beyond at Melksham Assembly Hall, and the amazing Onika Venus is at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Sunday 19th sees the Rock The Rec for Macmillan Cancer Support, free fundraiser at Calne Recreation Club.

On Thursday 23rd Antoine & Owena support the The Lost Trades at Komedia, Bath, Steve Knightley plays the Neeld, and there’s ‘An autobiographical journey of a deaf person trapped in a hearing world’ calledLouder Is Not Always Clearer at Pound Arts.

Tom Odell is at Marlborough College Memorial Hall on Friday 24th, and Fossil Fools play the Vic in Swindon.

Sat 25th sees the opening of the Devizes Food & Drink Festival, with the market. A Full Preview of everything happening at HERE. The HooDoos do The Southgate.

Meanwhile, Melksham Rock n Roll Club presents Johnnie Fox & The Hunters, Juice Menace play Trowbridge Town Hall. Wildwood Kin at Christ Church, Old Town, Swindon, and, this will go off; Talk in Code, The Dirty Smooth & The Vooz at the Vic, while tributes to Katy Perry vs Taylor Swift @ MECA.

Award for the most interesting thing to do this Saturday goes to Pound Arts. Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats is a production which contains distressing themes, images covering topics including migration and political assassination, plus a dog onstage; make of that what you will!

By the end of the month things look a little sportier, with bookworms, Sunday 26th is The Hullavington Full Marathon & 10K, travel author and TV presenter Simon Reeve talks at Dauntseys on Wednesday 29th, Thursday sees the opening of Marlborough Literature Festival.

But this list is by no means exhaustive, stuff to do is coming in all the time, making it near impossible to keep up, you need to regularly check our event calendar. Help me to help you by letting me know of your events, and if you’ve the time, write us a preview or review, I can’t be everywhere at once, and sometimes get so overloaded I just want to slouch on the sofa watching Netflix!

Have a good September!


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Disenchanted Webb

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

Top of the Ops; White Horse Opera are Thrilled to be Back

White Horse Opera are thrilled to be back rehearsing for their forthcoming concert. They will be singing in a wonderful Gala Concert Devizes Town Hall on Friday 29th & Saturday 30th October at 7.30pm

A blend of Operatic Favourites and well known Songs from the Shows with Guest Tenor Carlos Alonso to thrill you with his amazing arias.

Tickets only £10 from Devizes Books 01380-725944 or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/whitehorseopera

Marlborough’s Festival Gem; Manton-Fest

Reading Wiltshire Live’s article this morning, in which attendees were evacuated at Swindon festival Live at Lydiard Park yesterday due to looming thunderstorms, somewhat reflected my own weekend. Music Director Stuart Whant of Mantonfest near Marlborough looked solemnly at me and said if we had thunderstorms, he’d have to pull it. I tried to deflect it with flippancy, doubting it would come to that, but his expression told the story of how passionate and dedicated he is about Mantonfest.

Fortunately, despite one passing downpour, bad weather held off for the tenth anniversary of this magical and beloved little one-day festival. If Barrelhouse, the band Stuart plays bass for, performed the most excellent cover of Muddy Water’s “Got my Mojo Working,” wasn’t the only muddy element to this event, it certainly wasn’t going to upset the mood of the crowd.

Here, the port-a-loos are sectioned off according to gender, I duly noted; definitely a very Marlborough occasion! And for the locals Mantonfest has become a cherished institution. With Stuart organising, means Barrelhouse are firm fixture, as the crowd’s explosion of delight when they came on revealed, if the amount of folk attired in the band’s T-shirt didn’t.

I saw, and heard their reasoning, Barrelhouse seriously have their mojo working. Vintage blues with a hard edge groove their strapline, and apt. The cover of Hoochie Coochie Man sealed the deal for authenticity, but more captivating was the way they sublimely adjusted The Ace of Spades to said strapline, breathing a delta style into the metal anthem. Frontman Martin Hands is one cool dude in shades, playing no instrument he sullenly strides around the stage like a young Jim Morrison, and he has the rich, gritty voice which allures like him too.

For want of a plug, Barrelhouse’s signature tune and title track of their latest album, Mainline Voodoo appears on our Julia’s House compilation album, and the instant magnetism of its riff is the central reason why I’m here; they did not disappoint, rather kick over the pedestal the tune caused me to put them on, and replaced it with a much higher, more expensive one! A Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and Honky Tonk Woman finale sealed the deal.

This band, domestic and obviously essential to the festival, were far from the only thing to impress. Due to congestion Marlborough is currently experiencing due to roadworks, they swapped places with Richard Davies & The Dissidents, who as a band made their debut appearance at Mantonfest, with very proficient free-flowing feelgood rock n roll.

The causal, untamed beatnik frontman though has previously performed here in different bands. As a persona he very much reflects a mellowed Jagger-Petty mesh, and has the skill to support the accolade. Backed by a professional bunch, their wavey folk-blues is perfection, told in our review of their debut album, Human Traffic. You’re washed over with the sensation you’ve somehow known these original songs all your life, they’d blend so wonderfully into a collection of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, yet with a subtle hint of English punk, and amusing stage presence, they’re clearly one to watch.

No expense had been spared to make the stage centrepiece, with great acoustics whatever angle you’re situated, as the semi-circle shaped festival, overlooked by the beautiful surroundings of Treacle Brolly embraced it. Top-notch pyrotechnics breathed professionalism into the show as dusk became it, set for Dr Feelgood. A band formed in 1971 which never waned the passing of their frontman, Lee Brilleaux and various member changes, is one I confess my knowledge to not be up to much more than their name, therefore through their qualified skill at projecting some raw-edged blues with expertise ease and passion knocked me for six, particularly, a memorable guitar solo. Even if the encore felt forced when the frontman called it, Milk & Alcohol caused me to realise I knew more about Dr Feelgood than I gave credit for!

Another surprising revelation is the age demographic here, first impressions was an expected older crowd, with their umbrellas and collapsible chairs, but as I enjoyed a rather tasty Sumblers hotdog at the bar, I observed calculating an average age group was near impossible. To nit-pick being kid friendly, could’ve warranted some activities for them, but they seemed as content dancing as the teenagers and twentysomethings who rolled in to enjoy the show; some, I might add, better prepared for inclement weather than I!

But side provisions were adequate for a festival of this size, the upper-end of the food options being a pricey but worthy selection by Green Farm, based in Urchfont. The bar, provided by Ramsbury Brewery was of fair price, and the staff were extremely friendly. And this goes for as a summary of the festival, it was exceptionally localised and welcoming, the organisation of which was untroubled and willing to help with any inquiry.

Working in the morning made me fashionably late, as ever, sorry for missing local band Catfish the most, and only catching the end of The Ex-Men. First act for me to witness was impressive enough. Easy-listening folk Americana filled the bowl from a proficient Joe Martin and backing band. With a golden, rich voice soaring above his age, his originals were astutely written, one called Heartbreak Cult doubly-so, and covers of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain especially wonderful.

I was tipped off to the excellence of this regular event by Devizes’ local music enthusiast and photographer, Nick Padmore some time ago, and on his recommendation made a bee-line for it; it did not fail to live up to it. Yet I didn’t bump into anyone I know from our area, causing me to ponder my notion of a superficially psychological wall on those downs.

