Devizes LGBTQ+ Group’s First Big Event

Formed a year ago, the Devizes LGBTQ+ group have organised several meet ups, but the time is nigh for their first big event, Drag Bingo at The Exchange on Thursday 30th June.….

I know this is something the group, and Oberon, better known as Gabriella Christmas, has been trying to organise for a while now. “Yes,” he delights to tell me, “it’s awesome to finally have our first big event.”

An 18+ event, there will also be a raffle with multiple different prizes, including a canal boat trip for two. Tickets are £5, Raffle £1 a strip, £1 for an extra game. Some bingo dabbers will be available to buy on the night, if you need one.

Doors open @ 7:30pm with an estimated finishing time of 10:00pm. There is the potential for music for an hour afterwards.

To buy tickets, please contact the Facebook page or, alternatively, purchase them from Morrisons Devizes. CASH ONLY.


Saddleback Back!

In July 2019, straight after the Devizes Rugby Club’s Saddleback Festival, they announced July 11th 2020 for their next festival, but we all know the rest of that sad story. Since 2017 the club organised an annual Saddleback, named after Devizes Rugby team’s nickname, and the event quickly gained an outstanding reputation for bringing some quality acts to Devizes….

If I’m honest, being they held off during 2021, with tears from the memories of a great local all-dayer in my complimentary beer cup, I thought we’d seen the back of Saddleback. For want of repeating the same gag, coordinator Rick Kibby tells me, “We thought it was about time we brought the Saddleback Festival back!” And Saturday 18th June, 2022 marks the very day, at Devizes Rugby Club from 2pm, until late.

There was me thinking this cup was an emblem of a long lost Devizes festival!

Originally dedicated to blues, though the tag might’ve been dropped to allow more scope over the pre-lockdown years, blues is very much the mainstay, which is bound to satisfy Devizes aficionados, as local blues legends Jon Amor & King Street Turnaround, and Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue welcomingly headline; say no more.

The slightly more pop-rock acoustic, though with a definite hint of blues, Joe Hicks is also on the line-up. We love Joe here at Devizine, a true class act, prolific and generally all-round nice guy! Check out his latest offering double A-side, One More Step.

The other acts are new to me, which is all good, bit of well sourced mystery and all that. The drifting acoustic goodness of No Manz Land. Bristol’s big, stomping disco sound of Carolyn McGoldrick, retro-rock with Matt Peach, the beguiling Artic Monkey’s fashioned Public Eye, and the The Best of Ratcat, of which I’ve no info on, think of them as the wildcard!

But the real change for Saddleback is the side project, Lottiefest, as while the festival has always had a charity fundraiser base, this is the first time it has incorporated another festival in its title. “Lottiefest is in memory of Lottie,” Rick explained, “who was the daughter of one of our members who suffered from Ataxia, and the Lily Foundation raises funds for the fight against mitochondrial disease.” Lottie Rapson was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of 6, and sadly passed away aged just 27 in December last year.

“She taught us all so many things” the blurb on Saddleback Festival website reveals, “to focus on what you can do rather than worry about what you can’t, to see the good in everyone, to make the most of every day and never walk past an opportunity to do something mad!” And it goes onto explaining how much Lottie loved festivals, “often dragged to bed by her carers in the early hours of the morning.” Therefore Saddleback will be raising for The Lily Foundation and Ataxia UK.

This fitting tribute transcribes into dancing the night away in a club fashion with some carefully selected DJs, Matter, Rappo, Retrospekt, Astral Pipes, who fuse house and intelligent drum n bass into a diversity of dance music, something wholly different from anything we’ve seen at Saddleback before. A welcomed change to shake up the later hours, until 1am.

There’s camping on site, £15 for a tent, £25 for campervan.

You know, I’m so glad to see Saddleback on our event calendar again, the 2018 Battle of the Bands contest really bought to my attention the wealth of talent on our local circuit. I’d just befriended every local musician’s favourite photographer, Nick Padmore, who introduced me to George Wilding, Jamie R Hawkins, Sally Dobson, Jordan Whatley, Jack Moore and Mike Barham. Then, to have them play at the festival was the icing on the cake, really felt like I started something very worthy; they might disagree!

