REVIEW – Mark Flanagan Band @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 26th February 2022

Talent to Spare!

Andy Fawthrop

First time up the hill for me this year, having missed the Mike Zito Band last week (too busy running the Winter Beer Festival and listening to The Lost Trades and The Rob Lear Band, since you ask – but that’s another story altogether).  Good to get back to Long Street Blues Club and its dependably great audience and atmosphere.…..

First up, in the support slot, was Lewis Clark who I last saw here back in October when he supported Jimmy Carpenter.  Again Lewis was playing solo, and yet again did nothing but impress with his stripped-back raw and emotional lyrics, accompanied by unfussy guitar work.  His lyrics are, as always, personal and intense; his songs simply command attention.  His set was greeted with rapturous applause, and rightly so.  Lewis was due to play the Sunday afternoon slot at the Southgate on Sunday, where I’m sure he’ll play to a different but equally appreciative audience.

Then for the main act of the Mark Flanagan Band.  Mark is a man who’s been round the block a couple of times, and nowadays plies his trade (amongst other things) as part of the Jools Holland travelling entourage.  In other words, he’s met and played with many of the greats in the music business, which provides him with a wealth of anecdotes and stories with which to regale the audience between numbers.

His trio hit the stage with no big fanfare, and throughout the evening maintained a quiet but purposeful subdued presence.  There were no big drum solos, no guitar fireworks, just a steady stream of competently-delivered laid-back blues, funk, boogie-woogie, folk, Cajun, you name it.  Mark fronted everything coolly and calmly, switching instruments, styles and anecdotes with consummate ease, even giving his band-mates George and Adam a couple of numbers break whilst he just carried on solo seemingly undisturbed and unflappable.

And we had songs – proper songs!  Each had its own back-story of course, either who it was about or the situation that had given rise to its inception.  There was some name-dropping – Clapton, Richards, Harrison – but it was never gratuitous or intrusive, simply adding colour to a great musical tapestry.  The crowd was won over, there was a two-number encore and we were done.  The amazing thing was that Mark hardly looked to have broken sweat – one cool performer!

Another 5-star great night of world-class music delivered by Ian Hopkins and his team – hats off!  And just take a look at the programme still to come during 2022 – a mouth-watering array of talent.  Get those tickets and get yourself along to Long Street Blues Club!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Malone & Sibun Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Corn Exchange)

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

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)

Friday 14th October 2022                               Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 5th November 2022                       Alastair Greene Band


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A Gecko in Trowbridge Town Hall

It’s always a warm greeting as you enter Trowbridge Town Hall, even if, like me on this occasion, you’re running late…..

Prior to my arrival I digested the fact I’d likely forgone the supposed support act, Gavin Osborn, but was dammed if I’d miss Gecko, as since reviewing his sublime second album Climbing Frame back in October 2020, I’ve been aching with the understandable desire to see him pull it off live.

Mellowed piano song oozed from the humble hall ahead, oh no, I figured, Gecko has already begun. Such it is that Gavin recently resigned event coordination at the hall to the capable hands of then sound engineer, Kieran Moore, I assumed he was billed as a kind of farewell to his previous position, unmindful I’d emerge from the Hall a Gavin Osborn fan too. Even by the evening’s culmination I was also dubious of suggestions the two were collaborative, or if it was just banter between them.

But it seems a tag-touring-team is a reality, and given I’d mistaken Gavin for Gecko in the vestibule, who could be more apt to work with for the reptilian-named poet-esque singer? For luckily, Gavin was still on the subtle stage, virtually stripped bare of instrumentation save a banjo, microphone, music stand and randomly placed hardback chair.

Yet a guy looking remarkably like photos I’d used of Gecko accompanied him on a piano, tucked away by a side door. After the song I’d made my stealth entrance to was over, the pianist sat behind me. Uncertain glances behind affirmed, if there was a gecko in the room it was undeniably him, giggling at Gavin’s witty prose. I suppose this, coupled with their styles so similar I mistook the pair, should’ve been damming evidence this was more than a headliner and support act thrown in for sentiment, but what can I defend myself with, naivety caused by surviving on powernaps?!

In this, is the delight of the communal venue too. If there’s a stage green room it’s unused every time I visit; awaiting performers merge into the audience. This is no venue for egotistical celebs, and with barely raised stage and modest lighting, it’s a non-gimmick venue which bases solely on performance rather than dazzling affects. Professionalism and proficiency given, if you can hold an audience spellbound with such minimal affects and props.

Both did with bells on, and while I suspected the case with Gecko, Gavin was the surprise element. Akin to Gecko, Gavin is more storyteller than singer, though splices of prominent points were executed through great folky vocals, and highly amusing prose. Unlike Gecko, Gavin’s baseplate is folk, who through exceptionally crafted verse reminded me of the sentimentality of our own folk hero, Jamie R Hawkins.

Perhaps more akin to Beans on Toast, lacking Ozzie tinge, through observational narratives he weaved through subjects with spellbinding accuracy, hinging on familiarisation; I identified with many, particularly the amusing banjo led ditty of an aged fellow sneaking out to gigs while his wife seemed blissfully unaware in her slumber! But with heart-melting twists, Gavin wraps them up amusingly, either echoing retrospective contemplation or hinting at his political stance.

Time for Gecko’s opening song; could be anything less than the hilarious start of his album, Can’t Know all the Songs, which counteracts those who shout requests. Virtually unplugged he executed highlights of the album acoustically, and gave us unheard of tunes too, passing off his lack of backing as witty repartee. Such as pausing the song to switch from singing to kazoo during an amusing and uplifting tale of the Tamworth Two pigs, Butch and Sundance, who escaped their fate at a Malmsbury abattoir in 1998.

On this note it’s appropriate to highlight the major reason Gecko is so utterly entertaining, for not through particular quality of musician, though he is a natural, rather his choice of content and subject is so original, and his method of metaphorically weaving it into a more general point. Who writes a song from the POV of escaping pigs, or a dog sent into space? But better still, who can bend such narrative into a point you identify with? It’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, in song.

It’s a classic formula attributed to authors rather than songwriters, and Gecko reigns as either, acting with pseudo-confidence, encouraging audience participation to save him hiring a gospel choir, planning out a cliché encore by hiding behind the piano, even submitting profit margin differences between buying his CD here and streaming his music.

I think I put too much emphasis on hip hop in my album review, as his rap-fashion tendency contradicts his indie-pop overall, making it his unique style, part nerdy, part too cool for skool, but through stripped back live performance it is clear his devotion is with the latter, indie-pop acoustic goodness. A fashion with ageless attraction. But whatever pigeonhole you opt for, it’s undeniably entertaining.

If I’ve an only criticism the show was too short, the comeback is both Gavin and Gecko can suck you into their stories so time passes unnoticed, coupled with my late arrival of which I’ve only myself to blame!

Another wonderful evening at Trowbridge Town Hall, building a reputation for introducing a variety of interesting and upcoming acts, affordably; you need to be putting future dates in your diary.


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Marching On, Things to do Next Month, Part 2……

I’ve gotta do this, now, because with all good intentions I begin a rundown of events happening over a month, it all gets too much, I fear you’ll all be like “sod this for a game of soldiers, I’m staying at home and watching the entire back catalogue of CSI Miami instead!” So, I divide it into two parts, the second part of which I confess, I usually totally space out on; procrastination is my middle name, after all!

Since our first part, which you can read here, there’s been more events listed on our event calendar for March, such as details of Devizes Camera Club’s ‘Britain’s Best Landscapes and How to Photograph Them’ speech at Devizes Sports Club on Tuesday 1st March. Or the wonderful news just in, that the New Inn at Winterbourne Monkton are starting up live music every first Friday of the month, and the first one is March 4th with brilliant folk duo Fly Yeti Fly.

So, please don’t take this list as comprehensive, as I say time and time again, do keep checking in on the calendar, bookmark the bugger into your browser!

So midweek midmonth, Tuesday 15th sees the Starlings at the Royal Oak, Swindon, organised by Jazz Knights, who’ve held regular Tuesday jazz nights at the Oak for over a decade. Wednesday 16th sees another round of Marlborough’s Merchant’s House Spring Study Series, Painting in Challenging Times being the theme. And Cloggs Musical Theatre kick-off their Addams Family Musical at Chippenham’s Neeld, and it runs until Saturday 19th, plus a vibrant new solo play by Mark Farrelly at Rondo Theatre, Bath on Wednesday, called Jarman.

Thursday 17th is St Patricks Day, and The Celtic Roots Collective celebrate at the Southgate Devizes. Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman play Pound Arts, Corsham, and the Theatre Royal, Bath has Beautiful: The Carole King Musical running until 26th March, as well as Underwater, a dance theatre show, for babies and their families, running until 19th March. Meanwhile over at Rondo it’s violin and melodeon improvisation and invention in the capable hands of Peter Knight and John Spiers. Or there’s always Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus at Abbey Churchyard, Bath.

Friday 18th March

Friday is playtime at Trowbridge Town Hall, with theatre sessions for Pre-Schoolers. And here’s hoping for some signs of spring by then, as The White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert is Devizes Town Hall.

St Paddy’s Day extends, with Phil Cullen, aka Phil Hore at The Cavalier, Devizes for some Irish music & karaoke, while The Celtic Roots Collective are at The Barge on HoneyStreet.

Funked Up play The Pelican, Devizes and Lucy Farrell plays The Pump, Trowbridge. Boom-bap rap time at The Winchester Gate, Salisbury with The Scribes, and The Undertones, yes, the original Undertones are touring a new album, and they’re at The Cheese & Grain, Frome. Joshua Burnell Band at Chapel Arts, Bath, or, how weird do you want it? Embers Collective & Stumble Trip Theatre present some Wild Tales for Weird Folk at Rondo Theatre.

