Jon Amor to Take Up Sunday Residency at The Southgate

Featured images by Nick Padmore

I still remember landlord Deborah’s face aglow some years back, when she told me Devizes blues legend Jon Amor was booked to play The Southgate. He’s made several appearances since, as solo and as frontman of King Street Turnaround, but today the Southgate announced Jon will take up a Sunday residence at the lively Devizes pub…..

It will be a quieter New Year’s Eve for the Southgate, there is no music booked and from Monday 3rd to Monday 10th January the pub will be closed. “We’re keeping it simple on NYE, no live music, believe it or not!” Deborah said. “But we’re saving the best of the best until Sunday with a mega Blues/Funk/Rock gig to blow away the extended hangovers!

With an awesome line-up on Sunday 2nd, as Jon is joined with Innes Sibun, Pete Gage, Jerry Soffe, and Tom Gilkes, I knew about this little marvel, and it has been up on our calendar for a while now. What I didn’t know is this will build a new house band for the Gate, “yes,” Deborah delights to inform, “Jon Amor and friends are taking up residency! Sunday afternoon gigs, first Sunday every month for 2022.”

So expect to see King Street Turnaround with Jon and friends on the first Sunday of each month down the Gate, which is some great news!

The future is bright, the future is The Southgate! Reopening on Tuesday 11th Jan, with the absolutely awesome rock covers band Triple JD Band on Saturday 15th! Rock on!

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Meanwhile our event calendar is building up with choices for New Year’s Eve, do check it out for links, and have a great New Year; hopefully might catch you down the Southgate on Sunday, if I’m allowed out to play by the boss!

Billy Green (solo) @ The Hourglass, Devizes

Devizes Scooter Club NYE Party @ Devizes Cons Club

New Year’s Eve @ The Vaults

New Year’s Eve @ Massimos, Devizes

Rip it Up @ The Greyhound, Bromham

Sour Apple @ The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve

Six O’clock Circus @ The Talbot, Calne

The Roughcut Rebels NYE bash @ The Churchill Arms, West Lavington

New Year’s Eve Party @ The Green Dragon, Market Lavington

Illingworth @ the Waterfront Bar, Pewsey

Get Schwithty (Jamie R Hawkins & Phil Cooper) @ The Bear, Marlborough

80s, 90s, 00s NYE Party @ Wellington Arms, Marlborough

Deathproof Audio NYE Party @ the Vic, Swindon

Dubsouls & The Rumble-O’s @ The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath

Trending….

Sabs Call for Enquiry Over Hunter Police Officer Tasked to Manage Avon Vale Hunt Meet

Untangling the events of the violence which occurred in Lacock on Boxing Day, and received national press interest, could take some time. But in a shocking revelation today, Wiltshire Hunt Sabs claimed the officer Wiltshire Police sent to manage the meet, is a “fully paid up” member of the Avon Vale Hunt.….

PC Laura Hughes of Wiltshire Police, who also goes by the name of Laura Jordan, is seen in the videos taken at the meet, the sabs say she turned her back, “as violent thugs launched an attack on peaceful anti-hunt protestors,” and her own horse was ridden in the parade, by her friend and fellow hunter.

The sabs ask followers to make a formal complaint to the Office of and Police and Crime Commissioner and demand and enquiry.

Yet, further to our general article on Boxing Day Hunts, published prior to Boxing Day, we have indeed had a response from Communications & Engagement Officer, Philip Mackie, which might shed light on what could be viewed as a conflict of interests to many opposed to hunting. Basic upshot of this is, seems Wiltshire Police take the hunters on their word that there’s nothing illegal going on.

I asked Philip if Wiltshire Police observe the actual hunts, to be sure if a fox is flushed out, they do not pursue it, and would they be arrested if discovered they were.

“If offences under the Hunting Act are witnessed,” Philip started, “by the police or observers, they would be investigated as would any criminal offence.”

It must be hard to manage such an operation, I suggested, how does the police go about keeping up with the hunt to insure nothing illegal is happening? Do they use horses too?

“Wiltshire Police does not have a mounted section,” he replied, and continued to reveal they don’t even monitor the activities of the hunt. “We do not routinely monitor hunts as they are a lawful activity, if there is a suggestion of criminal offences, be they wildlife crime or other public order, assault offences or intelligence lead us to believe there is/was a likelihood of it happening officers would attend. The Rural Crime Team will also be looking to deter/capture hare coursers.”

So, it really is left up to the public to capture evidence rather than the fully-convinced police to monitor the goings on, despite mounting evidence many hunts do illegally kill foxes and the apparent trial is but a smokescreen, even if this particular hunt doesn’t.

Perhaps an oversight by Wiltshire Police to send an officer actively engaged in hunting, or considering her hobby is legal, nothing inconsistent is taking place here, but it cannot assist them particularly well to uphold impartial evaluation, and police the meet accordingly. It could be said PC Laura Hughes puts her career above her pastime, and policed the event accordingly, but some questions need to be raised as violence broke out between protesters and hunters at the event and it seemed, via videos, to be uncontrolled and out of hand.

I’d even say, policing this protest must have been no easy feat, and pressure on Laura and other officers to maintain the peace on such a dividing rural issue should be credited and valid, their contribution to policing should be upheld and acknowledged. Perhaps it was a wise choice to have someone who knew enough on the subject and understands the issues at hand?

While the protests staged by hunt sabs may be viewed as unwelcomed by some villagers, who else is there to insure nothing illegal is happening? How does Philip view the presence of hunt sabs? I asked him if their efforts are helpful to the police, if they work together, or if they are seen as an unwelcomed vigilante group?

“Hunt protestors and monitors are not viewed as a vigilante group,” he replied, “they have a passionate concern for the welfare of wildlife and this is understood and supported by the police and where criminal offences are suspected we urge them to come forward to provide their evidence.”

Evidence such as this shocking video from Surry Hunt Sabs, of the Boxing Day Royal Artillery Hunt at Chitterne? Warning: there are some shocking scenes depicted here:


Trending…..

Tributes Pour in for Bradford-on-Avon Musician Tom Rockliffe

Image by Richard Clarke (c) richardclarkephotos

Described as a “local enigma,” Bradford-on-Avon pays tribute to local legend, Tom Rockliffe today, who sadly passed away. Tom was celebrated for his rootsy blues and west country folk, delivered with humour and modesty.

Yet Tom was so much more than this, a stable presence on the local music scene, he hosted open mic nights at Bradford’s Canal Tavern and The Swan Hotel, lent his hand at a number of locally based events, including Fringe BoA, The Bradford Roots Festival and The Village Pump Folk Festival.

Long-term friend and work associate, Kev Kyte told us, “Tom Rockliffe was one of life’s true one-offs.”

“I first knew him when I was 22, and he was 47,” Kev continues, “when I started work for a family firm which built narrowboats. Tom and I were the two boatbuilders, the only other people working there being the couple who owned it.”

“Despite my youth, Tom accepted me as an equal, without question. This is rarely the case in engineering. Tom was a man who was passionate in all he did, and all he believed in. He believed in fairness and hope to all who deserved as such.”