Honestly, decades ago when I announced I was moving from Marlborough to Devizes it was met with a horrified reaction, as if I’d suggested moving to Tijuana, or some other murder capital of the world, and equally Devizions perceive to Marlborough to be as affluently cliquey as the Bullingdon Club of 1870, when neither stereotype is true; only a lack of a direct bus route separates them. Yet if such a barrier does exist, it means there’s another circuit of local talent worth exploring, operating literally a twenty-minute drive away. Mantonfest’s dedication to local music proves this, but it’s prone to bringing in some big guns to top it off, too.

The icing on this case, if the mind-blowing Dr Feelgood wasn’t enough, was a welcomed Blondie tribute act as finale. Scotland-based Dirty Harry is the crème de la crème of tribute acts, genuinely and professionally mirroring the magic of Blondie in their prime. The lights shone over the returning drizzle as Mantonfest 2021 came to an enchanted end, tambourine-butt-tapping Dirt Harry, found time to banter with the crowd, young and old, bash out every known Blondie classic, some rarities and even The Ramones The Blitzkrieg Bop unto an appreciative bopping crowd.

Union City Blue, Heart of Glass, Denis and Call Me showcased the culmination of what was a wonderful return for live music in the area, and an area which should take heed, like other towns county-wide; ignore the relation to Devizes in the name Devizine, that’s just our base, we welcome news, events and stories from further afield, including you! And if Mantonfest is anything to go by, I’m taking this show on the road! meanwhile, you should bookmark Mantonfest 2022….


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T F I Thaiday Friday

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 … Continue reading “T F I Thaiday Friday”

Stonehenge Saved!

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 … Continue reading “Stonehenge Saved!”

For Dave Young; Swindon’s Old Town Bowl Rocks for Charity This August with New Festival

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 … Continue reading “For Dave Young; Swindon’s Old Town Bowl Rocks for Charity This August with New Festival”

The Adventures of Police Crime Commissioner Wilko

This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents in this book are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


The Case of the Missing £1.5 Million. Chapter 1.

Stealthily, he crouched down to Sam’s eyelevel, fingered a small pot of black boot polish and smeared the contents unwillingly over Sam’s face. “Numpty night ops, I need you in full kit, infra-red goggles, the works,” he ordered. “This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill.”

In his hard-back chair, Sam reeled back from the new leader, not knowing he was going to be this hands-on. He fearfully mumbled something about pen-pushing, but his trembling made it inaudible to the remaining members of the team.

Wilko stood back up, reached for his war-stick, swung it wildly above the heads of the troops and shaved the last few strands of hair from the top of Davies’ balding crown. While Davies locked in shock, Wilko bought the baton down firmly on the table-map of Miltshire, precisely landing it close to the village of Potshot.

With swift and certain drive, he manoeuvred ten plastic M4 Sherman tanks across the map to face the centre of the village. “Battalion five CPA, stand by at the pond, 51.3492° N, 1.9927° W is that clear?” he commanded, any question was interrogation, rhetorical anyway, fail to comprehend it and you will be called a numpty, or better still, shot.

“Ground troops will move in at 06:02, synchronise watches, and back up with battalion six,” he continued, “any of you bender boys cut the shit and bail, I will personally slice you a new arsehole, is that clear?!”

All in attendance remained hushed, just nodding with dread.

“Now, Combat Search and Rescue squadrons, Apache, Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk, I need you guys held back by the A362, MRI the surface, carpet bomb, shoot to kill any survivors, joggers and dog walkers; they might be in on it.”  

Police chief Andrews sighed, “we’ve only got the one Bell 429 GlobalRanger, and that’s kind of broken at the moment, thanks to Martin for jumping on the skids.”

Sitting in the back, colouring in a Jimbo and the Jetset colouring-in book, Martin giggled, “was funny though….”

“I was just going to send in Sandra,” Andrews explained.

“Sandra? Really?” Wilko looked sternly at him, “a woman? Have you lost your balls as well as your mind, Andrews? State your number!”

“Sir!” Sandra protested.

Wilko pointed at her, “isn’t there some mugs and doughnut plates need washing up in the staff kitchen?!”

“With all due respect, sir,” Andrews retorted, as Sandra threw her jacket on the floor and left, mumbling some rather strong words about how she felt about the new PCC, and about quitting too. “It is only a teenager who nicked a pork pie from the village community shop!” he added.

“Crime is a disease, chief numpty,” Wilko responded in anger, “I am Miltshire’s cure! First a pork pie, next a full pack of six pasties, then who knows what, the scum will suicide-bomb the Ginsters’ factory. Evidently, you have underestimated the gravity of this crime, as the numpty you quite clearly are. The village of Potshot, chief numpty, what does this suggest to you?”

“A, erm….” Andrews started.

“An open invitation for junkie scum to congregate,” Wilko rudely interrupted, “that’s what! This stoned-out dissident has quite obviously been radicalised by far-leftie woke parish councillors, thinks he can satisfy his munchie cravings by outright robbery, and I will not stand idly by while he terrorises good conservative villagers with inexcusable pie theft!”

The police force sat silently, with either expressions of confusion, shock or plain astonishment.

“Theft of savoury snacks is equally as significant as smoking crack!” Wilko added.

“Tee-hee,” Martin giggled, “you said crack!”

Wilko drew his pistol and open fired, placing a bullet in Martin’s temple, his head collapsing onto the desk in a pool of blood.

“Well, done,” Andrews said, “he was getting the next round in tonight down the Dog N Duck.”

Wilko shifted over to Andrews’ back, placing his hands gently but threateningly around his neck, “Helmand province, October 18th, 2001; one private, the joker of the pack, told a joke about a man going to the doctors with a bright orange cock, the punchline, something about watching porn and eating Wotzits, caused a recalcitrant uproar within the troop. While they laughed, rebels snuck in, killing two of my best men, chief numpty. With a gunshot to my left leg, I carried their mutilated bodies over my shoulders, across the barren plains of Karabakshi to Turkmenbashi, took control of a Turkish civilian vessel by force, charted passage back to the UK, where I marched nonstop to their respective hometowns of Hull and Newcastle to deliver their remains to their families. As I watched their children break down and cry, deciding it was in their best interest, given their grief, to shoot them and put them out of their misery. So, you see, I will not stand for jokers in my battalion, numpty, they are a liability!”

“I erm,” Andrew was lost for words, “I don’t think that sort of thing will happen here, though, just, like, you know, saying?”

“Are you disrespecting the service of these men, chief?” Wilko angered.

“No,” he answered nervously, “merely saying, it’s just a kid, pinched a porkpie, is all. We need to think intuitively, about the negligeable……”

Receptionist Becky called from the hallway and broke the awkwardness of the moment, “Police Commissioner, I’ve a James Seedless on line one for you, sir! He says there’s been a murder in Broomhamton!”

Wiko frowned, “perhaps you think I’m being unfair, chief numpty? I will not have a man down on my watch, take the thief out by use of extreme force, if necessary or not, it’s the way things will be around here, and if you’re too woke chickenshit, I suggest you join the girl guides instead.”

Sincerely sounding, yet in a mocking way, he bowed down to Andrew’s level, “Once the mission is complete, and the target is eliminated, you will find I am not such a bad person after all, numpty. We shall drink to our new union triumphant, and I will personally pay for some oriental whores, for all of my battalion, from any brothel in Miltshire, your choice.” Producing a digestive biscuit from his top pocket he smiled, “now, the last one to cover this digestive in their own spunk gets to buy the first round, I need to take this call…”

About foot, he marched ardently from the room, smashing Davies on his now completely bald head and pointing at the lifeless body of Martin. “You, numpty, clear up that mess you made!”

To be continued……..


Is Devizes Ready for The Full-Tone Festival?!