Saturday 19th March

Chippenham Museum has an adult creative workshop; Discover Cyanotypes, whereas Devizes Lions has a concert at St Mary’s “Rock into Spring,” in aid of MIND with the Steeple Rock Choir and Burbank; grab tickets from Devizes Books.

It’s the only outing for Long Street Blues Club of the month, and they have Canterbury mid-sixties and seventies psychedelic band Soft Machine. Alex Roberts plays The Southgate, Devizes, Deep Purple come Led Zeppelin tribute, Purple Zeppelin at Melksham Assembly Hall, while it’s STILL St Patricks Day at Trowbridge’s Pump, with harp guitarist Jonathan Pickard!

Staying in Vegas, it’s a fiddle and guitar duo, the Drystones at Trowbridge Town Hall with support from Luke Desciscio. Amusingly titled Evening Without Kate Bush at Pound Arts, Corsham is not a tribute act rather best described as a chaotic cabaret cult. But if more precise tributes are what you want, try XODUS, a Bob Marley & The Wailers tribute at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Comedy with Tom Houghton at Rondo, Mollys Chambers plays Prestbury Sports Bar, Warminster, and after a Artismis Witches Market at the Cheese & Grain, Gaz Brookfield & The Company of Thieves, say no more.

Sunday wraps the weekend up, as it usually does, and Jean Perrett hosts Nature in Art at Poulshot Village Hall. Mazl & Brokhe’s Yiddish Song at the New Inn, Bath, and the Frome Symphony Orchestra at The Cheese & Grain.

The last full week of March starts with a Rock the Tots: Space Show at Pound Arts, Corsham on Monday 21st. Again, Tuesdays are all about jazz hands in Swindon, when Iain Ballamy & Denny Ilett Quartet play Jazz Knights at the Royal Oak in Old Town. Thai Classics with Peter Vaughan at his Kitchen Cookery School on Wednesday 23rd, just piano with An-Ting Chang at Pound Arts, or piano by Anthony Bailey with added clarinet by Daniel King, at the Croft, Hungerford. Or Wasp starts at Rondo Theatre, Bath. Running until 26th, Wasp is a Morgan Lloyd Malcolm interchanging play on abuse, trauma, infertility, mental health and bullying.

On Thursday 24th there’s Plantation Rum Tasting at The Muck & Dunder, Devizes, highly recommended experimental dub-reggae-ska with Erin Bardwell’s side project Subject A at The Vic, Swindon, Track Dogs at Chapel Arts, Bath, while the Theatre Royal start Rice, running until 26th March, and Wiltshire legends of goth New Model Army play The Cheese & Grain.

Friday 25th March

A wonderful booking again by Trowbridge’s Pump, they’ve got Daisy Chapman, and if I had cloning technology, I’d also like to be at Chapel Arts, Bath, who have Will Lawton and the Alchemists, and rock n rolling at The Pheasant, Chippenham with the Chicken Teddys. The offspin and Green Haze play the Vic, Swindon too.

Saturday 26th March

There’s a craft market at Swindon Hub, and it’s the monthly Mini Chefs for ages 6-10 at Vaughan’s Kitchen Cookery School, Devizes, where Tantalising Tarts are on the menu.

Stealth Brewery have an open day in the Sham, and Rockin Em play the Melksham Rock n Roll Club at the Assembly Hall. DJ Culture in Devizes with Jimi Needles at The Muck & Dundar, and northern soul with Terry Hendrick at Devizes Scooter Club. But equally, live music too with Plan of Action at The Southgate and those Truzzy Boys at The Hourglass. CSF Wrestling at the Corn Exchange, Devizes featuring Simon Miller.

Metal in Frome with AC/DC tribute Live/Wire at The Cheese & Grain, and folk all round in Trowbridge with Fly Yeti Fly at the Pump Trowbridge with Tamsin Quin, and Antoine & Owena at Trowbridge Town Hall. The Clones at the Three Brewers, Corsham, while Pound Arts has a theatre screening, Plant Fetish by Chanje Kunda. Josephine at the Egg, Theatre Royal, Bath

Sunday 27th at the Vic, Swindon sees Spolier and Glower double-bill, and The Bone Chapel at The Royal Oak.

Rolling out the final week, The Revlon Girl starts at Wharf Theatre, Devizes on Monday, preview here. This one runs until April 2nd. Tuesday 29th sees Boundless Theatre presenting How to Save the Planet at the Theatre Royal, Bath, and Terry Quinney Quartet as regular Jazz Knights at the Royal Oak, Swindon.

Wednesday 30th and The Merchant’s House, Marlborough continue their Spring Study Series with Arcadian England: an Age of Opulence. The Homecoming at the Theatre Royal, Bath runs until 9th April and Black is the Color of my Voice until 1st April. Also check out In an Endless Garden at Rondo Theatre.

The month finishes off Thursday with An Evening at the Musicals at Trowbridge Town Hall, an immersive shared experience for children 3-8yrs at Theatre Royal, Bath called Squidge, Hannah James & Toby Kuhn play Chapel Arts, and oh, there’s a pub quiz down the Cavalier, Devizes.

Then it’s April, with lots of great stuff again, with a new play at Swindon’s Shoebox, Billy Bremners Rock Files at as Long Street Blues Club takes the Corn Exchange Friday 9th and again the next day with Carl Palmer’s Emerson, Lake and Palmer Legacy, Vic Fest at The Vic, The Wurzels at the Cheese, Back to Black, the Music of Amy Winehouse at Wharf Theatre, Professor Elemental at Trowbridge Town Hall with Boom Boom Raccoon in support, Easter and, oh, Devizes International Street Festival with The Muck & Dundar’s BORN2RUM Festival on the same day; ye gods, and lots more, I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!


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Ten Best Pubs to Hide in When the Volcano in Devizes Erupts Tomorrow

Here it is then, being we’re all buried in ten feet of snow today, your handy guide to the ten best pubs in Wiltshire, who, honestly, haven’t paid us a penny, in which to take refuge in when Mount Devizes volcano erupts, due tomorrow, after elevenses.…..

Wait for the reactions when this is shared on Facebook; “that’s not even a picture of the Devizes volcano, that’s Krakator!” “What poor research, Devizes has a few mounds, but no volcano!” “Other than the headline this article doesnt even mention Devizes,” or better still, “my USGS Volcano Hazards Program app doesn’t predict the Devizes volcano will erupt till next Thursday.”

And I thank them all for bumping the post up the newsfeed and engaging in the perpetual stream of nonsense from those who fail to comprehend how advertorials work. Yet I ask, please excuse me but I’ve no intention of interacting to any comments as I’m busy sharing the same article with all the different Wiltshire town’s Facebook pages, and changing the title to suit them accordingly. And not because I couldn’t give a toss if you believe it, or not, read it, or not, provided you click on the link.

And all for the sake of that very failure to acknowledge clickbait when a majority see it, which makes them work, and why companies spend so much money on them.

Of course, there’s many forms of clickbait, for you to believe are real, and increase our hits, so we can dazzle potential advertisers with stats; we’re just happy going with the flow, doing what other local media are doing, deceiving the general public to increase stats. Not mentioning names, naturally, but when it does erupt in Wiltshire, we’ll be Live on the scene with the other clowns.

Here at Devizine Towers we never tire at perpetually spewing sensationisling nonsense and disguising it as localised current affairs. One ickle scoop is all we need to exaggerate a slight dodgy weather forecast into a headline claiming (enter relevant town name) will be knee-deep in a snowstorm akin to the Star Wars planet Hoth, or one rumble in our high street and our market town has become Belarus overnight.

Or better still, if Brexiteer ‘I’m not paying my staff during lockdown, but please bail me out bestest buddy Boris’ boss, Martin Tim, or whatever which way his two fornames happen to fit, happens to lob a fat cheque in our direction, we will of course kowtow to his every word and publish numerous advertorials, singing his pub chain’s praises, but sneakly disguising them as news.

Here at Devizine, we love the fact the entire modern media is one big Sunday Sport, and look forward to reporting Wiltshire buses found on the moon, and how Danny Kruger ate our hamster.

But, for fear of you realising this is a biting piece of satire, and nothing really to do with the possible volcanic eruption of an imaginary volcano right here in Devizes, I feel impelled to actually tell you the best pubs of which to hide in. Or so help me, they’ll be complaining.

Incidently, these will also be the same best pubs in Wiltshire in which to hide in next week, when the zombie apocalypse hits, predicted to be on Friday.

1 The Silk Mercer, Devizes

2 The Bear, Melksham

3 The Bridge House, Chippenham

4 The Albany Palace, Trowbridge

5 The Bath Arms, Warminster

6 The Sir Daniel Arms, Swindon

8 The Savoy, Swindon

9 The Bell, Salisbury

10 The Reece, Witherspoon

Any connection with these pubs is purely coincidental and nothing to do with backhanders from R Witherspoons inc, thank you, and take care out there, the floor is either lava or snow, whatever,  we’re way past caring; just click on our links or another cute unicorn will be beheaded.

Swindon’s New Tribute to the Blockheads; Dury Duty

On the eve of a new tribute act fronted by Swindon’s Mark Colton, he tells me “Dury seems to be a forgotten genius and the blockheads are an amazing band still. We just want to remind people of what a great showman he was, and what great songs there are……”

I find myself pondering on Dury’s virtuosity, influence and why it’s popularly considered underrated. True, the meandering and wishy-washy narrative of Matt Whitecross’ 2010 biopic, Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll, didn’t do much justice, but his funeral, a decade prior to the film, saw a handful of celebrities, keen on honouring the mysterious persona of Ian Dury. From Mo Mowlam and Robbie Williams to Madness, the latter of whom occupied a similar place in the nation’s heart as Ian Dury and the Blockheads did a few short years prior.

A posthumous national treasure, in death he achieved what his dark and edgy character prevented him from accomplishing, a Times obituary praised the singer’s “Swiftian satirical streak” and acknowledged his “lasting place in the corpus of the English popular song.” If The Blockheads’ pseudo-fusion of jazz into punk didn’t wash with the atypical punk movement, it certainly scored them some hits, and anyway, when did punk itself ever adhere to “fit in?”