“During the time we worked together, he often commented how the general public looked at us welder fabricators- a skilled trade, however with us often wearing scruffy, burned clothing- as ‘tramps with tape measures.’ I often smile, thinking of that wry observation.”

“Tom was hugely passionate about music, another thing that made our friendship transcend that of merely colleagues. A man who walked and hitchhiked many, many miles in the sixties and seventies to some of the most vital, well-known gigs and festivals, he was especially proud of having been at the first ‘Pilton festival’, Glastonbury as it’s now known.”

“He was in his element when recalling seeing Led Zeppelin, The Stones, Hendrix, etc. His passion was contagious. Tom became very important in the local music scene, playing extensively as a solo guitar player and singer, performing covers and his own music, such as his best-known number, ‘The Tortoise Song.’ He organised and helped organise many festivals and open mic nights, proudly championing his fellow musicians.”

“Tom played at my father’s 70th birthday,” Kev explained, “and also my wedding, as the sole performer at each. A fantastic raconteur as well as musician, he went down extremely well at both. I will miss my old friend very much, a man who truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, and always for the better.”

Ade Ibanez shared a picture from the early days of the Canal Tavern, and said of Tom, “he did more than anyone can say for local music and musicians. So much has developed from what he started.” And heartfelt tributes poured in on the Live Music in Bradford-on-Avon Facebook page, including the Swan Hotel.

Renowned local band, The Boot Hill All Stars added, “Tom – you were definitely one of the good guys. A music scene is nothing without those enthusiastic people at the grass roots getting things off the ground and giving people their first opportunities.” And band member Mick, who also runs the monthly show Sounds of the Wilderness on West Wilts Radio plans to pay tribute to Tom on the coming show.


Trending….

Paul Lappin & The Keylines Live at Pink Moon Studios

If you need a breather from the perpetual cycle of cliche Christmas song mush, do yourself a favour; Paul Lappin & The Keylines released a live EP last week, it’s as “name your price” on Bandcamp, and I’ll wager my Christmas stocking and all of its contents, you’ll eternally thank me for the advice.….

On the 12th November 2021 Paul Lappin & The Keylines invited a few close friends and family to Pink Music Studios in France for a chilled evening of wine, food and live music. This EP is a recording of five of the songs performed during that session. For a tenacious link to our ambiguous local rule, note while now residing in France, Paul is originally from Swindon.

Back in October 2020 we fondly reviewed his studio album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, celebrating its vibrant Britpop rock, immersed in some astute and genius song writing prose. And in turn, we were allowed to use the outstanding single Broken Record for our Julia’s House charity compilation. For which, you might suggest, I’m duty bound to sing the praises of everyone who contributed, to which I’d reply, yeah, only partly but unnecessary, just shut up and listen to this; Live at Pink Moon Studios is utterly gorgeous.

If Broken Record packs a punch, and The Boy Who Wants to Fly meanders between forthright rock and tenderer acoustics, this little piece of wonderful revels in the latter. So much so, it smooths out of the restrictions of a label like Britpop, though subtle shards of it remain, and is comparable to acoustic folk rock from way beyond the subgenre, say, as steady and emotive as Nick Drake.

In the past I’ve made comparison to our own song-writing local legend Jamie R Hawkins, in their shared ability to twist a narrative so deeply into sentiment, tears will well; this EP comes closer to my point than I’ve ever heard from Paul. It’s so wonderfully placed subjects, wistfully glides your mind away, on the journey with Paul, like all good acoustic should.

The first two tunes, After the Rain, and Lying Awake in the Dark both come unplugged versions from The Boy Who Wants to Fly, Slow and Steady featured on his 2018 album, Move On, and I’m uncertain of the last two, Seeds of Doubt and Set in Stone, perhaps they’re new, or exclusive to this EP. I’m far from all out intending to research their origin, as it’s just to easy to be set adrift on the songs, relishing in the moment.

Morish simplicity, man and guitar composition you’ll crave it never ends, and I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve hit the replay button with such haste before! Paul is at his dreamiest, fluffiest and virtually subterranean in his deliverance of these masterpieces.

Subjects not so unusual but handled with the proficiency to wow, of lost or found love, picking up with a bongo drumbeat and wailing electric backing guitar at track three, Slow and Steady, with a chorus dripping of anthemic Britpop, of Oasis or Verve in their prime, yet maintaining that spellbinding acoustic goodness.

And for the last two tunes of mysterious origins, are perhaps my favourites, Seeds of Doubt, is a self-analysis theme, mind-bogglingly passionate, and the parable soulful finale, Set in Stone, as is with a live album, there’s a wholesome rawness about it, echoing honesty and scrupulousness throughout, you feel like you’re a guest into a secret meeting, you feel a part of it, and that, is simply, beautiful.


Trending….

PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Tractors, Tinsel, and “Suggested” Environmental Issues

From Devizes to Marlborough and back, last weekend, Sunday 19th December saw a repeat of last year’s Tractor & Tinsel Run, and Devizes Young Farmers’ fundraising event attracted masses of attention. Our man Andy was at the scene and I leave his thoughts on it here, I just wanted to add my tuppence too; you know me! Firstly, I offer thanks to the Devizes Young Farmers and congratulations on the success of the day.……

Raising for both Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society, the Devizes Young Farmers told me they haven’t got a grand total yet, “we will let the Just Giving page run for a while.” For which you can find by clicking here, if you wish to donate.

Confirming this was their second year, they added it was the, “first year for the night run though!” So popular it virtually broke local social media groups with videos, images and messages of congratulations. I had to ask them if they think this could become something of annual Christmas tradition. “We have discussed doing it bi-annually, however it gets such good feedback and response from the public, we are considering doing it annually.”

In fact, the only negative feedback on social media has been concerns about the environmental impact. Puts me between somewhat of a rock and hard place, being the event’s popularity and the amazing fundraising achievement. I figured I’d ask local “green” experts for their thoughts on the issue, rather than play party to social media ranting; and before you throw your toys out of the pram and ingeniously change the D in my name, Darren, for a K, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their responses!

In the global scheme of things, I consider the environmental impact of a fleet of tractors pottering around town to be but a pinprick, and Graham for Sustainable Devizes was equally constructive. “We have very little engagement with farmers locally,” he begun, “yet they are essential to protecting the environment and biodiversity.  Our approach to sustainability is to take practical steps and form partnerships.  When we campaign it is to start practical projects that will make changes and not to make criticisms of any particular group. We wish to engage with farmers on big issues such as protecting biodiversity rather than take positions on individual actions which have laudable aims.”

Council Green Party Candidate, the aptly named Margaret Green, was similarly supportive, “I agree that raising money for charity is a good thing and assume that the tractor mileage for the event is a donation from the farmers. I think the event has a positive outcome for the community,” she replied, “In terms of climate crisis and emission reduction, farmers are ideally placed to deliver positive outcomes in the form of increasing biodiversity through wildflower meadows (potentially associated with local energy production in solar farms). Their transition to reduced use of pesticides and fertilisers also benefits the soil’s ability to sequester carbon, a key element in a sustainable future. As stewards of our landscape farmers are our friends!”

Naturally the real test would be from the Devizes and Marlborough Extinction Rebellion group, who were somewhat lost for words, noting “like quite a few charity events, it’s also a polluting event,” but even they weren’t overly negative! So, to those whinging on social media today about the environmental impact, I’d suggest they put that in their vapes and puff it!