Amidst the controversial decision by Emily Eavis to headline Jay-Z at Glastonbury Festival in 2008, in which included Noel Gallagher throwing his toys from his pram, while UK press went on a bender about an imagined ethos of exactly what Glasto is, and what it should be presenting, I read an American article hitting back with the headline “is Glastonbury big enough for Jay Z?”

One has to ponder if the author who penned such piffle in retaliation had ever seen Glastonbury, let alone been, and had any inkling what it means to so many people. On this basis I thought of, but then rejected, this headline to be “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra?!”

Organiser and better half of the composer, Jemma Brown tells me the capacity of the Green is 3,000 but next weekend’s (28th-29th August) event is restricted to half, “so everyone feels safe.” But, it’s not a question of “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra,” rather our fortunate premise, the Full-Tone Orchestra is now a part of Devizes, no less than the brewery or canal. They’ve ventured to other local towns, Marlborough College, Swindon’s Wyvern, to present their eclectic genre orchestra, but Devizes is home sweet home, and 95% of shows have been based here.

Here’s the biting point, and something I’ve come to understand better, staging such an event like this is not pocket money. Yes, Full-Tone successfully crowdfunded to put on a free show in the Market Place in 2019, but this is not an avenue any event organiser can slog and expect to come up trumps each time.

For an entertainment package as stupendous as Full-Tone to be in our humble dwelling, it needs and deserves our support, and while a majority will tell you so on the street, ears to the ground unearth some rather inexcusable and inappropriate notions. Firstly, you cannot expect anyone to provide you a free show annually, just because they did once before, and secondly, it’s an “erm,” to the idea Full-Tone is some kind of commercial enterprise gaining only to profit. “It’s just not why we’re doing it,” Jemma pledges, “we’re doing it to bring an orchestra into the centre of Devizes and for the love of all things music!”

At this conjunction, just one weekend away from the show, you have to ask yourself, would the same level of display as 2019’s Market Place not become tiresomely samey after a while? Full-Tone wish to expand on the experience, to progress and make it better. “The sound and lighting will be fabulous and to do that we have to pay good dollar!” Jemma tells me, and to do such, ticket sales is the only option.

Phew, glad I got that off my chest! Can we all be friends again? Anyone putting on any event right now needs our backing and deserves a medal, in my honest opinion. Anyone organising an event must worry it’s either going to go two ways, overloaded with a cabin-fevered raging mob or fail to impress enough to drag apprehensive troops out from their lockdown shelters, as if the hospitality industry isn’t it in enough deep water. My chat with Jemma today went onto me mentioning a time I was juggling the attention of three gigs in Devizes in one night; a time we took live music for granted, and looking back now, well, you go figure.

Least we can be sure, unlike Emily Eavis and her longing to update her father’s institution, Noel Gallagher won’t be on a wobbler because an upcoming US hip hop star is upstaging him! 28th-29th August sees the sixty-piece Full-Tone Orchestra present a very local affair, not only their all-encompassing themes, from big band and film scores to euphoric dance anthems, but Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits on Sunday.

It’s been some years since I sat in Rowde School after school hours. No, not like a kid in detention, rather to see the orchestra rehearsing the Star Wars theme. I believe Jemma was encouraging me to direct my satirical rant column from Index;Wiltshire, No Surprises Living in Devizes to more positive pastures, which kind of went totally against the concept of the column. But it was running fast out of ammo, because, underneath it all, Devizes is a great town and I love living here.

Hence, Devizine was born, a sort of counter-strike against all the negativity I once brushed Devizes with. So, if you want to blame someone, Jemma is also an accessory! The icing on that cake will be a Devizes rendezvous on the Green; hope to see you there!

Tickets Here.


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No Bad Press for Captain Accident & The Disasters

Top marks and a gold star for this album, released tomorrow, Friday 20th August; Bad Press, of which you’ll hear no such thing as bad press from me, and I’d be interested in how anyone could find an angle to do such. Yet if the title is subtle irony, more so is the band name, Captain Accident & The Disasters.

From the band name alone it’s understandable for one to perceive their output as comical or zany, but far from it. Here is some sublime, concentrated reggae and rock steady, bouncy and carefree, yes, but astutely written, covering some acute themes as well as the general tenet of rock steady; forlorn or unabridged romance. Neither am I willing to accept the talent here is any way an accident, and the band is anything but a disaster!

Twenty seconds into Bad Press is all you need to realise why David Rodigan speaks so highly of Cardiff’s Captain Accident & The Disasters, and they were invited back to tour with legends Toots & the Maytals after their 2016 UK tour, as the official full-tour support in 2017 and again in 2018. Which they did, and Captain Accident was asked to join the band onstage to perform Monkey Man on guitar. If it wasn’t for lockdown and the tragic passing of Toots Hibbert last year, they would have been on the European tour that year also.

Other than the wonderful sunshine reggae vibe, there’s not a great deal else going on in Bad Press, yet there’s no need to be. The band stick to the tried and tested formula, the mellow plod of traditional one-drop reggae, occasionally more steppers upbeat with only subtle ska or dub elements coming through. Note importantly, they do this with bells on. It doesn’t attempt to swerve off with experimentation. All tracks flow with precision and a highly polished sound produced with traditional instruments. At no time will Bad Press replicate a previous tune through dubplate principles, neither will a dancehall DJ toast over it, or a drum n bass riff be thrust unexpectedly at you; good, honest and exceptionally beautiful roots, rock reggae is what you get.

If themes reflect lovers rock or rock steady on occasion, it’s nicely done, and in others, where more sombre subject matter arises there’s no militancy, rather the longstanding carefree reggae ethos of not worrying, dancing reservations away, as every little thing will be alright. Neither does Rasta etiquettes or such biblical or cultural references come into play, making this reggae for the masses as well as aficionados. It’s just, ah, tingly, and apt for all!

Despite the band’s output, three previous albums being self-produced, their beguiling festival friendly sound has rocketed their success with a national fan-base growing by the day. I fully believe Bad Press will seal the deal.

Ten songs strong, I couldn’t pick a favourite. As I believe I said, it flows, blessing your ears with inspirational sound. In Redemption Song familiarities the content of the opening tune casts an eye on Armageddon, but pessimism doesn’t deject or depress you, and the title, “Not the End of the World,” says it all. The aforementioned carefree attitude carries over with the catchy “Best Shoes,” the upbeat melody cutting to plod as Captain Accident aptly quotes Marley, “when the music hits you, you feel no pain.”

And such is unswaying general premise throughout, returning to one-drop for the beautiful “Playing Field,” which truly showcases the writing skill on righteousness and equality. Swapping back to the common hopeless romantic theme, “Wings,” will melt you, like the referenced wings of Icarus. Followed by the most ska-ish, the buoyant “Miami Incorporating.”

There is nothing here to rightfully label this with bad press, perhaps the blithest tune being the “Dark n Stormy,” with a rum subject, there’s a real Caribbean feel, yet the most interestingly intertwined is the rock-inspired guitar previous song, “Puttin’ Up a Fight,” because it clarifies this “reggae for all,” notion I’ve attempted to convey. I hope this comes across, especially in these local parts where the genre is often misunderstood and misrepresented. If your knowledge of reggae doesn’t extend much past Bob Marley & The Wailers in their international prime, you will love this. Yet, for bods like me, a humongous enthusiast, it fills me with a glorious passion that the traditional aspects of reggae will never be lost in a sea of dancehall, reggaeton and dubstep.