Ian Dury

To take onboard recent trends in British unpremeditated, often jokey street rap, the kind The Streets, Lily Allen and Kate Nash rinsed, Dury popularised that poetic verse, to consider post-punk’s more jazzy moments, The Blockheads reigned supreme, but perhaps the synthesis doesn’t pigeonhole them for a majority to realise the strength of their influence on pop.  

Swindon’s newly formed six-piece Dury Duty is dedicated to the songs and performance of legendary band leader and raconteur Ian Dury, rather than recent Blockheads reformation. This combo of experienced musicians strives to recreate the sound and feel of a genuine Ian Dury concert, drawing from material found within his solo output, his work with The Kilburns, The Blockheads as well as other side projects.

“I have decided to follow my heart and do the projects I have always wanted to do,” Mark explained, “including this one. The initial set features the sort of set around the time Do it Yourself would have been released, lots of songs from New Boots.”

Mark Colton

Colton leads in Thin Lizzy tribute, The Lizzy Legacy, temporarily fronted ska covers band The Skandals, continues in the punk cover band Rotten Aces, and has been gigging solo for a while with a repertoire of two-tone and punk covers. He basically has his fingers in so many pies, it’s tricky to keep up! I asked him if the concentration was solely on Dury Duty now, or if the other original and tribute acts are still in motion.  

“The solo stuff will continue,” he informed, “I have a few projects still on the go. My original material band CREDO is recording our 5th album, Rotten Aces are gigging again from April, after getting a new guitarist. I have a Marillion Tribute too, called Marquee Square Heroes, and the Lizzy Legacy are still active, but less so due to others commitments and of course, Dury Duty. Each band is a different challenge, but they all keep me on my toes!”

Along with the expected big hitters, such as ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’, ‘Reasons To be Cheerful (Pt.3)’, ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, and ‘What A Waste’ forming the backbone of any set, Dury Duty promise “lesser known but equally entertaining nuggets to whet the appetite of any long-time Ian Dury aficionado.”

Mark is joined by Jono Judge – Saxophones, Percussion and Vocals, Michael York – Piano, Keyboards, Guitar and Vocals, Brian Barnes – Guitars and Vocals, Rob McGregor – Drums and Vocals and Ken Wynne – Bass Guitar and Vocals. A self-confessed “talented band of brothers” keen on not only entertaining those familiar with the extensive cannon of this great performer and wordsmith, but to bring new fans to the man. “Ian Dury is sorely missed and his sharp, witty and often cutting observations on the mundane and absurd through his lyrics and poetic verse are carried forward by this.”

Opening gig is at Swindon’s premier venue, Old Town’s Victoria on Friday June 3rd, but are the band ready to roll, should a nearer booking come their way, I asked Mark. “I suspect we would do something if it came up for Dury Duty, but that’s what we are working towards at the moment. We will be looking to get out and get this working, the songs are a pleasure to play.” Got to wish them all the best with the project, being it innovative and crucial for a tribute act find a sustainably eminent niche which doesn’t fall into cliché, and for the reasons of Ian Dury’s elapsed stimulus makes this project exciting local music news.


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On the Buses with Pewsey Community Coronavirus Assistance

Parliament may’ve dissolved Covid regulations and passed the buck to public responsibility, for those still listening to them, but voluntary support group, Pewsey Community Coronavirus Assistance, originally established to assist the people of Pewsey and surrounding area during the pandemic, is not only still operating, but making improvements and necessary changes to fight, more generally, rural poverty in our area.

They proudly posted a photo of their new double-decker bus on social media, which just passed its MOT, but still needs support, help with electrics, carpentry and gas. “Our community bus was purchased to enable us to continue to fight food waste,” they explained, “food poverty, malnutrition, loneliness, isolation fatigue and cultural deprivation through our radical action plan in the heart of our community.”

The PCCA are currently operating out of the village’s Wesley Hall, “offering Foodshare by collecting food from supermarkets that would otherwise go to waste and by redistributing into the heart of our community where it’s needed most,” they continued. “The guys down at the hall have been kind enough to offer us the use of the hall while we are converting our bus, but as soon as we are good to go, the bus will be our new home.”

They deliver emergency food and household supply boxes to individuals and families suffering from financial hardship leading to food poverty, cooking nutritious meals every week for those more vulnerable members of our community, to ensure they get nutritious home cooked meals. The PCCA also run a donations-based fresh fruit and veg market and friendship café, “so people who are in isolation can come down, meet new friends and have a chat over free tea, coffee and cake, going home afterwards with a bag of fruit and veg.”

The extent of rural poverty is something seriously undersold and misguided through the seductive popular myth of the idyllic British countryside, and often imagined solely as an urban affliction. Austerity and the effects of lockdown has seen massive cuts to public infrastructure and services, so while often hidden, rural housing has an affordability crisis, employment has dwindled particularly for youth, together with increasing fuel prices, making ends meet is becoming increasingly difficult in rural areas like Wiltshire.

I would like to extend a warm hand of gratefulness for all the sterling work the PCCA has done so far, and will continue to do so, hopefully now more mobile. As well as the food packages, home cooked food delivery and community café, the amenities they cover is vast, from the Community Farming Initiative, library, and “buddy” helpline, to being a helping hand in dog walking. Everything they do is voluntarily, and they need helpers, plus funds to convert their bus to meet food safety standards on a mobile vehicle, which will cover the numerous villages of the Pewsey Vale area.

More information on the PCCA, here. Facebook here.


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Wharf Theatre Goes from Comedy to Tragedy

To those living in Devizes it should come as no surprise Jemma Brown can pull off a performance. Directing a stage version of the eighty’s sitcom classic Allo Allo at the Wharf Theatre has been hailed a massive success, Devizes’ sole theatre Tweeted this morning “Café Rene may have returned to the workshop, but the echoes of laughter will mark its place in Wharf history.”

But looking forward today at forthcoming performances, after the rescheduled feel-good musical comedy Sister Act JR, (25th & 26th February,) and the jocularity of award-winning theatre company White Cobra’s Betty & Joan, on the 5th March, the next in-house production takes rather a melancholic turn.

From the 28th March to 2nd April, The Revlon Girl is set eight months after the Aberfan disaster, the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in 1966, in the Welsh village of Aberfan. The devastating slurry took the lives of 116 children and 28 adults as it submerged the village’s junior school.

The Revlon Girl tells the real-life story of a group of bereaved mothers who met every week to talk, cry and even laugh without feeling guilt. At one of their meetings, they secretly arrange for a representative from American multinational cosmetics, and fragrance company Revlon, to come and give them a talk on beauty tips.

Directed by Lyn Taylor, this is a play packed with character and heartache, entwining the restraints, gossip and sometime irrationality of a small-town community, with the poignancy of a mother’s loss. There are many humorous, uplifting and hopeful moments, allowing this piece to bring much emotion and entertainment to its audience.

Book office is open on this one now, tickets are £10-£14, with the success of the recently closed Allo Allo, the Wharf goes from strength-to-strength, yet while a show like the last one will sell itself based on its background in popular culture, it is the poignant and ground-breaking dramas such as this which really deserves the push. Personally, I’m impartial to putting on some slap, bit of lippy at the weekend p’haps, but please support your local arts anyway!


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Marching On, Things to do Next Month, Part 1……

I bloomin’ love March, usually, but as we show this month the door, and with such a mild winter, do not get over excited; while temperatures improve slightly, except it’ll be a wet one. A day of snow predicted Thursday, March kicks in better, but worsens by the second week, with a forecast 15-22 days of perpetual rain, hopefully clearing at the end, from Thursday 24th.

To add a degree of optimism to all this, there’s a truckload of things to do over the first month of so-called spring, there’s hope we can see less events being cancelled and life in the great outdoors taking steps towards the positive. Still, I advise to check ahead before venturing out, via the links provided; our ever-updating event calendar doesn’t update that quickly to include cancelations, and I can’t be held responsible for such cancelations or failure of organisers to refund tickets. Also, it’s a minefield adding links to these events, so find them all on the calendar, ta muchly.

And do not take this as comprehensive, the calendar is being updated all the time, this is just some advance highlights and all things I’d do, if I had cloning technology……

Given all I’ve said about the weather, it doesn’t seem too bad for Bath’s Big Sleepout on Friday 4th in Alice Park; hats off to Julian House and all doing it, raising vital funds and awareness for people forced to sleep-out every night.

Prior, live rock, electronica and folk from novelist, playwright and stand-up comedian Grant Sharkey, with ecologist Thomas Haynes and Bristol the Badger, aka Grasslands, on Wednesday 2nd, at that little coffee shop Baristocats, on Commercial Road Swindon. While Thursday sees one half of Show of Hands, Steve Knightly, at Trowbridge’s Pump, and the other, Phil Beer kicking off his So Much to Choose From tour at Corsham’s Pound Arts. Meanwhile, it’s a three-way guitar showdown at Chapel Arts in Bath with Daryl Kellie, Will McNicol and David Mead, and the Apricity Theatre group bring a Greenhouse of emerging artists out of lockdown to the Rondo Theatre.

WEEK 1

Friday 4th

To week one, then; starting Friday 4th, for parents and babies, Pound Arts has Swings & Roundabouts by the Filskit Theatre, who are inviting the bum wipers, bedtime boppers and owners of tiny humans, to join actor, musician, and mummy, Sophie Ross, for a brand-new comedy musical. A nappy change in the evening though, with dark, gut-wrenching adult stand-up from Bobby Mair, on his Cockroach tour.

The Exchange, Devizes pushes up the Tempo with a drum n bass night, while for a more hip-hop/reggae related evening, try DJ Nicewun & Mac Lloyd at The Village Pump. For something lighter, Alan Titchmarsh is at the Theatre Royal, Bath!