It now leaves me with the great pleasure to pass you onto roving reporter on the scene, Andy Fawthrop, for his thoughts. All I will add is; I believe the hashtag #nothingeverhappensinDevizes is a splendid piece of ironic overstatement created, correct me if I’m wrong, by local satirist (among other things) Mr Ian Diddams, therefore not to be taken to heart!


Tractors & Tinsel

Andy Fawthrop

There’s a bit of a (joking) saying that “nothing ever happens in Devizes”, a phrase that deserves to be fully buried and forgotten for just how incredibly inaccurate it now is.……

Whilst in Pyongyang they parade their missile-launchers, and in Moscow they show off their tanks and troops, this bit of rural Wiltshire did something rather better last Sunday by showcasing its own arsenal of terrifying hardware – tractors!  And not just a few tractors, but loads and loads of tractors.  Decked out with tinsel.  And Christmas trees.  And Santa Clauses.  And truly it was enough to frighten the pants off any super-power even thinking of ever invading The Vize.

Along with hundreds of others gathered along the route all the way out to Marlborough and in the Market Place in Devizes, my inner tractor-man came suddenly to the fore.  And what a sight we witnessed, as the massed squadrons of agricultural machinery drove past us, headlights shining, horns blaring, drivers waving.  And this was no mere token gesture, but over 150 colourful beasts roaring past us for the best part of an hour. 

Thanks to Devizes Young Farmers for their amazing vision and organisation, for the second year running, in the middle of deep mid-winter, we had another fantastic display of hardware as tractors rolled through the country lanes of Wiltshire on their way back to T.H. White’s gathering ground.  Rwanda might be famous for its gorillas in the mist, but in this neck of the woods we had tractors in the fog.  And not just the once either – this year for the first time we got a reprise of the shorter D-Town loop in the winter darkness.  It’s said that there are some weird folk, like our doughty editor, who simply don’t “get” tractors, but I can’t understand that at all. Personally, I was mesmerised – like a John Deere caught in the headlights, you might say.

Of course part of the (unintended) entertainment was spotting the looks of horror on the faces of the drivers of cars trying to pass through the town, suddenly finding themselves between a massive JCB or CASE, and a flotilla of Massey-Fergusons, wondering what level of hell they’d suddenly found themselves in – absolutely priceless!

To say that was a great success is surely an under-statement.  You only had to be there looking at the children’s faces (and those of a few slightly leaky-eyed men of a certain age) to realise what a lot of joy and excitement this all brought to the town.  And social media was bending under the sheer weight of photos and videos posted online, as local folk let all their friends know far and wide just what an amazing town this is.

But of course, it wasn’t just for the hell of it: there was a worthy purpose behind such madness.  The whole thing was organised to raise funds for two brilliant charities – Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Alzheimer’s Society.   And there’s still time to help make a difference in our community and beyond by donating at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/devizesyoung-club

So it’s a massive “hats off” to Devizes Young Farmers, and everyone else involved in organising such a fantastic bit of rural entertainment.  It was wonderful, it was awe-inspiring, it was totally bonkers.  And a great event out in the open air in the lead-up to Crimbo.  Let’s just hope it now becomes an annual and traditional fixture in the D-Town “Nothingeverhappens” Calendar!


Editor’s note; I only “don’t get” tractors without fridges and stereos as standard, otherwise I’m virtually Wurzel!


Trending…..

REVIEW – Kossoff – The Band Plays On @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 18th December 2021

Free At Last!

Andy Fawthrop

And so we came to the last LSBC offering of 2021, marking the half-way stage on the current season of concerts.  It’s been a packed programme recently, but no-one’s complaining about that!

Last night’s offering was as good as a double-header as far as I was concerned.

Drafted in at relatively short notice as the support act was local legend Jon Amor, a man I’ve seen many a time as the head-liner.  He bounced onto the stage brandishing an acoustic guitar, and looking full of beans.  It seemed strange and unusual not to see him backed up with one or other of his bands, particular King Street Turnaround, as I last saw him at the Southgate recently.  But there was no stopping him as he confidently blew through several songs, and at one time wandering out in to the audience to sing acapella before returning to the stage to finish the song.  It takes guts and panache to pull that sort of thing off, but it worked wonderfully.  Highlight song for me this time, as often before, was “Another Stitch In Your Party Dress”.  It was a great short set – chipper, upbeat, confident.  Great to see Jon in such great form.

Main act was Terry Slesser’s 5-piece Kossoff – The Band Plays On, who produced two confident and polished sets.  They were last at LSBC back in May 2019, which I remember as one of the highlight gigs of that year.  I won’t bang on about Free/ Bad Company/ Back Street Crawler being the soundtrack to my musical upbringing in the late 60s/ early 70s but….but…well, they just were.  And, yet again, it was soooo good to hear some of their songs knocked out with precision, love and energy.  Slesser, taking lead vocals, is no Paul Rodgers in either looks or voice, but he certainly makes up for it in passion and delivery.  His command of the band and his easy connection with the audience were winning features.  And the band, again no look-alikes, were terrific when it came to that lovely sludgy, driving Andy Fraser bass and that Paul Kossoff squealing lead guitar.

They kicked off with Free’s “Fire and Water”, a stonking opener which immediately put down an early marker of intent.  I’ve said before that these guys are no mere “tribute” band, content to slog through a greatest-hits set and take the money.  This was much more about “homage” to some truly gifted musicians and song-writers, nicely capturing the sound and the feel of the early 70s, with Slesser’s personal recollections of Paul Kossoff interspersing the songs.  And the song selection itself was interesting and respectful, delivering some of the lesser-known numbers, such as “Long Way Down To The Top” and “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler), “Walk In My Shadow”, and “I’ll Be Creeping” (Free).  And there was the more subtle, non-rocking stuff, such as “Be My Friend”, proving that the band (like all the great rock bands) were not just one-trick ponies, but capable of writing tender and thoughtful lyrics.

Of course there was the usual leavening of stonking hits – “The Stealer”, “My Brother Jake” and (inevitably) “All Right Now” – which all went down a storm.  And, just as Free themselves used to do back in the day, delivering their well-deserved encore that thumping blues classic “The Hunter”.

Great entertainment, and a great night out.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins. 

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

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

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

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

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

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


Trending….

REVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Christmas Concert, including Faure’s Requiem @ St John’s Church, Devizes – Saturday 18th December 2021

Chilly Church Concert

Andy Fawthrop

I’m not sure why White Horse Opera are so shy of publicity, but I’d seen very little on social media that this event was even taking place.  Trusting that it was still on, I rocked up at the appointed time, and sure enough there was a gathering of those in the know.  The church was only about half full, and surely would have had a much bigger turn-out if there had been more advertising?  Given all the hard work that goes into rehearsal to produce these concerts to a very high standard, could I tactfully and very gently suggest that they work a bit harder on telling people about what they are doing? (They do usually contact us with news of forthcoming events, although not on this occasion, Andy; Ed.)