Ah, they’re all worthy, to me, but aside, reggae got soul, and you NEED this album in your life!


Trending…..

Gull Able

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

The Hawks: Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, as You’ve Never Heard Him Before….

Never did understand his 1985 hit Kiss Me, when it went “kiss me with your mouth,” because, figures; there’s no other cavity more apt or commonly used for kissing. Of course, being twelve when it charted, as much titillation as the magic upturned calculator number 5318008, was to be had replacing the word “mouth” with other anatomical parts.

Bit sad, in reflection, but think Stephen “Tintin” Duffy and you’ll be excused for thinking of jazz nouveaux fused art pop, the wick of commercialised electronica, of love better than wine, but as I recently discovered, that is far from the icing on the cake…(see what I did there?)

Just as homeowners strip back kitsch lacquered chipboard to discover an art deco fireplace hidden by seventies post-modernists, Seventeen Records have unearthed archived demos from Birmingham’s seventies post-punk wannabes, Obviously Five Believers, later changed to Subterranean Hawks and regretfully shortened to The Hawks. And it’s Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, as you’ve never heard before.

Often veiled fact is Duffy had been a founder of Duran Duran, just one school band of Birmingham Polytechnic, but when he left education, he also jumped ship in ’79, a year before they were signed by EMI. Through the maze of side projects and band amalgamating, the Obviously Five Believers formed from an original Duran Duran line-up, Duffy and Simon Colley, and another Stooges-inspired garage punk collective, TV Eye, Daves Twist, Kusworth and Paul Adams. “If we’d stuck to Obviously Five Believers, we may have stood a chance,” says Duffy, “it’s how I still think of us. I think we only changed it because Bob Lamb couldn’t fit the name on the cassette boxes.”

As was the rapidly changing scene, the band were short-lived, lasting from ’79 until Christmas ’81, despite being adored by those who managed to see them. With one highly collectable single, ‘Words of Hope’ released, the hope lessened. “When we didn’t get signed by Rough Trade,” Duffy recalls, “we didn’t really have any other ideas… or a Svengali.”

Proto slackers in a city that never developed the support networks, the label entrepreneurs, of a Glasgow, Liverpool or Sheffield, The Hawks undoubtedly had most of the signifiers already in place for the ‘Scene In Between’ that would emerge just a few years later.

Forward wind to 2019, Duffy and Kusworth were reunited, agreeing to release a retrospective album from Duffy’s cassette archive. Sadly, David Kusworth passed away later that year, so, as good as his word, and with the assistance of Grammy-winning engineer John Paterno, Duffy has set the tracks free, in honour of his friend. Obviously 5 Believers is released on Friday 27th August 2021.

“We didn’t make demo’s, blue prints for future single or albums, we played live and I sang over the top, just to see what we sounded like,” Stephen reminisces. “These are like field recordings from a much simpler time. Simple in that we had no lust for fame and fortune, we had no manifestos beyond our fringes. We wanted to sign to a small label and play some shows but somehow we couldn’t fulfil even those modest ambitions.”

For those content to accept eighties pop, to dress in cliché leg warmers, diddy-boppers and dance around their handbags, this is not for you. Those intrigued as to how and why the sound was watered and marketed, and to rediscover its roots as post punk garage bands, this is a must-have. For while the melancholic track ‘Aztec Moon,’ hints to recognisable Stephen “Tintin” Duffy, it’s not    absolute, rather ploddingly psychedelic rock, and it’s away from the norm of tracks on show here.    If ‘Big Store’ reflects rather what you’d expect from a Talking Heads and Smiths fusion, ‘Bullfighter’ defines new wave in a method not unlike the Jam and other mod revival bands of the era.

All the Sad Young Men alsoreminded me of that mode, yet, in composition and theme, you could pick out and predecessor of synth-pop, of inspiration for Visage and, dare I suggest it, The Pet Shop Boys. Yet, though this stimulating and provocative recording is as one might expect, raw and rudimentary, the route to the archetypal polished electronica can barely be heard. Likewise, the album caused me to seek out some demos from the original Duran Duran line-up on YouTube and it’s captivating to the unaccustomed ear to hear just how underdone it was in comparison with later chart hits. And in so much, how the music industry moulded these acts to suit the technological changes.

I ponder time and time again, how ardent cohorts of post-punk could be sucked into tacky eighties hit factories, such as all-girl trio Bananarama, who found fame collaborating with Fun Boy Three, and rather than stick with Terry Hall, by 1986 thought signing to Stock Aitken Waterman was a good idea, it was, but only for their bank accounts. Que Sera, Sera, perhaps you had to be there at the time, but fair to suggest, it was always about a wage. Though Duffy himself succumbed to the pop machine, he moved progressively, was cutting-edge in recording early chill-out house with Roger Freeman of Pigbag in a project called Dr. Calculus Mdma.

All in all, what you have here is a hidden piece of music history, and through its retrospection, it is an interesting, beguiling and enjoyable unearthed archive… of which, obviously I’m far to young to recall any of it… (not sure why I needed to add that bit!)


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Best of Luck to The Real Cheesemakers, Selected for National Musical Comedy Awards

Wishing the best of luck to Wiltshire’s homegrown musical comedians, the nonsensical Real Cheesemakers, who have been selected for the 2021 national Musical Comedy Awards.

Far from matured, the crazy Calne four-piece released their “Grated Hits,” last year, which we fondly reviewed in February 2020.  

They will play at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London, on 25th September, competing with nine other acts vying for a place in the final at the Bloomsbury Theatre in October. Let’s they hope those city dwellers appreciate our West Country humour, and get the jokes about Cheddar Gorge and the roundabouts of Swindon!

“It was serendipitous to learn that an event exists that not only encourages, but rewards the type of nonsense that we have been creating for so very long,” say the Cheesemakers. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to now showcase it to more people.”

The Musical Comedy Awards (MCAs) is an annual competition to support, promote and celebrate the best emerging musical comedians in the UK. Now in its eighth year, the MCAs have grown in stature to become an annual fixture in the comedy calendar.

MCAs has provided a launch pad to superstar acts like Frisky & Manish, Abandoman and Jay Foreman and created a thriving independent platform to celebrate the art-form that is musical comedy.

You cannot vote online for this, band member Greg Stoner told me it’s all based on judges and audience reaction, but we’re rooting for you all the same here on Devizine, guys!

Tickets available here. Meanwhile, in the land of the Bumbley Boo, or Swindon to its citizens, you might be lucky to find The Real Cheesemakers at the Swindon Shuffle, Friday 10th September at the Castle, with Richard Davies & The Dissidents headlining that venue, with Room 101, Pretty Vacant and Port in a Storm.


Tories Step Up Online Hate Campaign Against Wiltshire PCC Independent Candidate

With just a couple of days until the second Wiltshire PCC election, the first defunct by the Conservatives, local Tory supporters are rallying, keen to criticise and form an online hate campaign against the independent candidate, Mike Rees.

Should we flip this into a positive, clearly, it’s troubling them?!

After Conservatives corrupted the process of the original election by pitching candidate Johnathan Seed for the post, and cost Wiltshire taxpayers £1.4 million for a re-election, when it was discovered, on top of his suspicious activities as hunts master, drink driving convictions disallowed him from standing, it’s little wonder those able to think outside the box might be frustrated by the extravagant and costly campaign for the new conservative candidate Phillip Wilkinson. Especially being he’s tipped to win, based on Wiltshire’s silent majority historically being so blinded by Tory propaganda.