If you are in Bath, though, and into folk, try internationally renowned Faustus at Chapel Arts, who also come to Marlborough folk Roots the next week, Friday11th, or The Rondo, where Cindy Stratton and Marius Frank, ZBella, men’s choir Sasspafellas and upcoming singer/songwriter Ellie Frank headline an evening of entertainment raising money for the refugee charity UNHCR.

Closer to home, our good friends Bran and Mirko, as The Celtic Roots Collective bring some Irish roots to Seend Community Centre, from 7pm, which is free or donations. Also look out for one-man mechanical alt-blues band, Funke and the Two-Tone Baby at the Winchester Gate, Salisbury, a tribute to Nightwash, Knightwish, at the Vic, Swindon, or Coyote Kings at the Village Inn. Oh, and the Fillers play the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 5th

Saturday, and the Wharf Theatre, Devizes has the award-winning theatre company White Cobra, presenting Bette & Joan, i.e., Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, in danger of becoming has-beens but get an opportunity to appear together in a new film, if the arch-rivals don’t clash.

Swindon’s original band with bluesy intent, Thud come to The Southgate, while the Bear’s Cellar Bar reopens with free entry to a 70s-80s Disco with DJ Andy Saunders.

It’s happy third birthday to Melksham’s The Hiding Place, and The Carpenters Experience, which speaks for itself, at the Assembly Hall.

Trowbridge Town Hall get post-punk DIY vibes with a triple billing of Slagheap, Slug Puppie and Carsick, while Chippenham’s Neeld have Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders, and The Cuban Brothers take The Cheese & Grain, but when in Frome, local punkers One Chord Wonders play the Sun. In complete contrast, Pound Arts has critical acclaimed folk and Americana, with Ida Wenøe & Samantha Whates.

Back to the arts, Rondo Theatre, Bath have Charlotte Palmer in an hilarious and moving one woman show, sometimes angry exploration of women over 50, who find themselves overlooked, ignored, disregarded, in short becoming The Invisible Woman, and Theatre Royal’s Egg have The Dark, Peut-Etrê Theatre which merges vibrant physicality with live music to create captivating and energetic performances for the whole family. It is even accessible for blind and visually impaired children through integrated audio description and touch tours.

Sunday 6th

Jon Amor’s first Sunday of the month residency at the Southgate, Devizes is the place to be, promising guest Jonny Henderson. But allow me to also recommend Bath’s Yiddish folk collective, Chai For All, who celebrate International Women’s Day at the Grapes.

Week 2

The Theatre Royal, Bath starts Willy Russel’s musical Blood Brothers on Tuesday 8th and running until Saturday, while the Ustinov Studio has an epic cycle of short plays exploring the personal and political effect of war on modern life, called Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat running from Thursday to Saturday.

But for a locally themed performance, try the Theatre screening of Naming The View at Pound Arts, Corsham, on Thursday. Naming the View takes its inspiration from Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, yet it’s setting is Seend.

Meanwhile, Chapel Arts, Bath has three days on the trot of acoustic folk with Chris Wood on Wednesday, Nick Hart on Thursday, and The Lost Trades play Friday.

Friday 11th

Aforementioned internationally renowned folk with Faustus at Marlborough Folk Roots club, and there’s open mic night at Trowbridge’s Pump, the third heat for amateur musicians of Take The Stage at Chippenham’s Neeld, and ancient ballads promise to be awoken, poems given the tunes they’ve long deserved with Salt House, Scotland’s foremost performers; Jenny Sturgeon, Ewan MacPherson and Lauren MacColl at Pound Arts.

I’d recommend the experimental jazz-fusion of SexJazz, at Swindon’s Beehive for a Harbour Project FUNdraiser, funding art sessions for Swindon refugees and asylum seekers. Also, the Relayaz Band at Bradford-on-Avon’s Boathouse, or for Thin Lizzy fans, as I know there’s a few, Limehouse Lizzy play The Cheese & Grain.

But Devizes best of luck wishes go out to our Full Tone Orchestra, who present Gilbert & Sullivan Pirates of Penzance at Bath Abbey; glorious!

Saturday 12th

Saturday is a whopper, spoiled for choice you are! The most excellently unique Bristol-based Two-Tone punk meets Sierra Leonean percussion duo, Two Man Ting return to The Southgate, Devizes. Meanwhile the Corn Exchange opens its doors to the Lacock-based Wiltshire Soul & Blues Club with a blues extravaganza headlining Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, and there’s a rock n roll night at the Conservative Club, fundraising for Kennet Gateway Club with Mickey Ace and the Wildcards and DJ.

With support by the awesome Train to Skaville, boot boys need to get to Melksham, where Madness tribute Complete Madness take the Assembly Hall one step beyond. Meanwhile our indie-pop heroes, Talk in Code support for The Worried Men at Trowbridge Town Hall. The Dunwells play The Croft, Hungerford.

The Roving Crows play Chapel Arts, Bath, masters of euro-trance, Transglobal Underground at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and there’s a Party & The Pavilion at Minety Rugby Club, featuring a number of bands, including our friends The Dirty Smooth.

Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake tributes rolled into one at the Vic, Swindon, with Rising from the Deep, meanwhile, Room 101 take the Castle, and Mean as Custard, Loaded Dice and Six O’clock Circus have a free band-off at Level III, fundraising for Swindon homeless charity the Moonlight Express Project. Oh, and MECA have a Sausage & Cider Fest; two of my favourite things!

But if gigs don’t tickle your fancy, there’s some excellent family theatre too; Saturday and Sunday at the Theatre Royal, is the place to find The Super Greedy Caterpillar, and Pound Arts in Corsham have Zoo Co Theatre coming in, presenting Messy, where you can meet Daisy. She’s got a messy brain and a messy bedroom, which makes it very difficult to look after her class hamster Mr Twiggy! A magical visual story, complete with original music, puppets, tap dancing and even a trip to the moon!

Messy is performed by a deaf and hearing cast with Sign Supported English, created in partnership with ADHD Foundation, where all performances are Relaxed, without loud noises and lights left on, and it is followed by a free workshop afterwards.

Saturday at Pound Arts also sees ENG-ER-LAND by Hannah Kumari and WoLab, a football-themed play set in 97, with 13-year-old Lizzie, obsessed with the beautiful game.

Sunday 13th and I got nothing, yet, except CSF Wrestling at The Cheese & Grain, but that’s why you need to keep checking into our bulging event calendar, as more comes in all the time. So much, I’m leaving it there, through fear of repetitive strain injury of my typing fingees. Either that, or it’ll be the middle of April before you finish reading it. But don’t, whatever you do, think for a second there’s nought to do in Wiltshire, and we’ll finish off the rest of March in a few days, give you time to digest this lot first!


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Devizes’ Cellar Bar to Reopen

Ding dong! Glad to hear new owners of The Bear Hotel plan to reopen it’s glorious landmark Cellar Bar on Saturday March 5th, and to celebrate the fact DJ Andy Saunders will be on his wheels of steel, spinning retrospective seventies and eighties tunage.

It’s a free disco-tastic night from half seven till midnight, so zip up your boots and just keep rockin” but not too much pushing pineapples or shaking trees, please, Mr DJ.


Three Crowns and Some People, Like Us

Red level weather warning, they said, only make essential journeys they said, but fail to define the terms of what is essential. Is helping an elderly relative essential, getting to work, or a doctor’s appointment? What about People Like Us playing the Three Crowns, Devizes?!

To those hunting original live music, perhaps not, for this local trio covers is their game, fully aware what will rouse a standard pub crowd, and they do precisely this with such uniqueness and deliver it with such passion, for everyone else it is, totally essential!

To catch Nicky, back on two legs after an injury which I might add, failed to prevent her performing, and behind that faithful scarlet keyboard, Dean at the strings, switching lead to bass guitars, and now skinheaded Pip, (shaved his head fundraising for our Carmela, but seems to like it,) who, even not best postured for delivering vocals, slouched over a cajon, still somehow manages to professionaly grace the moment, is, in the words of the great Yogi Bear, smarter than the average pub covers group.

Putting a finger on why opens a Pandora’s Box, aforementioned drive, skill and professionalism evident in many a covers band. Still, People Like Us submits all these qualities as if a sponge cake, then they add icing. Observing the demographic of the crowd at the Three Crowns holds a clue, every landlord desires a cross section of punter and the repertoire of this trio truly caters for them all.

Short notes I make to jog my gradually degrading memory mystify me this morning, as one simply read, “new song” adding my daughter’s name; she knows it! Silly to have thought it useful at the time, but relevant to my point. Expect a few contemporary among their plethora of pop hits, but an also era-spanning setlist to leave you guessing.

Yep, walked in to an Oasis cover, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, and The Stereophonics’ Dakota particularly adroitly enacted modern indie tearjerkers followed, with eighties electronica power pop such as Together in Electric Dreams, or even The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, blended with this balanced collection. Yet with similar dedication Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters got the breathtaking PLus makeover.

Yet I believe, for People Like Us, no decade within the crowd’s indivdual most cherished era is as off the cards as genres are. They will take you back to the seventies with ELO, Fleetwood Mac, even a possible Abba(?!) covers, and with similar assertion slip in nineties britpop and indie anthems too. Tonight saw plenty of this, wonderful was Take Your Mama, by the Scissor Sisters, but particularly captivating was their rendition of the Cranberries’ Zombie, with perhaps a little too “lite” on riotous version of the Kaiser Chiefs’ classic, but Nicky wowed with authority upon covering Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.

Bottom line is, it makes zero odds what the tune they’re covering is pigeonholed as, they add their stamp, and with banter between songs often verging on near tiffs, they represent reality, comfortable being what’s written on their tin; people, just like us.

Zero multiplied by anything is zero, and that should be a landlord’s percentage of doubt in considering booking this trio, if they wish their punters to return home satisfied they had a fantastic night, for that’s precisely how I’m certain the crowd at the Three Crowns last night feel this morning, perhaps with a shadowing hangover!