St John’s is wonderful old church, built and re-modelled at several stages through the ages, and makes for a challenging concert space.  The main body of the church, housing the pews with the masked-up audience, has a very high vaulted ceiling which creates a very big space to fill.  It also makes it difficult to heat at this time of the year, and I noticed that everyone was keeping their coats on.  So something of a chilly start.

The first half of the concert was a performance of Faure’s Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, composed in the late 19th century.  It’s a choral setting of the shortened Catholic Mass for the Dead in Latin, with a focus on eternal rest and consolation.  On this occasion the choral singers were accompanied only by solo piano played by Tony James.

I have to admit that this was a piece I was not familiar with, and (being honest) not one I’d have chosen as part of a Christmas concert.  Whilst delivered beautifully, voices soaring up into those lofty rafters, you can’t get away from the fact that it’s a very sombre piece.  Given the subject matter, that’s hardly surprising.  I personally found it rather difficult to follow and to enjoy, and was glad when the applause finally signalled that we had reached the interval.  Sorry – it’s not possible to enjoy everything, and this particular work didn’t really float my boat.

Unfortunately I had to leave at that point, as I had somewhere else to be, but hopefully the carols promised in the second half would have been more cheerful and uplifting.

Future WHO events:

Sat 8th Jan 2022                               Top of the Ops                                   7.30pm West Lavington Village Hall

Spring 2022                                        Ruddigore                                           7.30pm Venues TBA

26th, 28th & 29th Oct 2022          L’elisir d’amore                                 7.30pm Lavington School

More information on WHO is available at www.whitehorseopera.co.uk


Trending…..

Running with a Timid Deer

An absolutely spellbinding new electronica jazz-blues single out this week, of which I’d expect nothing less from what I believe to be one of Wiltshire’s most underrated bands, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, and produced by the brilliant Jason Allen.

With a grand piano opening, their evocative part-indie-part-trip hop ambience is accomplished to a new standard here, with Naomi Henstridge’s both soothing yet haunting vocals embracing howling strings and, wow, this rolling piano. It’s reflective of nineties nu-cool, the brilliance of Morcheeba or Portishead, yet without so much inspired of acid jazz or trip hop to make it cliché, rather it’s owning this refreshing edge to appeal to the more guitar-laced indie fans, too.

Run, their first single since February’s Crossed Wires, and they never cease to amaze me. This is cooler than the climate outside, just beautiful. “Here’s something we’ve been working on for what feels like an age,” Timid Deer say, finishing by saying they’re aiming for a new EP early in New Year, and for some Salisbury gigs, but I say no, please gig organisers, let’s get these guys aiming much further afield too; we need to see you in Devizes (Deborah Bufton Barnett, Ian Hopkins and Phil Moakes, I’m talking to you, make my Christmas wish come true!) Trowbridge, (Mr Moore) too!


And yes, Find Timid Deer with 45 other amazing artists on our 4 Julia’s House Compilation by clicking here!

Trending….

Can We Stop Boxing Day Hunts?

Make no mistake, there’s a civil war under our noses, which comes to an apex when blood-thirsty predators triumphantly parade their wrongdoing on a day when most of us struggle out of bed to reach the fridge. Judge for yourselves who’s the goodies and who’s the baddies here, but pray tell me you’re not party to this obnoxious pageant? I mean, hardly “Christmassy,” is it, unless of course, Santa puts a bullet in the head of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for not keeping up with the herd?  

Posing a question in a headline, I’ve learned, attracts hits. Usual method is for me to then waffle endlessly, circling the question but never really answering it, until, only sometimes, at the conclusion. I’m gonna swap, answer it now, get it out in the open. Can we stop Boxing Day hunts across Wiltshire?

Don’t be disillusioned, and apologises for bursting any bubbles; the answer is no, not a chance, pal.

Despite good news last week that the Wilton Hunt Ball has been postponed due to the omicron outbreak, we all know pandemic restrictions last year didn’t bother them, and with reference to breaking news of government Christmas parties, flaunting the law for the most powerful in society doesn’t need investigating, according to police.

I mean, whatever did happen to the inquiry as to how hunting organisations pushed for a drink-driving Avon Huntsmaster to stand as Wiltshire PCC, costing the taxpayer over £3million for a re-election? The carpet is looking lumpy, how much more can be brushed under it?

Every avenue I explore on this subject gets blocked, no one in any position of power to help wants to address the issue. That is a total and utter disgrace and they should, quite frankly, hold their heads in shame.

Make no mistake, Boxing Day Hunts aren’t the bee-all-and-end-all of hunting, but they’re the most important hunt on the annual calendar, because the audience it attracts. The Countryside Alliance will try convince you droves arrive in support. True, Boxing Day hunts aim to condone and promote the tenet, crucial in their campaign to turn the Hunting Act 2004 on its head. Though many onlookers remain oblivious to the cruel realities, while others will be lobbying against it.

If all is not lost, councils of both county, town and parish levels can take action, if they wanted, ban it on their land, or at least refuse to accept invitations to, and disallow council land to be used to meet, thus reducing the celebration of blood sports and gradually eradicating the archaic and brutal custom.

In a heartfelt campaign, non-profit organisation, Keep the Ban, urge concerned folk to contact their councillors, celebrating success when Keswick Town Council in Cumbria decided to revoke their invitation to the John Peel Hunt. Locally, the wonderful Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs informed me Bradford-on-Avon Town Council “have banned both hunting and culling on their land at town council level” but reckoned, “it’s mostly symbolic, although there are definitely council owned farms (tenant farmers of WCC) that do cull, so a wider wildlife protection policy is probably going to be more use.”

However, fresh from a meeting, Alison Kent, Clerk to Pewsey Parish Council replied yesterday, “the decision was to allow the Tedworth Hunt to meet in the car park on Monday 27th.” A local hunt which the Wiltshire Hunt Sabs claim “weaponised their horses against sabs.” Why would they do this, without anything to hide?

Armed Tedworth Hunters

My first port of call is Wiltshire Councillor Laura Mayes, who despite as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, this is not her area of expertise, it must be said, is always willing to humour me and answer my endless questions on any random subject, and I thank her for her help. Although, her answer was unswerving; “I have done some digging and asked Cabinet colleagues and we all agreed that WC has no power to take any action, re trail-hunting as it is currently a legal activity. Any illegal activity would be a police matter.”

Wiltshire Council may convince themselves nothing illegal is happening, yet I argue, like a speeding driver, for them, the thrill of the activity outweighs the carnage it might cause. I’m no prude, I can understand it must be exhilarating to ride across the hillsides in pursuit of a target, addictive even, given hunting is ingrained in their psyche, passed down through generations. If an arsonist wandered into a fireworks factory with a lighter, would WC turn a blind eye, safe in the knowledge setting it alight would be illegal, therefore the arsonist would resist the temptation of their own obsession?

Countryside Alliance website outrightly states they oppose the hunting Act 2004, claiming it’s “bad for rural communities,” even, and, get your head around this brazen irony, “bad for animal welfare,” and a “waste of police resources.” If they feel like this, and nothing is done to prevent them, how on God’s earth can you expect them to not pursue a wild animal if it was to be caught in heat of the moment on this supposed fake trail?