Phillip himself has rightfully been on the sharp end of some challenging questions on his own Facebook page, and has decided the hostile approach is the most suitable. Rudely responding to anyone with a genuine question he might not like the angle of, he’s also bashfully bantered about shooting people, wonkily suggested his military experience is favourable over the experience of policing, in a policing role and anyone dare criticise has been banned from his page. I’m willing to accept this is an oversight on his part, and etiquette on social media is not his field of expertise, still it projects the image of a punitive and unfairly harsh police crime commissioner.

I’m of the opinion here, and don’t let me sway yours, but cannot help but feel the only vision whereby military experience is superior over policing experience for a policing role, is that of Priti Patel’s, where clearly a Gestapo militia is needed to combat a naturally occurring rebellion from an oppressive regime; are we expecting or encouraging, even, a civil war, or are we just after someone to solve common crimes in our county?

In any other circumstance, say a sleeping Shire where crime is comparatively tame, an outstanding retired policeman might be more appropriate for the role, simply down to his on-hand experience. Promote from within though seems to be an outmoded concept, favoured by delusions of grandeur that every politician is super heroic. Evidently proved wrong by the colossal chain to scandals and corruptions of recent; nothing funny to say about it unfortunately, you can’t write comedy like it.  

Lie: He is associated with the Conservative Party, says so on his campaign leaflet!

There is nothing within these public inquiries on his Facebook page to suggest any allegiance to any other candidate, but while other candidates are available, Mike seems to be tenaciously linked. Fact of the matter, I’ve scanned Phillip’s page and find no interaction, be it positive or negative on his page from Mike himself or anyone else involved in his campaign, rather the Lib Dem candidate Brian Mathews, who has rightfully dared challenge Phillip on some of his pledges. Although Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster drew a second-place last time around, the focus seems to entirely rest on Mike.

Tory Devizes Town Councillor Iain Wallis on “the Devizes Issues.”

Spilling outwards from his own page, it’s clear the objective is to slate the independent candidate. While Tory Devizes Town Councillor and admin of the second most popular Facebook group in the town, Iain Wallis is adamant his group is unbiased, he took it upon himself to outright ban any post concerning or promoting Mike Rees on Sunday evening. A step up from outright banning of anyone who attempts to question the conservative candidate. A clear indication the group is about as unbiased as GBeebies, who axed a presenter for a gesture of equality and replaced him with a known fascist lunatic who might be dangerous if it wasn’t for the fact, he’s a man made completely out of foreskin.

We’ve been here before, call a spade a spade, this is clearly an act to condemn the opposition, and should not belong on a supposedly general local Facebook group.

Is it too much to ask for a level playing field, or can we agree Mr Wallis is not Mark Zuckerberg, and other sources for expressing opinion on local issues online are available?! Time to use them and not depend on petty bias Facebook groups political point-scoring.   

In another turn of affairs, on an uncensored Devizes Facebook group where Phillip is admittedly quite harshly criticised, keyboard warriors gathered to immediately point the finger at Mike’s supporters, again, despite there being no reference to him at all the post. Local online meeting points have become assuming while others jump the bandwagon; it’s even gone as far to suggest the support people are showing for Mike is, bizarrely, counterproductive to his campaign and, in another it suggests its angle is perpetrated by “loony lefties!”

Have to shudder at the laughable idiocy displayed here; Labour do have their own guy, Mr Junab Ali, you know? One which incorrectly aforementioned “loony lefties” can opt to vote for, and most likely would. Truth be told, support for the independent candidate is coming from all walks of life, class and political orientation, simply because common sense prevails, a man of past experience is favourable for such an important role, over a politician, no matter what colour rosette they pop on their top pocket. No point in calling an electrician for a plumbing job.

Besides, the hypocrisy is better measured by the bleeding obvious fact that Mike is independent, he’s apolitical, and his whole campaign is based on the PCC role not being a political one, rather the only allegiance he has being with the people the police are supposed to serve! Mr Spock would surely agree with the logic. In speaking several times to Mike, at no time did the subject of politics even arise, and Mike gave no indication to his own political preference.

Not forgoing, the former Detective Superintendent who solved the murder of Sian O’Callaghan, Steve Fulcher is backing Mike Rees, as would, I suspect most police officers, and hardly any of them could be described as “loony lefties!”

 

Mike Rees with Steve Fulcher

It would be a wonder where on earth the notion of left-wing sway in an independent campaigner derives from, if not this underlying concern, seemingly the average conservative thinker assumes anyone with the slightest concern for towing the Tory line completely, comprehensively and without question, must therefore be some kind of imaginary leftist extremist and as reformist as Jeremy Corbyn’s vest.

This is about as shallow as it gets, for the time being. I have to wonder what dirt they’ll pathetically attempt to smear on him next, he probably pulled down the Edward Colston statue, organised the suffragette movement, or is secretly Watt Tyler leader of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt!

Ah, bless ‘em; you have to salute their comradeship and solidarity, if not their canopy of disillusionment disallowing them gumption. You believe what you will; I’m getting no kudos here, no reason to back any side other than my own self-assurance Mike is without question the chap for the job. And in that there’s no reason for me to be dishonest. Mike is a genuine guy with time for everyone, hardened by the force, firm but fair, the man for the job.

At the time he threw me off the group for suggesting it was unfair to the conservatives to throw money at their campaign, when the outstanding debt in still is dispute, Iain Wallis was keen to suggest I met with Phillip; “if you get the chance to interview Philip, you should take it. He is a good man.” And that’s precisely the argument misrepresented here; they’ve missed the entire point. I’ve not criticised the guy in any way, I’m in no doubt he’s a good guy with personality and charisma. I’m certain he’s effective at his previous roles, and I’m in awe and grateful for the service he has undergone to defend the crown and country. I would never mock any of this at all, rather salute him for this. It’s the hill of these beans though, which I don’t think is in anyway better for the PCC role than a man of previous experience, and it’s as simple as that.

I’d go as far as to say I didn’t even want to come to this party today. I’ve not the time left to interview all candidates, man gotta have a break now and then, and so I decided not to interview any of them. You can read Mike’s interview here. I’d sooner take a backseat on this journey, but messages I’ve received show me this is clearly an issue which folk want me to rant on, therefore I’m always willing to please, if my tuppence is worth anything!

Meanwhile, on Brian’s Campaign trial there’s a petition to Make the Conservatives pay for the re-election bill, click to sign it.

Meanwhile, on Brian’s Campaign trial there’s a petition to Make the Conservatives pay for the re-election bill, click to sign it.

As for labelling this website as bias, I would, if it was, but I’m only here to follow my gut reaction, more often than not supporting the underdog and the righteous; that’s my only ethos, what rosette you wear is up to you, I’d sooner we were all friends, but while extremism is flooding the conservative party, I cannot be in support of it, and deliberately associating the opposition with any negative commentary about their own is unfair, uncalled for downright deliberately devious. I only hope this will blow up in their faces, and the good folk will decide enough is enough, and vote out politics in this PCC election, for the display of deception is clearly being corrupted and this gives me little faith for a well serving police force should the Conservatives win.

Only you, and your vote stand between them.

Gail Foster interviews Mike

Local Supergroup Fundraising Event for Superhero Carmela

Here’s the thing, did you realise Monday marked the second anniversary of when Wonder Woman joined me on my milk round?! Yeah, true, and we raised some wonga for her alter-ego Carmela’s fund and fight against muscular dystrophy. And now Carmela is not only a tiny best friend of mine, but huge inspiration to us all and something of celeb now too.