Trowbridge Town Hall Rides into Spring

At the beginning of the month Devizine covered Trowbridge’s musical renaissance, highlighting The Village Pump and Town Hall’s dedication to introducing a variety of upcoming local bands and performers. Explaining Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore had “big shoes to fill,” taking over as chief event coordinator for the Town Hall from Gavin Osborn. Well, the proof is in the pudding, and that dish has made it off the serving counter and onto our table.….

Not forgoing, the programme is already in full-swing, with Truckstop Honeymoon at the Pump on Friday, (18th) a cider swiggin’ scrumpy and western hoedown with The Skimmity Hitchers and our great friends, and the Boot Hill All Stars supporting at the Town Hall on Saturday.     

Boot Hill All Stars

Such is the fashion for live music in Trowbridge, Fridays at the Pump, Saturday at the Town Hall, aside some great happenings at Stallards and Emmanuel’s Yard, comedy and more commercial nights at the Civic. Gecko appears next Saturday at the Town Hall, and all-day Sunday there’s   fundraising session, Kalefest, a family-orientated mini-festival for some musical equipment for a teenager with a severe brain injury, in which Zone Club, Pete Lamb’s Heart Beats and The Relayz play.

Marching on atop this free six-week interactive course of workshops for 16- to 18-year-olds, covering all aspects of the music industry, next month sees a continuation of great bookings, of which we highlighted in the aforementioned preview, here. What we’re here today for is to check in on Kieran, see if he indeed “filled” those shoes for the ongoing season.

So, just revealed, April and May listings at the Town Hall and Pump, which have equally exciting news, as, perhaps, Mr Moore asks the shopkeeper for a shoehorn. Isle of Man’s recent export to Wiltshire, Becky Lawrence, the musical theatre singer-songwriter who wasted no time fitting into the local circuit, joining established local bands, The Bourbons UK and Clyve and the Soul City Foundation, teams up Bristolian country singer-songwriter Zoe Newton to pinch-punch April at the Pump.

Zoe Newton at Bradford Roots Festival

Whereas, in the name of variety I’m surprised to see The Town Hall hosting a “rum and reggae night” on Saturday April 2nd; it’s as if they’re calling to me! Seriously though, I’d wager youngsters reading this are asking Siri what the hell a shoehorn is.

But nice surprises flow, as Gavin Osborn himself plays The Pump, Friday 8th, with his band Comment Section. Regulars at Stallard’s, locally-based indie-rockers Riviera Arcade arrive at the Town Hall with Gloucestershire’s electric-punk favourites, Chasing Dolls on Saturday, with (udated) Devizes/Swindon NervEndings headling the show.

NervEndings

Alcopops Records’ Croydon duo, The Frauds play the Pump on the 15th, with Ipswich’s experimental indie-pop darlings, Lucky Number 7, while Henry Wacey and Dan O’Farrell are there on Saturday. Surreal stand-up, Welsh hard rockers The Vega Bodegas are at the Town Hall on the Saturday, with support from Wiltshire-based metal trio newcomers, Last Alvor and self-confessed “degenerates,” synth-punk noise-makers Benzo Queen.

If that weekend is atypical of what I’d expect Mr Moore to assign, the following, Saturday 23rd is different. Kieran is no stranger to asking what acts local giggers would like to see via social media, as Brighton’s Chap-Hop legend Professor Elemental comes to the Town Hall, with support from my recommendation, Bristol’s fantastic veganomic ska-punk-folk crazies, Boom Boom Racoon, who’ve we fondly followed in the past on Devizine.

Boom Boom Racoon

If I’m excited with boom boom coming soon, while “Sunday league” songwriter Tom Jenkins finishes off April on Saturday 30th, May is positively booming too. Local soul-hip hop DJ, Mac-Llyod gets the crowd prepped for another of my personal favourites, Bristol’s bouncy boom-bap virtuosos The Scribes, on Saturday 7th May. Aching to encourage these guys a gig more local than Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, I’m delighted to see this on Trowbridge Town Hall’s listing; they’re definitely calling to me now!

Pan-European ‘inventive and thrilling’ alt-folk duo, singer-songwriter Tobias Jacob and double-bass playing multi-instrumentalist Lukas Drinkwater play the Pump on Thursday 12th May, whereas I’m notified Saturday 14th’s do at the Town Hall will be a “pipe and slippers rave,” of which I had to inquire if, as it sounds, it’ll be an old skool DJ rave type thing, and this it was confirmed, “that’s exactly it.” If they’re calling me, now they’re mocking; the feet in my slippers were stomping in mud when you were an itch, whippersnappers! “Honey, where’s my whistle and white gloves?”

Sheffield’s award-winning finger-style guitarist, Martin Simpson breathes some folk to the Pump on Friday 20th May, while the Town Hall blow cobwebs off with Trowbridge’s own hardcore metal quartet, Severed Illusions. With nine years under their belts, they opened for Hed PE at the now defaulted Beirkeller in Bristol, and played metal festivals’ assemblage M2TM. Joined by doomcore fourpiece Eyesnomouth, and Salisbury’s screaming metalcore Next Stop Olympus; that’s going to go off.

The Lost Trades

From here gigs are pencilled in, June sees Martin Carthy, Jon Amor with Kyla Brox, Hip Route and Billy & The Low Ground feature, but be certain the near-future looks bright and varied for Trowbridge’s live music scene, particularly as the last gig of May is our beloved folk-harmony trio The Lost Trades on Saturday 28th. Bring in the summer with Graham Steel’s award-winning Phil, Jamie and Tamsin, what more could you ask for?


Trending….

Wiltshire Council Whack Up Parking Charges

It took only a couple of hours at a Wiltshire Council meeting yesterday, to decide punishing drivers would be the order of day; they intend to whack up parking charges an extra 10p per hour, and enforce blue-badged disabled drivers to cough up too…...

Free Sunday parking and Town Council’s free event parking will also be a thing of the past, as the conservative-led council voted in favour of the proposals.

Liberal Democrats called for the amendment to be scrapped, while Wiltshire Council leader Richard Clewer called it “economic illiteracy” and “morally bankrupt.” Apparently,it’s all part of our town centres’ “transformation.” Cllr Clewer claimed the Conservative administration “has a clear plan for the future of our towns,” continued to slag off the Lib Dems’ for their “lack a coherent strategy,” and accused them of “playing politics for short-term gains.”

So, there you go, online shoppers, let’s say a prayer for our High Streets, as we once knew them…..


Devizine 4 Julia’s House; Volume 2 in the Pipeline, Need Your Help!

I’m delighted to transfer £186.46 over to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices today, the proceeds to-date of our compilation album; well, I call it an album, but it’s one mahoosive boxset really, a staggering forty-six tracks from local artists and others worldwide who’ve featured somewhere on Devizine in the past.

If you’ve not heard this absolutely stunning Miss World of music before, a virtual Now, That’s What I Call Devizine Music, she’s here for your viewing pleasure, please download your copy, exclusive on Bandcamp, as I feel this site offers the best deal to artists. Once you buy it, it stores in your account cloud, and you have unlimited downloads, so you can put it onto various devices.

Unlike a fundraising event, here is something which will stay in the domain, something you can download whenever you like, and we’ll continue to build a little stash and send it over to this wonderful registered charity once it builds up again. If I’m honest, I’ve been waiting for it to total to a nice round £200 before sending, but attention on the project has waned recently, and it’s been a while.

There are ways I could prompt folk towards it, a poster or flyer campaign would be handy, but I figure, as lots of bands and musicians expressed an interest to be included, after its release, time is nigh to start plotting a second volume.

As we penned all the acts onto an army surplus bag for the front cover, as many students in my era did just this, I thought we’d do similar this time. So, see our old school desk below, eerily free of graffiti? It is aching for me to inscribe your band name or logo onto it, with chewed biro.

You should note we have three tunes for volume 2 already, from Nick Harper, yes, I said Nick Harper, the wonderful Onika Venus, and Marlborough rockers, Catfish. But we need you onboard too. I envision it being entirely new artists, so if you contributed a track to volume one, I sincerely thank you, but unless you’re absolutely bursting with enthusiasm to forward a second song, let’s try to compile a whole new set of artists.

What got to me last time, was the unexpected amount of work I’d set myself. There was me, at the beginning, thinking I’d just be bobbing about, enjoying the ride, while our contributing artists did all the hard labour!

It occurred to me at the time, I’d likely raise better funds riding through town in a bathtub full of cold baked beans, and while I’ve certainly not scrubbed the idea, I would like this compilation project to build into a series, really prompting and promoting the best of the music we feature on Devizine, and giving the good folk out there a sampler of what great music there is, as well as raising funds for such a brilliant charity; it’s a double-whammy. Ergo, sending us a song will put you straight onto the good list!

So, I ask, if you want to contribute a song, please bear with, and I’ll be back in touch as soon as possible, but last time I was inundated. Streamlined, that’s the key here, so I’ve set out some guidelines to contributing below.

Firstly, we NEED original songs, NO COVERS, not even Chas & Dave ones, as copyright is a minefield. You must own the rights to the song, or have permission from everyone who owns the rights to it, and you MUST TELL ME THIS, see the form at the bottom.

Secondly, please remember this is a children’s charity, and while Julia’s House has been accepting of all the styles and content, really, I don’t want songs with unsuitable themes, or constant bad language. Willing to accept the odd naughty word, and extreme content should be avoided, thanks.

Thirdly, any genre is fine; I want to get a real cross-section of sounds, no pigeonholing. While some chose to record an exclusive song, and that was great, all I ask is for an album track or outtake not currently doing the rounds, but you’re free to choose whatever one suits you best.

Fourthly, there is NO DEADLINE set as of yet, but I will email you once one is decided; please do not wait for the deadline if you can help it; last time I got confused where I stood on so many promised contributions, and it doesn’t take a lot of confuse me.