Let’s take the last part of the CA’s stance; on Boxing Day police resources will be stretched, on a day they’d rather be peaceful I’d wager, because they’ll need to be present across the country where the crowds gather to observe this pretentiously parade of their unforgiving activity as a magnificent pageant. I have to wonder how much police time is spent keeping an eye on the hunters against policing the meetings. I also emailed Wiltshire Police to ask how they would actually patrol a hunt, horseback I’d imagine being the only effective method.

https://www.facebook.com/wiltshirehuntsaboteurs/videos/1220162211845307

I also wished to enquire what their relationship with the hunt sabs was like, if they supported the portfolio sabs are building to suggest unlawful acts are indeed taking place. Only this week, they posted a video to their Facebook page clearly showing The Royal Artillery Hunt rioting on two deer in an SSSI area on Salisbury Plain Training Area on Saturday 4th December, and Huntsman, Charles Carter, did nothing to call them off; something the Daily Mail suggested put the sabs “at war” with the Army.

A spokesperson for the sabs told me, “If something is being used as a smokescreen for a crime then either it’s an illegal activity or the law needs addressing!” Face it, Western Huntsman John Sampson in Penzance, was only found guilty of being in charge of dogs which killed a cat caught in the hunt on a Cornish housing estate, because a neighbour filmed him from their window, shamelessly lobbing the cat’s dead body into a nearby garden. If it wasn’t filmed, there would be no evidence. A clear indication hunters need monitoring, but while my press office contact with Wiltshire Police is usually responsive, they felt the matter needed to be addressed by the Rural Crime Unit, and passing my queries onto them was the end of our communication.

Should the police wish to respond, I can amend this appropriately, but time is pushing forward to Boxing Day, and my only line of information comes from The Wiltshire Hunt Sabs themselves. Far from a Batman-Chief Commissioner Gordan relationship, where Gordan doesn’t necessarily like the vigilante but compromises on the grounds they share the same goal, the Hunt Sabs were keen to criticise Police.

“I can show you a clip of an officer blocking a byway,” the sabs expressed, “when challenged he demanded evidence that they were illegally hunting, which the sab asked ‘well if you stop blocking the public right of way, I can get you some.’ He refused.” Whatever happened to inspector’s hunch aside, if investigation isn’t gathered by official resources, someone has to, furthermore, isn’t the officer acting unlawfully in blocking the byway, it’s a public right of way?

“Yeah,” the sabs replied, “accessing the byway was first a small section of ORPA (other routes of public access) so even though he had no idea what the public access rights where, he still chose to block it, even after offering to show him on an OS Map.”

Playing devil’s advocate, I supposed, his defence would be they were potentially there to “start trouble” when the hunters were doing nothing illegal. But how can he tell if the police don’t even follow the hunt? Have the Sabs ever seen police patrolling a hunt, keeping up with it to insure nothing illegal occurs?

“There’s no history of us starting trouble,” they replied. “The hunts always claim that but we don’t.  We’re just there to make sure they don’t kill. Wilts Police have never to my knowledge ever patrolled a hunt. Any time they are there it is to ‘keep the peace,’ which in reality means blocking us from stopping them killing.  The police don’t even know the law; on one hunt recently, two officers turned up and had to Google it on the way. I had to explain to them everything that was happening, and to be fair they listened, but initially they were too quick to take the hunt’s word that they were legally hunting. They have no training on this, I personally have emailed the rural crime team and asked, they’re not interested.”

I gulp at this, as while Wiltshire rural crime unit certainly isn’t responsive, the sabs said Gloucestershire Police now have “operation hunt,” and have said they will go out to hunts. But the real hard pill to swallow was my contact with The Wiltshire Hunt Sabs felt contacting the authorities was futile, adding in their understandable frustrations, “I can’t see them doing much, I personally have given up bothering with them.”

Still, all they ask for doing the tasks the police you pay for should be, is the price of a coffee to help their campaign funding, and they ask you sound your objection to Pewsey Parish Council for allowing the Tedworth Hunt to meet in their carpark, or contacting your MP and councillors in general, as Boxing Day Hunts go further than simply potentially bludgeoning a fox or any other animal which might accidently stumble into the crossfire, to death, but also act as a celebration and promotion of such cruelty.

I wish the season of goodwill to all men could extend to all life, all god’s creatures great and small, and I’m a realist who cannot accept nothing unlawful is happening here, when photograph and video evidence is there for all to see that clearly it is, and I thank the sabs for their time when others in power barely gave theirs, and for the difficult and arduous task they take on.


Trending…

A Right Christmas Carry-Con at The Vaults

Sunday saw Ian Diddams reading his Christmassy self-penned yarn at The Vaults, which over the past few years has become something of a decidedly anticipated yuletide tradition among Devizes socialites, not to mention raising wonga for local charities.

Directed downwards to, what is fittingly described as a vault, within the Vaults, a communal gathering amassed. With the ethos of a “quiet bar,” the welcoming and cosy Vaults is the perfect place for the art of conversation, and in turn, the superlative place for an event of the spoken word in town. It has hosted sporadic poetry slams, including Devizes Arts Festival ones with poet, Josephine Corcoran.

Previous readings from the amusing and talented writer Ian Diddams have mostly been parody, usually taking a recognised fictional serial, such as last year’s Sherlock Holmes, and placing it within an unsubtle comparison to Devizes, sprinkled with characters suspiciously resembling a variety of known locals. Combined with a truckload of locally-related gags, the effect is laugh-out-loud funny for its audience. This time, while still lampooning, the signage underneath his microphone resembling the florescent warning logos of the government’s national TV pandemic announcements, but reading “Taking the Piss,” gave a clue this one would be somewhat different.

Ideal to prevent things from getting samey, Ian took an alternative angle; a satirical stab at national politics, this time, sardonically capturing the current mood of the country and distaste for the cabinet. This was convenient for me, I pondered during the first interval, being I was subject to one his character assassinations in last year’s online version, and didn’t see how references to a toothless Cockney milkman would quite fit in with this synopsis. Ian, however saw opportunity to sprinkle the tale with a few local caricatures, and did so; I was not left out, something one should see as an honour, I guess!

Taking the viral Handforth Parish Council Zoom meetings, where the toxic Jackie Weaver became the unlikeliest of reality tv stars, as a base, Ian worked a story read through a year’s worth of minutes taken of meetings by an imaginary village, Little Twittington’s Christmas Club. Deliberately badly disguised characters bore remarkable resemblances to MPs, the most obvious and well-placed being a Pritti Patel-a-like, taking the role of Weaver, with her conceited habit of banning and blocking anyone who disagreed with her.

Chaos ensued, gradually building from the bureaucratic nonsense and general pomposity of village or small-town politics, thus partially retaining Ian’s trademark reflection on local affairs, but soaked in an undercurrent of Brexit, handling of the pandemic, perpetual scandals, mishandling and unashamedly backhanding of government.

Taking a subject out of its usual context to display how utterly preposterous it is, is possibly the hardest form of satire to perfect and convey convincingly to an audience, and Sir Ian of the Diddams knocked it out of the park. It must be noted, to mock something so meticulously is partly to recreate the style of it, so if the performance felt drawn-out, it only was so as it reflected the subject it was ridiculing; ever been exhilarated by a village parish council meeting? I rest my case.