Star of her own fun children’s book you can buy in Devizes Books to raise funds for her campaign, as well as hobnobbing with the stars, I’m delighted this evening to hear, some other of my favourite girls are reforming their supergroup to raise some funds in her name too.

Pre-lockdown, girl members of six bands annually joined for a fundraising one-off gig, and it was always something explosive, fun and a darn awesome night. Nicky Davis from Warminster based People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma Banned & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, will come together once again, at the Melksham Assembly on 16th October, for a show not to be missed.

This, for me, is all too much to take in, girls, girls, girls, I’m not sure I can control myself. The Female of the Species raised just over £3,000 in 2018 for the fantastic youth community project, Young Melksham, and for all their efforts, they were selected for a Community Civic Award.

This time all of your pennies from the tenner tickets will go to Carmela’s Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy, and those tickets are here.

Support will come from Melksham rock, blues and alternative covers and original band Plan of Action. Seriously folks, put this is your diary.


Hip Hop Trio The Scribes Live at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate This Friday

Yes, we’re being drenched with live music events like a mega tsunami over a once barren desert. Yes, locally hip hop is a needle in a haystack. Something different to suit you sir? A worthy trip to Salisbury on Friday I’d highly recommend, where if you go down to the Winchester Gate on that night, you’re sure of a dope surprise, because Friday’s the CiderFest Weekend Special day Bristol’s premier hip hop trio The Scribes have their throw-down!

Yes, we love The Scribes here on Devizine, not a bad review yet, and you can see for yourself, with Pewsey’s own Latino acoustic singer-songwriter yet in a hip hop fashion, Cutsmith supporting them, equally never a bad word said about him either. So, if you fancy some raw, contemporary UK hip hop, The Winchester Gate is the destination to lock in, and it’s free; no ticket required.

Cutsmith

Listed in the current CAMRA Good Beer Guide and voted pub of the year three times, (which is, as De La Soul will remind you, the magic number) by the Salisbury & South Wilts Branch of CAMRA, The Winchester is more than Arthur Daley’s drinking hole and somewhere we’ve notched on our to-do-list.


Etchilhampton Hill, The View Above Devizes

Our rambling reporter, T.B.D Rose is roaming once again, eastwards out of Devizes this time…..

Along the A342, you can see the signature Lion Monument at the entrance of an uphill road.


If you follow it you’ll find yourself by the Chalk Pit where you can park up instead of taking the road down into Etchilhampton village itself.
You’re on Etchilhampton Hill.


Walking past the Pit there’s a gate taking you to the Hilltop.


Even on a wet day it’s a wonderful walk for anyone willing to brave the elements and take in the unique view of Devizes and the historic scenic hillsides.


You might even be able to make out the Pewsey White Horse in the distance!
And if you’re ambitious you can walk over the hill onto Etchilhampton Road which leads to Coate and eventually the canal, beside which you can find the reputable pub The Bridge Inn on Horton Road.


The hill has several other paths, one for example which leads out onto Brickley Lane where you can head into Devizes Town, and another through a wooded pathway that comes out opposite Stert Village.


There are countless recommendable shortcuts and walkways you can take in the surrounding area and the fun is in discovering them. Hikers, sightseers and locals looking for a long walk take note.


Up to Trowbridge for Some Miller-Art

Halfway up the grand staircase of Trowbridge Town Hall, where it splits into left or right, my daughter, permanently two paces ahead of me, asked me which way now. I’d noted a sign to the art exhibit I’ve been aching to check out, so I called it. Problem was, the show is called “Up,” to which her only rejoinder could’ve been, “yes, I know it’s up, but which way?!!”

If I had reservations about the unpredictably positive response in asking if she wanted to come, being sports is her thing and creativity perhaps not so much, it was only that she might drag me around Usain-Bolt-going-for-gold fashion. Key to my pitch was that, essentially, the most appropriate movement in which to pigeonhole artist Tom Miller was street art, secondarily only to the fact she was “bored, with nothing better to do anyway!”

But it’s not her incentive on entry which is important here, rather her reaction inside the exhibit, and if she enjoyed it, which she did, anyone with a mere slither of a passing interest in art will we wowed by this show. For me, it was up my street and knocking loudly on my door.

Native to Trowbridge, Tom Miller exhibits at his hometown until 20th August, not long left to pay it a worthy visit. For yeah, Miller typically uses spray paint as street artists do, but only as a base for these canvases. He thickly layers acrylics and oils over it, amalgamating mediums as much as influences, in explosions of colour and meticulous and intricate detail. The result is staggering.

Swirls of psychedelia snake your eyes across them, akin to underground comix or yore, and in particular S. Clay Wilson. They can be themed darkly, with elements of cyberpunk, or lighter, fine art, impressionism is at play too. Yet there’s a nod to pop art, capturing humorous elements, wide-ranging themes from flowers to ice creams, and contemporary cultural icons, such as The Simpsons can be discovered on closer examination. Then, as you pan out, you begin to focus on a central point, the composition vortexes into a subject, often random, but themed to suit the surroundings. It is also a clear running concept to repeat the central subject atop the first, but slightly smaller in scale, and perhaps the topper most of one below, larger, like a play with a hall of mirrors.

Apt to mention a hall of mirrors, as there’s generally something fairground going on here, if the repetition of the central subject is cubist, it would be like viewing cubist art whilst on the waltzer. On a few occasions the subject can feel tangible, as fine art, expressionism, but with Miller’s style brashly expanding the realms of normality, somewhere along the lines. For this, and the running theme of these scaled duplications, Edvard Munch meets Marcel Duchamp in Salvador Dali’s studio, as the lines of expressionism, futurism and surrealism blur into dada in such a way only pop artists could’ve dreamed of.

But, as I said, if your knowledge of art doesn’t stretch to the influences and movements I’ve cited, none of it really matters, as why I contemplated René Magritte, my daughter also examined the concepts and discovered subjects. Like a Where’s Wally book, you could circle this exhibit twenty times and still discover something you’d not noticed before in these canvases.

Added to the pieces, there’s some sublime charcoal sketches, showing his workings and thought process. There’s also a bio, with printed matter showing the various private commissions and frescos which obviously couldn’t come to the exhibit, for quintessentially, Miller is a street artist, and in Bristol and round and about Trowbridge there’s some excellent examples. The brilliant finale to this show is, once you’ve left, you can make a beeline to Stallard Street to find such a wall with Miller’s art displayed, and in the same ethos as what’s on display inside. This added an extra dimension to the enthralling exhibit.

Plus, I’m pleased to say, Usain-Bolt had no influence over my daughter’s pace through the show, she took her time, examined everything and came out with some exceptionally precise observations. This is ideal to enthuse a non-art lover equally as much as one who is, as good street art does, but with the extra dimension of this influx of various art movement influences. Go see it, but hurry; it’s only running until 20th August!

Not forgoing Trowbridge Town Hall is a friendly place, where I gossiped and namedropped to the man on reception. There’s a vast and amazing array of events planned over the coming months, from the yoga classes to the PSG Choir and from Moo Moo Music for little ones to an impressive gig line up from the likes of Will Lawton & the Alchemists on 11th September, Onika Venus on 18th, Juice Menace on 25th, and on the list goes on….


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Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

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

Andy Hamilton, Definitely Coming to Swindon!

Here we are again, déjà vu. I’m taking to knocking our previews I’ve done before, stating back in early March last year, “apparently, the UK just cannot live too long without spending An Evening with Andy Hamilton and so he’s back for another short run of his ‘up close and personal’ show this summer, just to keep us happy.” And went onto inform the show comes to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on a date in May, which obviously didn’t, like just about everything, didn’t happen.