And, oh fifthly, if that’s not already too much to take in already?! Please ensure you include how you’d like the song to be listed, i.e. Name of Artist and Song. Sounds rather obvious, but also, if I don’t know you already, send some links to websites, social media, and a short bio too!

You can copy and paste this passage below into an email, fill in the dotty bits, and send it to me at devizine@hotmail.com – attach a WAV file format of the song you’d like me to add, and wait patiently for a reply; I look forward to hearing your song; you flipping superstar, you!

I, (FULL NAME) confirm I’m the full copyright holder of the track (ENTER SONG NAME) or that I have contacted any other parties which holds rights to the track and have gained their permission also. 

I hereby grant Darren Worrow of Devizine, my permission to use it as part of the 4 Julia’s House Volume 2 compilation album, fundraising for Julia’s House. Registered Charity Number 1067125. I also agree to allow clips of the track to be used for promotional purposes of the album mentioned above only.

In turn, Darren Worrow and Julia’s House maintain the artist of the track reserves all rights to the track, and it is only used in conjunction with the aforementioned album.

(If you have PRS details, Tunecode or ISWC, please add them.)


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Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?

Pushed forward to Mayday bank hols, who’s getting excited about Devizes International Street Festival? I am, I always am, it’s been the best weekend of … Continue reading “Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?”

Midlife Krisis Rave in Milkfloat!

Simply because, with a bit of grammatical jiggery-pokery, the name of their sound system crew abbrevates to MiLK, Swindon’s cheeky ravers, Mid Life Krisis, rolled up to premier music venue, Old Town’s Victoria with a mock-milkfloat DJ box on Saturday night!

Personally, this is simply too serious not to blog about. Have they thought to stop, and consider the implications of their actions, I ask you? Milkmen are the fourth emergency service, ergo impersonating them equates to impersonating a police officer!

Think, guys, think; you ever hear anything about Benny Hill these days? Where is he now, huh?

I’m deeply offended, and suggest if they want to be milkmen, they break out their glowsticks, get up before their rave is over and start putting some bottles on some old ladies’ doorsteps!

Seriously though, because I occasionally do serious, big respect to Mid Life Krisis for their inventive skullduggery. I’ve seen similar from a long, fragmented memory of the cheeky chaps of Skint Records’, Bentley Rhythm Ace, who not only abbreviates as BRA, they used a Bentley frontage as their DJ booth; but never as a milkfloat, and that is in itself, bloody awesome.

Could I suggest, like Bra, you get some windscreen wipers that move to the music?

Just beware of those gurning gold tops!


Against the Grain; Ruzz Guitar at Thirty

South West’s resident Johnny B Goode, Ruzz Evans celebrates his thirtieth birthday with the release of a live album, Against the Grain. I caught up with him for a quick reminisce, and chinwag about the album……

As suggested, it was recorded at Frome’s Cheese & Grain on 19th June 2021, postponed due to lockdown. Such dynamic and regenerating conditions really breath atmosphere into this album, and it captures the mood of a band excited to re-emerge from isolation. Though by now, we’ve come to expect excellence from Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue as standard.

Featuring tracks from the band’s previous releases it also includes tracks from Ruzz Guitar’s recent video series “RG Sessions.” It’s uniquely delivered blues, RnB, rock n roll fusion with feelgood big band vibes, often frenzied and danceable, lengthy moments of extraordinarily proficient jamming, yet, like Longing to See You on this album, there’s always time for a concentrated ballad.

And oh my, if there isn’t Ruzz doing a sublime guitar solo of Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World, then joking about breaking a fingernail, but the complimenting talent behind the man is second to none. Blues Revue drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Graham Nicholls on rhythm guitar, with a horns section of Michael Gavaghan on sax, Jack Jowers on trumpet and trombonist Will Jones, and special guests’ incredible vocalist and pianist Pete Gage, who is fast becoming part of the furniture, and breathes real gritty delta blues ambience into the collective, along with sublime harmonica by Jerry Tremaine, who simply wows on Baby, Scratch My Back.

Seriously, this is eight hard-earned pounds well spent. I’d say it’s better than the previous live album, Live at the Louisiana, we fondly reviewed a couple of years ago; Ruzz agrees, a quietly proud perfectionist, I figure.

But I want to get deeper into the psyche of the frontman, find out what drives him, when and how he first picked up that instrument. Firstly though, on this new release, I had to compliment the aforementioned Wonderful World solo. “That reaction is what I was aiming for,” he replied, “I wanted to bring something new to the table and challenge myself. I’m really happy that it came across as I wanted!”

Just checking this recording at the Cheese & Grain was the first live show they did after lockdown, Ruzz confirmed it was, “we had done an online set back in August 2020, and one small gig before all the lockdowns came back in heavier. That show was our first, full band show since the Devizes Rugby Club gig in March.” Ah, yes, what a way to go out that was!

Treated of a number of streams during lockdown, I asked if they considered continuing them. “Definitely. I’ve been trying to think of the right events to live stream to anyone who can’t make it in person (I.e., my international audience). I want the streams to be more than just me sat at home with my guitar all the time,” Ruzz chuckled. “I want it to be as much an experience for people watching the stream as for the people at the live event.”

Jogged my memory of a great stream from his garden, and though it was strange at first, seeing musicians in their home, on their sofas, some even with washing on a clotheshorse in the background, some made an effort to avert from the standard; I recalled Jon Amor climbing out onto his roof like a 5th Beatle! Ruzz laughed, “Jon had some great ones!”

Jon Amor. Image: Nick Padmore

This is Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue’s seven album, and out of them there’s three live ones, including Visual Radio Arts in 2018. Does he think he projects best when live, rather than a studio?

“I love working on music in the studio, but yes, I think this sort of music is best experienced live,” Ruzz answered, though I suspected as much. “It wasn’t a conscious plan to do three live recordings but I can honestly say that this new one is my favourite by far. I feel the band is playing better than ever. I’m always trying to capture that magic on our recordings, whether it’s in the studio or live.”

I wished him a happy birthday and counted it an ideal opportunity to trace his past and discover the very beginnings of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue.

“My dad and youngest brother play music,” he answered my family connection to music question. “I got my start into live guitar playing through my dad. Back when I was 16, he put a band together to feature me on guitar; I haven’t looked back since!”

The first time he picked up a guitar? “When I was 15. I had started on bass and drums, around 14, but was shown a George Thorogood DVD and then taken to see him live. After that I decided to learn slide guitar, then Jimmie Vaughan and Brian Setzer came along, and the rest is history.”

Ruzz at 20!

I wondered if they commonly had requests for cliché rock n roll hits, imagining drunk punters asking for Heartbreak Hotel or That’ll be the Day, but would Ruzz appease such appeals, and in that, did it start out this way. “I have played all of those in various rockabilly bands over the years; great tunes, but maybe not quite right for the current band!”

Originals is what you get with Ruzz Guitar, outstanding ones, yet he cites the blues, RnB artists as influences; Dr Feelgood, The Fabulous Thunderbirds. “I try to take from many places,” he laughed, “Wilko Johnson, BB King, Reverend Horton Heat, Steve Cropper; to name a few.”

Anticipated responses, so I thought I’d throw a curveball for the finale. I use the urban myth of Hendrix taking his guitar everywhere, to my kids, as a testament to dedication, and how hard you must strive to perfect something, any goal you might have. It was reported Hendrix took it to the toilet. I asked Ruzz what drives that dedication in him, but not before inquiring if he too, took his guitar to the loo!

He chuckled at this, and for the record answered, “I haven’t gone that far!”

“In all honesty I don’t know. It’s just something that’s felt right since I started learning. It’s been the one constant in my life since I was 15. There’s nothing more enjoyable to me than learning more with it, writing my own music and standing up in front of a group of people and taking them on a musical journey with me… it’s just what I was meant to do with my life.”

Well, at just thirty he’s certainly achieved it, this album is proof. He signed off with “hope to catch up in Devizes in March!” And there’s a thing, 12th March the Wiltshire Blues and Soul Club are indeed at the Corn Exchange with Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue headlining, which we’ve already previewed, here.

The live performance from the Cheese & Grain can be seen on YouTube for a limited time, here.


And Yes, Ruzz Guitar does feature on our compilation album, all in aid of Julia’s House; please download a copy here

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Get Tickets NOW for Devizes Festival of Winter Ales

Next weekend folks, you should know the drill by now, but being Friday sessions had to be cancelled and those tickets transformed into Saturday ones, tickets for Saturday’s afternoon and evening sessions are virtually sold out for The Devizes Winter of Festival Ales. You need to sort your tickets out now, if you want to go, or be left sobbing in the Market Place carpark!

So, just a quick post from me, as this event sells itself anyway, but it is a vital fundraising bash for DOCA, and always a great shindig.

Saturday evening sees The Rob Lear Band providing the entertainment, and the afternoon session will be The Lost Trades; say no more, aside the vast selection of ales on offer.

If you’re as lucky as Charlie Bucket, these golden tickets can be found online at the DOCA website, or at Devizes Books, Wadworth Visitors Centre and of course the Vaults, as Stealth Brewery put on this show… but I urge you get a pace on!

Youth candidates prepare to take their seats following successful election campaign

Taken from the Wiltshire Council press release, this is such promising news we simply had to pinch it……..

Almost 5,000 votes were cast across the county, as forty one young people from across Wiltshire are preparing to take their seats on the first ever Wiltshire Youth Council, following a successful election campaign.

89 candidates from 21 schools and the local community took part in the election process with almost 5,000 votes cast across the county. The elections ran from 31 January to 4 February and young people voted online via their school to selected their preferred candidate.

The successful candidates were informed this week and now are being advised of the next steps to having their say in local democracy. A total of 4972 student voted across the county.