Though this meant belly-laughs from the crowd were perhaps lesser than his previous stories, the overall impact was greater. I’ve no doubt this was both the trickiest one to pen, and in so much, the finest one to date; a stroke of genius.

As usual, the reading was separated by poetry, read by our own man in the field, Andy Fawthrop, who also manned the bar, and Devizes own poet Laurette, or laundrette at least, the absolutely brilliant Gail Foster. The multi-skilled master, Andy, gave us some particularly adroit and amusing poems with thoughtful seasonal prose, as is his style. The apex of which was a hilarious recollection of appearing in a school nativity.

Meanwhile Gail gave us a partial seasonal selection, with an amusing personification of the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree, a sombre and powerful pagan reflection of yule, and then she preceded to bring the house down by airing her dirty washing in public, the one of which if you’ve not heard, and are not an unsuspecting and lesser-endowed pipe-fitter from Grimsby, I’ll leave no spoiler.

All this spoken word madness made for my most entertaining Sunday for the longest, which might not be the most fitting accolade it deserves, being I spend most Sunday afternoon’s snoozing on the sofa in front of a Disney-Pixar classic not of my choosing, yet it is doubly satisfying to note a substantial contribution to local homeless charity, Devizes OpenDoors was raised. And if you missed it, I believe photographer Stephen McGrath captured it on film, which will be available to view soon, for a small contribution to OpenDoors. Send us the link, Steve, and we’ll share it here, as this was something you’d be sorry you missed, if you did, bookmark the occasion for a possible next year’s must-do.

A Right Christmas Carry-Con The Movie!

And here it is. Thanks to Steve McGrath for video production. All we ask is that you please donate to Devizes OpenDoors after viewing; there’s a link on the YouTube page, or donate directly HERE, thank you.


Trending….

Why Did the Gazette & Herald Single Out Trowbridge Takeaway with Zero Rating?

Working five years or more as a delivery driver for a local butcher, you witness some pretty awful hygiene practises while passing through numerous commercial kitchens. Yet via this experience I conclude, bad hygiene is not confined to any particular sort of eatery or of any class of establishment.

I delivered to everything from greasy spoons to London’s top hotels and restaurants, and in some standards are exceptionally high, whereas others are dreadfully dirty and pertain some terrible practises. I’ve walked through dog turd infested backyards, told to leave raw meat under the baking sun, I’ve seen a fish flipped onto the floor from a frying pan and promptly picked up and put back into the pan, and I could go on putting you off your tea, but never could I suggest such shocking things are only found in lower-priced establishments, the “posh” hotels and restaurants were equally as bad, often arguably worse.

Three days ago, freelance reporter, Beth Gavaghn broke news of four Wiltshire establishments which “have been given a zero rating by food hygiene inspectors,” published in the Gazette & Herald. Nothing wrong with this, you might suggest, it’s handy for the public to know these places rated low, and if you do suggest, I’d agree. My issue is with the structure of this, quite frankly, shoddy journalism, and if not shoddy, some bad choices made it undeniably bias.

The headline reads, “Trowbridge Chinese takeaway Happy Valley gets zero rating.” Aside grammatical errors, three of the four establishments are cherrypicked to be fleetingly noted, while Happy Valley took the brunt of the report, and was singled out in the headline. Billy Batchers Butchers in Shrewton and Sprinkles Gelato in Salisbury both scored equally low following an inspection, five months AFTER Happy Valley, but barely got a mention. The Bell at Great Cheverell also received a zero rating but mention of it was rushed through, despite being assessed at the same time as the Chinese Takeaway.

Not forgoing these inspections were made in March 2021, for The Bell and Happy Valley, and in August of the same year for Billy Batchers Butchers and Sprinkles Gelato, so for all their sakes, some update on work they’ve done to improve since would be handy to know, but I feel impelled to ponder, just why the one establishment was singled out? Did the reporter receive an adverse fortune cookie there, perhaps?!

It’s no good asking you guys, who are understandably as much in dark over this as me. I despatched a direct message to Beth via Twitter, two days ago and await a reply; just wanted to throw it out there, really, being there was plenty of time to reply, and that what I asked isn’t too OTT. That being: If other establishments also received the same low rating, why have you focussed and highlighted one in particular? That hardly seems fair. Well, are you with me? Does it sound fair to you?

Any reasoning would be speculation; I could, but I won’t go there. YetI’m not holding out much hope of a reply, unless she was to read this and shudder, oh, nasty blogger; I’d best dream up and despatch a quickfire excuse, but I had to note, further scrolling on the Gazette & Herald Facebook page revealed a sponsored advertorial for, coincidently, the Bell at Great Cheverell. “Paid partnership,” being the professional term, indicating backhanding cash to get reapproval, an avenue perhaps the Chinese Takeaway couldn’t afford to take, will get you off the hook; and you thought TripAdvisor reviews were skewered.

Conflicting, or simply the answer to our query, I’m not sure, but evidently, money talks. It should be importantly noted, a zero rating doesn’t mean an establishment must close, rather make significant improvements, and I would see no reason to be put off eating at any of them, the Bell is a rather splendid pub, and I’m certain they would have strived to improve on this rating. The others I am unaware of, but I’m sure in these uncertain times for any small business this exposure was superfluous and unwelcome; if all establishments scored equally, so should the balance of the report.

It is not your job, Newsquest, to wreck one business in favour of another. Heck, guys, I’d have given you a glowing review for a bag of prawn crackers; don’t bow to this injustice!

And readers, you’ve got your own mind, use it; accepting unedited and unsolicited submissions makes a newspaper look cheap and nasty, and I don’t believe that is what we want from local press; we’ve enough from Wiltshire Live, don’t stoop to their level, G&H.


Trending…

Monkey Bizzle Supports Boot Hill Xmas Bash at The Southgate

Not as greater deal of options for entertainment as recent weekends gone, I still had a double-booked dilemma. As much as nipping to the Sham for Train to Skaville appealed, I can rest assured this gig would go off based on past experience. Similarly, though, whenever those crazy canal-type Boot Hill All Stars are chalked on the Southgate’s board, their unique and often comical frenzy of gypsy-folk-ska is a hoedown not to be missed, despite seeing them plenty before.

I opted for the latter, partially being anything longer than a fortnight without attending the Southgate and I get withdrawal symptoms, but more so because The Boot Hills were supported by Monkey Bizzle, who I’ve yet to witness live. Aware of this bunch of bananas too, though, after fondly reviewing their debut album Idiot Music, back in July, a fine primer to convince anyone checking them out is a must.

So, it was to be, a rare thing; a single record deck united with conventional instruments awaiting a show at the ever-dependable Southgate Inn, Devizes, and intrigue set in on how some of the, shall we use the term conventional again(?) punters would react to this. Our own reviewer, Andy looked ominously at the addition, even when Monkey Bizzle kicked proceedings off, and I wagered he was pleased to see me, knowing I’d cover anything more my cup of tea than his. To mark its greatness though, it must be said, aside from not busting into crazy legs and finishing off with a back spin, Andy reported how much he unexpectedly enjoyed it.

Though just like the Southgate, we are limited to suggest anything about both bands in this double-header are anywhere near conventional, and with corsets, props and handmade geetars from recycled produce, the Boot Hills did their own thing, in their own tried and tested way, and it’s something to behold.