I’m glad to announce one of the most noted comedy writers and directors of the last few decades, Andy Hamilton has been rescheduled for Sunday 19th September, same place, let’s just pretend 2020 didn’t happen, shall we?

Because, sigh, and thank the stars for copy and paste, this is an evening of reminiscence and revelation, which looks back over his forty years in comedy and sixty(ish) years on the planet.

Audiences will have the opportunity to ask Andy questions on any topic as he takes a look back at his very extensive professional career in comedy. Beginning in 1976 as a contributor to Radio 4’s Weekending, Andy went on to pick up a raft of awards for co-writing and co-directing such household TV classics as Drop The Dead Donkey and Outnumbered.

His TV satires turned up the heat on Westminster with Ballot Monkeys and Power Monkeys, and he and his co-writer Guy Jenkin also penned and directed the hit British comedy feature film What We Did On Our Holiday. “In the spring,” I wrote last time around, “their latest sitcom Kate & Koji, starring Brenda Blethyn and Jimmy Akingbola, will air on ITV.” Of which it did, consisting of six episodes which concluded in April, and a second series is in the pipeline.

Andy’s numerous TV and radio credits include Have I Got News For You, QI, Andy Hamilton Sort of Remembers, The News Quiz, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and Old Harry’s Game. Andy’s debut novel, The Star Witness, is available via Outbound, and his handwritten (yes, handwritten!) epic fairy-tale comedy novel, Longhand was published last September.

Tickets for his show, An Evening with Andy Hamilton on 19th September at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre are here.


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Jesus Christ Superstar at The Wharf

With Jesus Christ Superstar coming to Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, I’m pondering, just how outrageous was it at the time, and how has adaptations and satires of biblical stories become more acceptable?  

So yeah, from what I remember, knee-high to a puppy at the time, he came down from heaven on a Yamaha, pulled a skid, killed a kid, trapped his balls in a dustbin lid.

Other rhymes circulated school playgrounds nationwide, but all the variations of the Jesus Christ Superstar theme were considered on the topper-most level of naughtiness, most likely because we figured it lampooned Jesus. When in all actual fact, above the tittering of school children, had the damage not already been done by the very thing we were parodying?

In a competitive era when the concept album had come of age, so rock musicals and rock opera were becoming fashionable, one had to raise the controversy bar in order to get noticed. With Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat already under their belts and bugging religious zealots, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice knew blasphemy long before Madge frolicked with an ethnic Jesus in Like a Prayer.

Cover story was, by twisting the Easter story into modern terminology and themes, it reached out to a new generation, but many didn’t see it that way. Banned briefly by the BBC for being sacrilegious, Christian and Jewish orders despised the album alike, and the musical was banned in South Africa and Hungary.

Such was the narrative, focussing on Judas rather than Jesus, his fears the compassionate movement had become a cult, Jesus’s declarations being besmirched by his followers, and this was a dangerous game which would attract the attention of the Romans, not forgoing it was condoning the common assumption Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, it might seem an unusual choice for the Wharf Theatre in Devizes. Yet, if anything, the degrading in offensiveness of Jesus Christ Superstar, is symbolic of how far we’ve progressed and become more accepting towards biblical adaptations and ret-cons.

After all Monty Python’s Life of Brian was only eight short years away, and today we live in a world where Homer Simpson prays for doughnuts, Trey Parker and Matt Stone depict Jesus in a boxing match with Satan or else hosting a call-in chat show called “Jesus and Pals,” and even locally where The Boot Hill All Stars sing a song about a “tiny Jesus” crucified on a hot cross bun!

For extreme retroactive continuity of the character of Judas, though, I’d highly recommend the self-published series by author Roy Bright, whereby, punished by God with immortality and banished to Earth, Judas rights his wrong by becoming a super-heroic, Hollywood-fashioned action hero!

Still, the revival of the controversial musical is trending, which through the aforementioned hullabaloo, took best part of decade to alter from rock opera album to the stage in London, and only because of its success in the USA. A new production was staged at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Ontario, in 2011, and by the 45th anniversary of its run, on Broadway, it returned to London at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

Whether you were intrigued or outraged at the time, or if like me, too young to form an opinion further than the amusing notion of Jesus’s nad-sack caught in a dustbin lid, to see it now might cast a different perspective on the synopsis than how it was perceived at the time, and you can do exactly that, a stone throw away.

A rescheduled performance from last year, The Really Useful Group Ltd presents Jesus Christ Superstar at Devizes Wharf Theatre from Friday 10th to Saturday 18th September. The strapline runs, Jesus must be stopped….  which is tricky to say the least, I mean, on a Yamaha and all!

It will, at last, be open to a full house, after restrictions have reduced capacity of our lovely theatre, and Devizine wishes it well. “It has been a long hard wait,” expresses publicity manager Karen, “as we were due to stage this just days after the first lockdown was announced.” And further to this, plans are ahead for the Christmas panto, Dick Whittington, with auditions on Wednesday next week, 18th August.

The box office is also open for the adaption of The Navy Lark, a classic radio comedy which originally featured Leslie Phillips, Dennis Price, Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee, on 2nd October, and Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show on the 16th.

The end of October sees an hilarious farce play, based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, dubbed ‘the worst singer in the world’ in 1940s New York, running from 25th to the 30th of October, and a one-off on the 16th November, Dan Clews portrays Paul Simon in The Paul Simon Story.

Wharf Theatre

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.


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Play the Wiltshire PCC Game; Fun for All the Family!

Here’s a fun and free game to play for all the family over the school holidays, where you can find out which one of you will be the new Wiltshire Police Crime Commissioner!

Well, actually, it’s a bit rubbish. But face it, once our council tax hits the roof to pay the £1.4 million for another PCC election, after the Tories made what is technically known as a cock-up, you won’t have the spare cash to buy another board game, so you might just as well print out this game board and make do.

You need five people to play the game, each player decides to take the role of a candidate respectively, no arguing now, not everyone can be Mike.

You will need to find a dice, who do I look like? Rich Uncle Pennybags? This isn’t Waddington’s you know. Oh, and some counters too, one for each of the following colour codes:

Blue: Conservative

Red: Labour

Yellow: Lib Dem

Orange: Independent

Murky Grey: Reform

Put your counters at the start and the first to roll a six, starts. Move around the board and the winner is the one who reaches the end first, democratic huh? But beware, if you land on a square corresponding to the colour of your candidate, you must obey the command written on it without question, as real police would. No Dirty Harrys here please; play fair, just like all the real candidates.

Best of luck, and have fun. Just think this could be the first Wiltshire election where the Tories don’t win hands down, but I doubt it, they paid me a backhander to rig the game! If you do win remember to whoop whoop, because that IS da sound of da police.

Roughcut Rebels Hit Trowbridge

If I was ever to be privileged to interview Bruce Springsteen, which I doubt I would be, I’d like to ask him of his thoughts now he’s 71, of penning a song called Growin’ Up at the tender age of 23. Similarly, I’d probe Pete Townshend, only a year young than the Boss, over lyrics of My Generation, which go, “hope I die before I get old!”

Yet, despite its title, I view My Generation to be less about a specific generation, and more about the attitudes of youth, and with this in mind, it could easily be placed into any subsequent generation. The Oasis cover aside, for this opens another Pandora’s Box I’m not willing to go down (I’ve a gig to review here,) it’s fair to say, akin to any song of the “mod” genre, it’s timeless.