Wiltshire Youth Councillors will:

  • Meet up with Wiltshire Council leaders and have their say on local decisions.
  • Work with area boards to ensure funding for youth projects has the right impact for them and their peers.
  • Inspect services to ensure they represent young people’s best interests.
  • Communicate with their peers so young people’s views are properly represented.
  • Opportunity to shadow council leaders as a shadow youth cabinet member for a particular area of interest.

Youth councillors will be asked to commit one evening per month to attend a full youth council meeting, which will focus on issues important to the young people. They will also be expected to talk to their peers about the issues and represent their views. There will also be training to support them in their roles, covering topics including debating, running a youth inspection and delivering presentations.

Wiltshire Youth Council has also recruited Special Advisors, these are young people that ensure that the views of the  underrepresented are heard. There will be Special Advisors that champion different causes such as young carers, children in care, LGBTQ+ young people and military families.  

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “Congratulations to everyone who took part in this process and well done to those who were successfully appointed. Having your voice to champion causes which are important to you and your peers is key to our work and I look forward to working with you in the future.”

Lily and Dennis are the Wiltshire Youth Councillors for John of Gaunt School in Trowbridge.

Lily, aged 13, said she’d wanted to put herself forward to campaign for a number of areas including equality and environmental issues. She said: “I’m very happy to be selected. I’m most looking forward to helping people in my new role.”

Dennis, aged 11 said: “There are so many problems in the community and I wanted to do something about them instead of waiting for someone else to do something. I didn’t expect to win the election because I don’t know many people the same age as me going for election so I was surprised but happy to be successful.”

You can also follow the child and youth voice team on Facebook  (6) Wiltshire Youth Union | Facebook and Instagram Wiltshire Youth Union (@wiltshireyouthunion) • Instagram photos and videos.


Johnny2Bad Returned to Devizes for UB40 Extravaganza

Crime detecting asset or invasion of privacy opinions aside, The CCTV fundraiser at The Exchange nightclub in the basement of Devizes Corn Exchange went off with a reggae boom last night, when UB40 tribute Johnny2Bad paid a visit, and you know me, on the rare occasion reggae comes to town I want in on it!

We covered the reason for the campaign in a preview post, concentration should focus on the visiting band today, who were fantastic. Aside witticisms of “the Bin” too, for though it’s been a while since I descended those stairs, (and the first time sober!) the décor is updated and comfy, the crowd and staff hospitable, the drinks affordable for a nightclub, but most importantly, it retains its aged amphitheatre setup, functional, with seating boxing in a dancefloor and the bar rearward across the back wall; it works.

Though with a wide-range of disco classics, resident DJ Flash (no, not the NYC grandmaster one!) appeased the wide-spanning demographic of the audience, many regulars while others reggae devotes here for the particular show, anticipation was focussed on the Birmingham band Johnny2Bad, who bounced on stage close to ten o’clock and didn’t pause for breath.

The tribute act scene is vast and blossoming into a mass market, some pub venues pledge allegiance and rarely book original acts. Yet you take the rough with the smooth, I find when they’re bad, they’re excruciatingly bad, but when they’re good you’re in for a blinding night of retrospection, and they drive punters to the bar. Research paramount for event coordinators, picking badly will tarnish all tribute acts with the same brush, for the individual.

There was a couple down the Bin last night who travelled up from Portsmouth, and while I don’t doubt, they liked UB40, he wasn’t wearing a UB40 T-shirt, he was wearing a Johnny2Bad one. Keen to cast an exceptional appraisal of the band to me prior to their performance, any engagement mentioning the band they’re attributing didn’t get such a positive response; he was here to see Johnny2Bad, rather than a UB40 tribute act, and the relevance of this point is evident in said performance.

For Johnny2Bad waiver in and out of a tribute to UB40 and staging a show within their own right, yet it blends so utterly perfectly. At times, such as the sublime mimicking of “If it Happens Again,” and Holt’s “Homely Girl,” the first real glimpses of a UB40 tribute, it shone in acknowledgement to the reggae virtuosos, whereas in other moments you were not mistaken this was also a band within their own right.

And what a band; the refined entertainment value was exceptional, as this blending left you guessing what was next. I put it to frontman Mitch Thomson, rather than simply drone out a setlist of UB40 hits, they added elements, such as visual banter or reprises of other songs, such as Marley’s Small Axe at the beginning, and Mungo Jerry’s in the Summertime, to make it exciting. He agreed, suggesting they liked to make a show of it.

And Mitch is indeed a showman, rather than resembling Ali Campbell visually, though at times his voice captured that forced Brummie-patois fusion perfectly, he was his own man, lively and confident, amusing and alluring to the fairer sex! The proficiency of the band complimented this, tight-knit and adroitly professional they blessed the Exchange with the soulful sound of roots reggae which inspired UB40, occasionally subtle drifts into a more contemporary dancehall style, but majorly readapting the known classics.

I also wanted to gage Mitch about differences they experience when playing in their hometown, being UB40 is pride of Birmingham and respected above all things there. Are they driven to cover rarer, album tracks, for example when playing to a crowd of serious UB40 aficionados? Mitch was keen to express he liked UB40’s older, and often slower repertoire, but while it made little difference if they were in their mutual hometown as UB40, or not, they aimed to play to the crowd. And in this case, as I’m sure many others too, the crowd would demand the hits, which, post Red, Red Wine, are, it has to be said, mostly covers of reggae classic themselves.

Though Johnny2Bad slipped in some I’d consider lesser hits, such as One in Ten, with every tune they did it was of such exceptional quality, you know what, none of these technicalities really matter in the scheme of things. Mitch expressed shows as far away as Holland and Germany were incredibly well received, suggesting they “showed us up,” assuming he meant either Brits in general, or Brummies.

If I had reservations about the band name, taken from the Slickers’ 1970 Jamaican hit “Johnny Too Bad,” a personification of a Kingston rude boy gangster referenced in The Harder They Come, movie, although UB40 did cover it, many others did too, and UB40’s version was never a hit. Perhaps that’s the point in picking a rarer cover as namesake, because while Johnny2Bad are in essence a tribute act, there’s something of their own merit inclusive, and that part is equal to the overall excellence of their act; either that or I’m overthinking it, and they just liked the name!

Importantly, they bought the show with them, and torn down the house; a remarkable achievement from an accomplished act, tribute or not. Fourth wall breaking moments, such as the singer dropping offstage to sing among the crowd cliché, perhaps, but for the brass section to do likewise was something else. How often are you on the Exchange’s dancefloor, or any dancefloor come to think of it, with a trombonist playing next to you?! For me, as a reggae-ska lover who knows brass is class, that was the icing on the cake of a thrilling and professionally entertaining show.

As I’ve discovered through Legend, the Bob Marley tribute, and more recently, the Blondie tribute Dirty Harry, and now these guys, their excellence will turn any preconceptions of tribute acts on their heads; Johnny2Bad is an unmissable show; if it happens again you need to be there!


Yes, Johnny2Bad feature on our compilation album in collaboration with Big Ship Alliance, and all funds go to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices; click here to buy it!

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School Children Penalised for Absence Due to Self-Isolating, Why?

Tuesday’s article kicked up a stink on local social media groups, quite literally. They’re still on the subject of dog poo, I’ve moved onto something else now, mate. Something which doesn’t seem to have kicked up quite the fuss I believe it should, and that notion in itself is as symbolic as the issue is to my concluding paragraphs.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Your kid comes home from school with a reprimanding letter, informing you their attendance has been low this year. You pause for recollection, certain the only time they were absent from school was when they had to self-isolate due to a positive covid test.

So, is it just me thinking, why are our children being penalised for obeying the regulations, the law? Why has self-isolating been included as absence due to sickness and reflected badly on their attendance record?

It’s at this point I’m aiming daggers at Devizes School’s new headmaster Julian Morgan, sizing him up and considering meeting him round the back of the science block for, what my offspring informs me the contemporary slang currently is, “a bit of tea;” don’t ask, it was always “spoiling for a rumble,” to me!

However, a reply is despatched from his personal Twitter account, in response to my query and sternly put point that it all “seems rather unfair.” Julian agreed with me, suggesting “it does seem really unfair,” which has to be the first time in my near fifty years I’ve seen eye-to-eye with a headmaster!

Turns out, he’s alright by my book, explaining, to get himself off the hook, “attendance criteria are set by the Department of Education, and its statutory that schools follow the government guidance. I think the government want a comprehensive picture of how Covid is impacting school attendance, and I suppose this is the only real way of doing it.”

Thank you for setting me straight, Mr Morgan, sir, put that cain back, it’s a national issue, I wrote it out a hundred times on the blackboard. I also followed this by penning an email to our supercilious man in parliament, Mr Danny Kruger, and surprise, surprise, the expected failed to hit me between the eyes; to date he felt it pointless to respond. Because, you know, it’s not like he’s our democratically voted voice in government, or that we pay his wages or anything silly like that. I’m sure after digesting this he might have some smug reply which we’ll think ourselves honoured and edit in accordingly…yeah, for sure.

Ruffle my hair, apologise, getting on with more “important things” is the order of the day, it seems, in Westminster. Level up this….

It would’ve been nice to hear from our Monday’s child, fair of face, being it’s the British Cross Children’s Mental Health Week, and if I’m honest, this, I feel, is a small piece in a larger jigsaw, that basically suggests we treat our youth worse than a turd on our lawn. You want kids to be free of mental health issues, start treating them with an ounce of respect, might be a small start, start cutting them some slack. They are not slugs on your lettuce patch, a colony of ants marching across your kitchen lino. They are not a single-minded infestation; they are the ones who will be ruffling the pillows of your sickbed.

I’m still in the dark at how the government will gain a “comprehensive picture of how Covid is impacting school attendance,” if other absences are included under the same marking, but ponder if it would’ve taken too much expertise to divide a spreadsheet with a new column, so that the government could have an even clearer indication, and children wouldn’t be penalised for basically obeying the law. Or what? I am asking too much now? Can we not invest in a Microsoft Excel workshop for these unfortunate parliament office staff, Nadhim?