But not before Monkey Bizzle set the scene alight with their outrageous brand of rib-tickling hip-hop. In many ways, despite a different pigeonhole, the two bands complement each other with west country folk background similarities; even sharing drummer, Cerys. If The Streets injected something of urban capital life into UK hip-hop witty commentary, and Goldie Looking Chain did likewise for Cardiff, Monkey Bizzle do it for the west country. Though we may’ve hinted comparable before with the utterly fantastic Corky, while this one-man band offers pastiches of hip-hop classics via an acoustic method, five-piece Monkey Bizzle subtly fuse rock, reggae and ska into original compositions, scratching and rapping over hip-hop beats.

As self-confessed when waxing lyrical, the result is “idiot music, for stupid people,” and “if you think this is stupid, then you’re a fucking idiot,” yet all presented here is tongue-in-cheek. The mocking irony of the egotistical rapper bigging himself up isn’t something entirely new-fangled, neither are pot smoking, blagging mates or akin subjects covered, but Monkey Bizzle boons the concept with an agreeably local touch, and it works so very well.

Was it enough to delight da Southgate posse, hardly being the rock steady crew and all? I believe it was, and kudos to Deborah and Dave for bringing them, something different, to town.

Yet the show was only half-baked, and despite a few sounds hitches and the missing member due to sickness, professional rebels the Boot Hills came on to do what they do best, bring the house down with this insatiable zest for energetic folk rock, as danceable as ska, as cavernous as blues and as west country fun as the Wurzels in Toy Town.

Yes, it’s rude and crude, comically entertaining, with anarchistic, often blasphemous themes where female masturbation references, puking on a night bus and frenzied Dolly Parton and Toots & the Maytals covers come under banjo turmoil goodness. If it sounds like madness, it totally is, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, and it has become something of a personal Christmas treat tradition now; a predictably, but still absolutely fantastic night at the Southgate.

For the Boot Hills, the Xmas party continues next weekend closer to home, at Bradford-on-Avon leading pub venue, The Three Horseshoes. Meanwhile The Southgate hosts Phase Rotate next Saturday, the 18th, followed by Sunday’s unmissable Christmas party with It’s Complicated. Anything succeeding this will be stuffing Quality Street and cold turkey sandwiches.


Trending…..

Song of the Day 43: Lollipop Lorry

As promised/threatened (delete as appropriate) I’m continuing on with the pledge to relaunch the Song of the Day feature, and today proves ska is universal.

From Yekaterinburg in Russia, Lollipop Lorry have worked their way to the top of the international ska scene over a twelve year period, getting kudos through a tour of Mexico this year, where the scene is at its apex.

It’s refreshingly fun and carefree sunshine music, as ska should be, and this tune is out today. If anyone could translate I might know the subject, but the amusing speed dating video suggests a frustrating man-hunt! You just have to pick one, Svetlana, we really are all that rubbish, (excluding myself obviously!)

They first caught my attention and affection three years ago when covering the Gaylettes’ rock steady classic, Silent River (Runs Deep) in which one third of Bob Marley’s backing singer trio, The I-Threes, Judy Mowatt takes the lead vocal. Judy’s range is such that this was no easy feat, which front lady Svetlana made a cracking job of, in a sultry and distinctly Russian tinge; I’m smitten, don’t tell the trouble and strife… long distance relationships never work out!

Give their Facebook page a Like!

Song of the Day 42: The Piaggio Soul Combination

Randomly, long overdue, and hopefully welcomed, it’s the return of our Song of the Day posts. A short article usually without much actual reference to the subject, rather a quick nonsensical thought accompanying a video; something I can knock out quickly on my phone while watching mind numbing bollocks on TV.

Let’s say no more about knocking anything out with a phone, I’ll endeavour to try not to let it slip again, but make no promises, I’m dodgy like that.

So, on to the actual video! Italian mods, The Piaggio Soul Combination have just released this swinging classic soul sounding single, the first from their forthcoming third album Soultimate, and we love it. So, get your talc out, and bust a your move.

The joyous retro-soul floorshaker ‘Hang On’ is taken from the album Soultimate, their first album for punk and garage label par excellence, Area Pirata. Set for release at the end of January, it’s also the band’s first album to find them collaborating with Arkansas-raised singer Lakeetra Knowles.

 Hailing from Pisa and led by keyboard wizard Marco Piaggesi, the collective recorded the album with UK producer, musician, writer and Blow Up club DJ Andy Lewis. Formatted with club DJs in mind, the 14-track Soultimate is released on double 45 rpm 12-inch vinyl

Like ’em on Facebook!

My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival Announces 2022 Date at Swindon’s Old Town Bowl

Swindon’s Old Town Bowl is set to rock out once again, after last year’s successful fundraising festival, My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad.

The popular all-day charity festival in Old Town Gardens will be returning to Swindon on Saturday 16 July 2022, at The Old Town Bowl from midday until 10pm and early bird tickets are now on sale on their website.

This follows the inaugural festival which was held in August in tribute to David Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar who died in early June at Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer.

The August festival, which raised £12,633 for Prospect Hospice, will once again be supporting the charity.

Keep Calm, this is last year’s flyer!

The line-up of the August event included Kova Me Badd, The Boys from County Hell, and Gaz Brookfield and The Company of Thieves. The line-up of the 2022 event will be released in the next few months.

As well as the music there will be plenty of activities for all the family and food and drink from a variety of locally based vendors, including a licenced bar.

Co-organiser Ed Dyer said, “we were humbled by the response to the event in 2021 and totally stunned by the amount of money raised for Prospect Hospice, which has made the decision whether to run the event again an easy one! We are really excited to once again be able to put together a music festival in the heart of Old Town and to have the opportunity to make it bigger and better than before.”

The festival is now looking for local sponsorship. Any businesses who are interested in supporting the community event should email festival@mydadsbiggerthanyourdad.co.uk

Early Bird Tickets are available now from the website


Trending….

Old Habits of Treetop Flyers

Mega-retrospective bliss, this album from London’s Treetop Flyers, got me reminiscing…..

An expression of mixed emotions hung on my dad’s face as he sauntered past my bedroom. “What you listening to?” he grumbly enquired. He’s joined the dots between my music listening habits and his diminishing record collection, “yeah? I used to have that album….”

Property is theft for the anarchist, least this isn’t even theft, just relocated within the same household, and I’d like to think, flattery and the notion his records were getting revitalised befell my father. Not my fault this was the mid-eighties, a void between creative post-punk electronica and house, when we, the youth, were fully aware the hit factories was mugging us off with a monotonous catalogue of samey bullshit. Finding good music prior to my own days was a must, and we hadn’t YouTube, we just had these treasure chests of hand-me-down records.

Everything about Treetop Flyers’ new album, Old Habits suggests I should despise it, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The divine retrospection delivered the aforementioned fond memory; close your eyes and you can see the Ronco logo revolving at 33rpm on a mahogany music centre. My mind even sees the autochanger arm hinged aside. The only gender neutrality in the seventies was hair length; ladies played singles, men albums, big, hairy men with chest rugs you could lose a prawn cocktail in. And Old Habits could’ve nested between those long-players, not looking out of place.