To believe the “mod” is wrapped in sixties nostalgia is only partly factual, London’s emerging mod-girl sweetheart, Emily Capell sports a beehive hairstyle, but often sing-raps, like Kate Nash, and collaborates with Dreadzone. Similarly, the age demographic of Devizes-based mod cover band, The Roughcut Rebels spans generations, particularly now young Finley Trusler fronts it; still, he stands, belting out a vigorous and eloquent cover of My Generation.

It’s my reasoning for trekking to Trow-Vegas, keen to finally scrub “must see Finley fronting the Roughcuts” off my to-do-list. He got the job with two gigs before lockdown, thankfully bookings are returning for the band. For through his musical journey, started in the Devizes School boy band 98 Reasons, which branched off to duo Larkin with Sam Bishop, and still works with cousin, Harvey, as the Truzzy Boys, his cool demeanour stage presence and exceptional talent has to been celebrated. Query being, how would this fair with a proficient, yet older mod cover band?

The answer; very well indeed, thanks for asking. I jested with Fin outside the pub, asked him if he had to learn the songs senior to him, and he replied “not really.” This, and their dynamic performance, of course, proved my “mod is timeless” theory. In an explosive manner and highly entertaining show, they rocked Mortimer Street’s The Greyhound, and could do the same for any given venue.

Think of the eras the term encompasses, from The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Spencer Davis through to The Jam and Purple Hearts, onto Ocean Colour Scene, The Stone Roses, to Britpop, Oasis and Blur, and modern times like Jake Bugg’s Lightning Bolt, The Roughcut Rebels got them all covered, and, loving every minute of it, they took the slight crowd with them.

To blend A Hard Day’s Night into a set with A Town Called Malice, swiftly move onto Park Life, or The Day We Caught The Train, and return with the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie, displays their ability and keenness to incorporate and fuse epochs, and they do it with certain ease. Grant Blackman’s expert drumming and John Burn’s bass played upfront gives it oomph, while Mark Slade adds the succulent and memorable rhythms, topped by Finely’s accomplished vocals, accompanying guitar or else showy tambourine timekeeping like a young Jagger giving it Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Roughcut, huh? Yeah, they are a cut far above the average cover band on the circuit.

As for the venue, The Greyhound, I like it, in the shadow of The Pump, a long-bar town pub unexpectedly clean and tidy, with hospitable staff and drinks cheap as chips. Without so much as a blackboard, it could’ve done with promoting its live music event, as a regular told me he was unaware of it and only popped in because he heard the music. Consequently, the crowd was slight, and all-male (ladies, if you want to bag yourself a drunken Trow-Vegas native in a cheap polo shirt, this place is for you) but through the excellence of the Rebel’s music, all were up dancing.

Here’s a great local covers band which will pull in an age-spanning crowd to your pub, and spur them to spend at your bar; because there’s an anthem or ten for all generations, and it’s lively, accomplished and entertaining.


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Pop Up Youth Cafe Goes Down a Treat with Youth in Devizes

What a brilliant initiative on the Green in Devizes this week, and a pleasure to see what can only be described as a “mobile youth club.” It pitched up every day this week, with kids of all ages enjoying the facilities it provides. Me, ageing, either sleeping, working or complaining about sleeping or working, managed to completely overlook its very existence, while my kids and better half were aware of it.

Why am I the last to know about everything? Because I can’t be expected to look past my phone these days, relying on the book of face for my news, in-between sleeping and working! Councillor Jonathon Hunter Facebook posted about it, I inquired, perhaps unintentionally sternly, but only as a senior moment, I couldn’t see from the photos quite what the deal was!

So, I ventured down to see for myself, and aside the drizzle, it was in full swing. A volleyball net currently unattended, collapsible football goals with a group playing between them just beyond it, and at the van, children are surfing the net, or else playing a Tony Hawks skateboarding game on a console. There’s drinks, sweets and doughnuts aplenty, and Steve Dewar stands proudly by it.

Other features of the mobile youth club include a rock-climbing wall, which couldn’t come out to play because of the rain.

I was surprised to hear it had been in operation for five years. “I’ve been running Potterne Youth Club for about ten years,” Steve explained, and moved onto why it hadn’t been advertised on Facebook and other social media. “The reality is we don’t, because Facebook isn’t the best place to communicate with teenagers. It’s detached work; what we do is pitch up and engage with the young people there, we do it throughout the whole week, and day-on-day there’s an increase.”

Steve couldn’t see the point in me mentioning his mobile youth club, adamant the best form of communication for younger people is face-to-face, and besides, it was the last day it pitched on the Green, moving onto Trowbridge next week. I beg to differ, for if only to pay tribute to this guy and the wonderful work he does. In the plight of social facilities for children and youth clubs multiplied by this post-lockdown era, what Steve does here is at last as positive spin and proof amidst the doom and gloom of public services, there’s still saints like Steve, out their engaging youth the best way he knows how.

The opposite effect of a lack of amenities for youth is unfortunately anti-social behaviour, juvenile crime and possible drinking and drug taking, as we all know. Steve mentioned how the charity aided awareness and prevention of these difficult predicaments. But all the time, parents were always viewed as runners-up, his focus was entirely on the wellbeing of the children, except when he offered me a doughnut, kindly donated by Morrisons! The youth demographic there was all-encompassing, and clearly, they all enjoyed it equally.

It’s certainly evident here, social media is not needed to make kids aware of an occasion, it works by word-of-mouth as it always has. Grown up with it fed to them, rather it’s the adults who engage more with the internet, and while kids are still out, running, jumping and playing sports and games outdoors, a large majority of generation X are glued to their devises, ironically whinging that the kids are glued to their devises! I knew this, I’m guilty too, but it was great to actually witness evidence of it happening in our own town.

Steve also noted he attends local schools to let them know about the project. The van moves across the county, planning to pitch up in Trowbridge. “We’d love to do it more,” Steve expressed, “as a concept we could run this throughout the entire summer holidays, but because I work in schools termtime as well, my wife would kill me if I spent my entire summer holiday doing this! And also, financially as a charity, we get a little bit funding, and if we had more, we would plan to do more.”

And I conclude, ultimately, what an absolutely fantastic and inspiring guy, I tip my hat to Steve Dewar, and ask science, can we clone this chap?! We need more facilities like this, operating throughout the county and school holidays, we need more Steves!


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Devizes Town Band in Chippenham

“We’ve been waiting patiently to get back to playing again,” says our town band here in good old Devizes, “but now we are getting excited!” The reason, with regulations permitting, they’ll be at Chippenham’s John Coles Park, off Malmesbury Road, on Sunday 23rd May, 3pm-5pm, for some free live music, promising to be a “musical … Continue reading “Devizes Town Band in Chippenham”

Chapter 6: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Six: in which, to much surprise, the Davizes Town Council pull off a viable solution, and we complete this general silliness once and for all. “You might be right, for once, man,” Briggs gulped as he stood outside the Davizes Town Hall with his senior chief councillor, the mighty Yellowhead. “They seem more like … Continue reading “Chapter 6: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole”

The Naan Guru of Old Devizes Town

Not one for needles, but one for Indian street food, thought I’d better treat myself, and the good lady wife too, mind, after being jabbed. Yep, vaccination accomplished, the excellent service at Devizes Corn Exchange did not advise eating Indian street food was completely necessary, but did advise waiting fifteen minutes before driving. So we … Continue reading “The Naan Guru of Old Devizes Town”