But of the larger jigsaw, depends on if you like social media, or not. An impossible subjective question, for all the keyboard warrior bigotry and hatred you’ll shamelessly find posted, there’s rays of sunshine mainstream media simply won’t scoop. Like the other day on one of our local Facebook groups, where the family of an elderly lady who dropped her purse posted a photo of two hoodie teenagers on her doorstep, with a story of how, after the lady dropped her purse, these two juvenile hoodlums swept it up, cracked it open, found her address and walked the length of the town to deliver it back to her.

Yet random acts of kindness like this don’t sell newspapers, drama through crime does, and watch the plethora of negativity flow, tarnishing an entire generation for a few wayward youths in the comments of such shared news reports. How they all need stringing up, how they’re all the same, how things looked so different back when you were young, through your rose-tinted specs.

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” Affix caps-lock, subtract grammar and educated thought, and you’d be fooled to think I found this on a local Facebook group post about door-kicking Tik-Tokers, rather than a Socrates quote from 300 B.C-ish; what a Tory twot!

Or how about, “Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land, and don’t criticize, what you can’t understand, your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’, please get out of the new one, if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’,” which was written about your parents?! Face it, it is not a problem with youth of today, it’s a problem with a minority of youth, historically.

UK School Student’s Strike; 1985

In a politically correct era striving for equality, ageism seems exempt, when in my honest opinion it is the crassest, most hypocritical form of all prejudges, being most of us at some point will be the age being targeted! And if you are currently within that target, I’ll let you know a top adult secret, kids; the majority of your parents, your grandparents, and their grandparents behaved in manners far worse than you could possibly fathom, but they choose to forget for the sake of the benefits of whinging; guiltlessness, and to make them feel better about their own wayward past.

And while I’m on honest opinion, I ask you think back to your own fondest memories and wager you were aged similarly, recall what you did, how you partied, celebrated and relished your youthful life. Then think what this generation has been through, what they’ve sacrificed; what you consider your warmest times, to prevent the spread of a pandemic.

They have sacrificed their golden years; they have foregone more than any generation since World War Two. Meanwhile, their influencers are hardly setting a good example, from walking into a supermarket and noting the majority of folk still wearing facemasks are the elderly and the youngsters, to footballers kicking cats to members of parliament who thought the Ministry of Sound was a real government department.   

For crying out loud on Instagram, the idea of penalising students for poor attendance due to obeying the law came from Bullingdon bully leaders who danced on the graves of the infected, whose age should’ve caused them to know better, but their sheer ignorance prevented them. To have had their golden years of trashing Oxford student unions halls and priceless art, burning money in front of the homeless, and other classy schoolboy acts of defiance, but still partied carelessly away today, while the rest of us suffered, and no more than our very own youth, who to dare enjoy themselves came with a ten thousand pound fine, while the regime got away with the insincere apology of a toddler. And you tell the kids to grow up and act responsibly?!

I urge you respond, Danny K, tell me you will nudge Nadhim Zahawi, wake him up and tell him to revise this appalling crime, by simply backtracking and marking students’ absence with a degree of respect for how they obeyed the law, while your bum-chums clearly don’t.


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Folk Festival to Return to Chippenham’s Streets

After two years of being restricted by the global pandemic, Chippenham Folk Festival returns in person this Spring with three internationally renowned headline acts among its highlights.….

Over the past five decades, Chippenham Folk Festival has become a mainstay of the local events calendar, with people travelling from destinations far and wide to sample some of the greatest British and international folk artists.

For many local residents, it is what the second May Bank Holiday weekend is reserved for. However, as with events around the world, the festival has been hit by the effects of the global pandemic. In 2020, there was no festival, and in 2021 the team could only run a pared back virtual version of the event.

This year, however, plans are in place to bring it back to Chippenham’s streets and venues to give people a much-needed lift. The festival  is planned for 27-29 May 2022, so get the date in your diary.

What’s on?

A host of acts have already been booked with the line led by the three headlining artists:

Belshazzar’s Feast

Acclaimed musicians Paul Sartin (oboe, violin, swanee whistle and vocals) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion) are notorious for their superlative ability, wit, rapport and depth of experience, creating a concert to remember.

3 Daft Monkeys

With a fiery helter-skelter blend of influences from east and west, 3 Daft Monkeys inject a unique wildness into their music, producing a symphonious cacophony of styles.

3 Daft Monkeys (yes, you can count, there is four of them. Maybe that’s the “daft” part?!)

Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have long established themselves as one of the UK folk scene’s rewardingly enduring partnerships. Always bold and innovative, they mix traditional song arrangements with their self-penned material that reels from the bitter to the sweet, the wry to the sad, the political to the passive

There will be many many more exceptional acts in venues around the town during the course of the weekend.

As well as these fantastic concerts there will, as usual, be:

  • folk dance events
  • ceilidhs
  • family events and workshops
  • free events and morris displays through the high street
  • arts and crafts
  • street market.

Dedicated to traditional English dance and music

Chippenham Folk Festival Chairman Torquil Macinnes said, “not only does Chippenham Folk Festival offer an extremely high calibre of artists, but it is dedicated to traditional English dance and music.

“What sets it apart from other events is its opportunities for participation and education. It truly is a social occasion.

“It is for this reason that the global pandemic has hit us so hard. We are interactive. We need to be face to face with the people of Chippenham and beyond. I am delighted, therefore, that we are going full steam ahead to bring the event back to the streets of Chippenham in 2022.”

A crucial few weeks

As live, in-person events slowly continue to make their way back, audiences and organisers are understandably cautious. While the festival team is working around the clock to make the event happen, the next few weeks are crucial for its fate.

Torquil continued, “we have an absolutely brilliant team of organisers, made up entirely of volunteers. They are doing everything in their power to bring the festival back to the people of Chippenham and the thousands of visitors we get every year.

“However, with uncertainty around live events still rife, we do have a cut-off point by which we must have reached a certain sales target to guarantee it will happen

“With the fantastic lineup we already have, we are very confident it will go ahead, but we need to ask people to consider buying their tickets a little earlier than usual to make sure of it.”

Book your place now

Early bird tickets have already sold out for this year’s event, and tier 1 weekend tickets are on sale now. These offer a saving of almost 15% off the full ticket price.

Tickets are available at https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/tickets-2022/ and are fully refundable if the event cannot go ahead in light of any changes in the COVID-19 restrictions.

Get involved

The festival is entirely reliant on a dedicated army of brilliant volunteers all who give up their time and provide their skills and expertise to the event free of charge. There are many different ways in which you can get involved. We need:

  • stewards
  • tradespeople
  • set designers and builders
  • radio comms specialists
  • buskers
  • bar staff

To find out how you can get involved, visit https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/get-involved/

Find out more

Keep your eye out on https://www.chippfolk.co.uk/ for further information and lineup updates.


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Devizes Guardians’ Doggie Doo-Doo Bag Dispensers

If the Gazelle & Herod knocked a front page together this week from Facebook discussions about a spate of dog fouling in Devizes, with a frustrated looking Conservative Councillor Iain Wallis about centre, grasping a doggie poo bag, independent party of Devizes Town Council, The Guardians have a suggestion to curb the current controversy; installation of poo bag dispensers in key locations in the town.

Despite some areas of the country, like Ipswich having bulky male vigilantes hilariously dressed as dog poo fairies, all agreed a squad of enforcement officers on patrol was impractical. Iain Wallis, who I’m certain would agree he would look great dressed as a dog poo fairy, suggested in the local rag, “I would like to see the town council set up a task group to gather ideas from the public as to how we can tackle the issue.” Team Dog Poo, we could dub them, arguably apt, you might say, for some members of DTC. But this time, I’m coming to their defense!

Devizes Guardian Councillors Mrs Bridewell and Mrs Burton think the problem might be overcome, at least in part, by offering the bags in dispensers, located in key areas, including Hillworth Park, Brickley Lane Play Area and The Greens. The option will be discussed at Council’s forthcoming Community and Civic Resources Committee.

I’d sincerely hope its workable, but I’m a realist; plus, it’s hardly environmentally friendly. A wide range of reusable doggie poo solutions are available, dog owners only need to Google it and take some responsibility for their pets, and their planet alike. Which while a majority do bag-up, they still tend to use disposable bags, ergo dumping a turd in a bush is actually reducing their carbon footprint; the council could encourage them to break their wallet out and buy a reusable poo bag, because finding a practical solution is a minefield.

Concern is, if this trend continues it’ll become the norm and we’ll rearward to the watch-your-step era of the seventies and eighties, where if you grew up in this time, you’ll recall the fetid white dog poo lining our streets, and brown snowballs being the single most vicious weapon of a snowball fight; is that what you really want? Brown snowball in the chops?

Give a man a doggie poo bag dispenser and you’ll supply a solution for a day, teach the idiot to pick up after his mutt and you’ll avoid non-dog owners complaining why they should fork out their council tax because of the contempt of certain dog owners. Not forgoing, I’d fear bored pranksters, likely the TikTok door-kicker brigade with all the brains of an amoeba, tugging them out of the dispenser for so-called amusement, and we’d have empty dog poo bags flying in the air, and you’d likely step in a turd trying to avoid them; you can’t train stupid, neither can a council.

The Gov site encourages you to shop a dog fouler to your county council, here, this being the only sensible method to report it, but a proactive resolution is another thing. Because, the real solution is so radical it defies all reason, and it’s called a sense of moral obligation, to pick up your doggie’s doings. Yet that’s not something any council can undertake successfully; it is up to the individual.

Thing is, do not sigh and assume you’re living in some degenerating hellhole, most do pick up their doggie doings around here, and the problem is nationwide, not lone to Devizes, probable worse in other areas. But it relies on a common-sense of decency; something seriously lacking in the chosen few who deem themselves above picking up their dog poo, if this is you, I’ve a message for you, don’t get a bloody dog!


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