This is Old Habits’ follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed eponymous album, which held a distinct American West Coast vibe, yet Old Habits moves away from this, guiding into the wonderous era of seventies British rock n roll pop; absorbing late mod soul, subtly hinting at psychedelia, but wallowing in Carnaby Street cool. Just like its influences, the Faces, Van Morrison, George Harrison, The Who, Ronnie Lane and Traffic, Treetop Flyers has produced a mellowed masterpiece now, which if it was recorded back then, would remain equally classic.

You will tingle akin to the saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street throughout this absolutely spellbinding journey, that much I guarantee. Treetop Flyers were formed in 2013 by frontman Reid Morrison, Laurie Sherman and Sam Beer, who met whilst playing in other projects as part of the West London folk scene. I went in blind, this is their fourth studio album, I was unaware of them, I came out the other side overwhelmed with a sense bliss.

From the off, Golden Hour, the opening track sets the scene; drumbeat retrospectively sublime, the piano and guitar combo marries, vocals enchantingly cool, and the tempo of each following tune blends into another; you’ll be tingling by the second tune, Dancing Figurines, hooked by the third.

If the horn-blowing Cool Your Jets is the most upbeat and beguiling, with essences of scooter culture, Castlewood Road calibrates the whole album and brings it to an apex. It’s dripping of Curtis Mayfield, or how you’d like a later Weller song. The theme is a street on Stoke Newington which the band’s lead guitarist Laurie Sherman lives, and the accompanying video was shot in Laurie’s house. “There have been many a British song about places where people lived or grew up and this is our kinda take on that,” explains Morrison. “We spent a lot of time there over the years writing and chatting, drinking coffee listening to records etc and Laurie actually mixed the new album (Old Habits) in that house too. So, I guess it’s a love song and thank you to those walls really.”

After a couple of listens I’m determine to dive deeper into this, and come out singing the songs; if you need me, I’ll be in a beige flowery shirt flowing across an oversized belt buckle, slouching in the corner of the front-room of a house party in 1976, next to the lava lamp, bellbottoms swishing, with headphones fit for Godzilla affixed, paying attention to nothing other than this absolutely gorgeous album.


Trending……

The Strange Case of the Bin-Like War Memorial

A Devizes resident, Simon Frankland on a Sunday stroll with his dog, stops to take a snap of an odd concrete rectangle on the grass verge of London Road, opposite the Aster Group building. Posting it to Facebook group, The Devizes Issue caused something of a mysterious stir, because while it rather resembles one of those seventies litter bins, Mr Frankland pointed out it is not, rather it is a YMCA war memorial, dedicating a long-lost garden to the fallen; who knew?

Some did it seems, after publishing this, so please read on to the updated section at the end, where some assumptions I gave are corrected, but the saga continues as more information about it is speculated on social media. The plot thickens, but the one thing we’re certain of it is not a bin, so don’t use it as one!

Begging for some to throw toys from their prams that it is disrespectful to use it as a bin, which by the paper and bottles wedged into it, and doggy poo bags surrounding it, appears it has been for some time, it must be said, you cannot blame folk because, left to the powers of nature, it does look uncannily like a bin, especially if passing by it on a dark winter evening, hurrying on a busy main road. Even those, apparently responsible for its upkeep, Bishop’s Cannings Parish Council, agree it does.

But if it was clearly marked and renovated, yes, of course, it would be disrespectful. There appears to be some markings engraved on the stone, but it is so worn they are near illegible and undefinable. Curiously, despite its rudimentary rectangular design, the reason it has been left to dilapidation, is its very being, and the location of its being.

I’m not here to point the blame at anyone, as it seems it has been understandably overlooked. Though it is based in Devizes, Town Councillor Iain Wallis believes it is the jurisdiction of the Bishop’s Cannings Parish Council, as his area stops at St James Church. Though the parish council admits while it is their responsibility, they appear equally unaware of it as others, and they think the design of it certainly lies with Devizes Town Council.

An antiquated boundary, an unfortunate bad design, premonition of a council litter bin thirty years prior, are likely the reason for it being overlooked and misused; a monument discounted through being on the borderline, near gardens of the barracks long closed down; you can’t stop the hands of time, but we can realise and respond accordingly to correct it.

As a consequence of me bringing the post to the attention of Bishop’s Cannings Parish Council, an email and a photo has been sent to the chair and clerk, and a parish councillor replied, “no doubts it will get sorted, as we have the RBL Seend Secretary as one of our Parish Councillors.”

Seems failproof, but I’m certain if it doesn’t happen through official procedures, our fabulous and trusty CUDS will be on the mission, as someone pointed out, they could just put a flower bed around it. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to make it identifiable, and then if someone still drops a doggie poo bag by it, Facebook police are rightful to have pop!

All’s well that ends well; i figured. We hope it will at least be renovated so it is clear what it is, and hopefully it’s meaning will be restored. Much as some whinge about social media, the power of such a post has to be admired, on a Sunday too; good job Simon!

Important update: contrary to my original assumptions about the monument, I’ve kindly heard from John Merritt, who has opened a Pandora’s box, by explaining it was placed as a result of the efforts of former Mayor of Devizes, Jim Thorpe, and was “unveilled” on 15th of August 2015.

Others have speculated it was merely moved at that point, from Hopton Estate outside the old Kennet Council offices to where it is now, so furthermore, it could actually be the responsibility of Wiltshire Council, or even the defunct Kennet Council, which may explain why it has been left to dilapidate.

Yet John’s revelation explained its existence, it perplexed me even more as to why it was designed to resemble a bin. Asking for it really.

John’s answer was simple and direct, “because nobody cares,” and he shared a letter he personally penned to the Gazette and Herald at the time, expressing dissatisfaction that despite Jim’s sterling efforts to get the stone to prominence, this particular ceremony was not intended to mark VJ Day. Along with traffic in Marlborough not being stopped for the occasion, John added, “contributes to the feelings of those who served in the Far East campaign that they are still the Forgotten Army.” A letter you really need to read to fully comprehend.

I apologise for my assumptions on this issue, and hope it did not offend. I can see this becoming “the war memorial bin saga,” but in light of this update, I’d argue all the more reason to at least renovate it so it is clearly not used for litter.

Personally, you know, I have a tin; that’s my war memorial. I take it out every Remembrance Day and browse through the keepsakes my Nan handed down to me. There’s photos, medels, letters from the war office, a notebook of my grandad’s movements with entries which alarmingly gets vauger as time goes on, and a Christmas dinner flyer 1947, signed on the reverse by all his fellow soldiers. It also interests my children too, who I’ll try my upmost to recite the stories he told me. For me, that’s my stone, and it would never be used as a bin.


Trending…..

Survival of the Friendliest with Beans on Toast

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

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

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

Beans on Toast

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

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

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

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

Get the album HERE


Trending…..

Webb Dreams of a White Christmas

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

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

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

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


Trending…..

Wiltshire to Freeze in Ice Age Temperatures, Especially Devizes!

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

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

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

Iain Wallis’s internet connection froze

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

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

Ruth and Doug on Monday Market Street, this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club Brings Blues Royalty to Devizes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trending….