After that unforgettable year seems there was a little communication breakdown, Devizine was to cover the festival, but I wasn’t informed I was invited! Never mind, as now we are all informed; I’m telling you now, The Saddleback is back, and it’s going to be an amazing show right here in Devizes town!

Saddleback is on Saturday 18th June, Tickets start at £30, online here, or from

Devizes Books
Handel House
Sidmouth Street
Devizes
SN10 1LD
Tel – 01380 725944

Avon Trophies
Wharfside
Devizes
SN10 1EB
Tel – 01380 724630

The Peppermill
40 St John’s Street
Devizes
SN10 1BL
Tel – 01380 710407

Professional Books
Old Kingdom Hall
Avon Terrace
Devizes
SN10 2BH
Tel – 01380 820003


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Strong Lady’s Power; DOCA at St Andrews

For personal reasons Strong Lady Charmaine Childs was unable to perform her show, Power at the DOCA Street Festival this year, but came to visit Devizes as a one-off separate show in St Andrew’s Church yesterday, and it was as advertised, inspiring……

I can stagger home from a music gig already with an oven-baked opinion, and have a broad idea of what to write about it. It may take serious grammar corrections if I do jot intoxicated notes down, but the basis is there. Whereas in, as what was essentially street theatre, it takes a little time and reflection for what I just witnessed to fully sink in; that’s certainly the case with Power.

Often the fascinating world of street theatre DOCA artistic director Loz Samuels brings to us is abstract, provocative, and most importantly for our market town, completely off the wall. A Strong-Lady conjures ideas of circus, of ta-da-da…and-for-my-next-trick-type acts, of which Charmaine was keen to elucidate the roots of her talent lie there. But this was different, this was theatre, and it had an enthralling narrative.

There was no big top, crazy clown costumes, blinding stage lights, in-your-face effects, and shows of acrobatic talent were minimal, in context. There was only, at first what might appear somewhat disappointing to those in want of dazzling mainstream spectacles, just a fortysomething Australian lady in gym shorts and vest carry two tote bags of house-bricks.

I mean, yeah, props expanded to some books, planks and two wallpaper stands, but that was all you were getting. Yet, through charisma, magnetism and skill she weaved an autobiographical tapestry with audio excerpts taken from other’s personal reflections on the subject of times they felt, or didn’t feel powerful, of which she had collected on her journey, and visually created an act of tragedy, comedy, and thoughtful prose which was itself, powerful.

If there were feminine connotations, they were subtle, the message was neutral on every level, open to all. The idea we all have it within ourselves to overcome mental obstacles and have the power to continue, was prominent, though other angles like attaining power through success was touched upon, as Charmaine opened up her story, and related the recorded ones accordingly. And for the times when she did perform acts of strength and agility, they were backed with reason and relation to the monologue. She is one strong lady indeedy, yet while there was wasn’t the crowd counting along and drum rolls, these shows of strength were incorporated in such a way as not only to impress, but to provoke an emotion; there is no circus act which does this.

It was indeed something entirely different, and unable to pigeonhole, and for that alone, deserves recognition and commendation. The result was apparently, to leave the audience “energised and hopeful,” and it was indeed a positive catalyst, but more so, it was inspirational, conjuring your own stories of times you were powerful. I reminisced upon two occasions immediately afterwards, and while I could reveal them in interminable yarns, I think you’d rather me get directly to the point. You don’t want me to get all Uncle Albert on you, not on a Friday at any rate!

Needless to say, the stories differ in two basic elements, one was a time when due to a personal tragedy I had to undertake tasks I’d rather have not, nor ever expected I’d need to, whilst retaining a plastic smile, and it was, I guess, the power in me and my love for that person, to have managed. The other is less abstract and more physical, but I did once, in my younger years have one of these massive super-heroics shows of ability, accomplishing a feat I’d never even contemplate attempting, if it hadn’t been for the fact if I didn’t, I could’ve died. Now I know, if you know me, you’re thinking, na, mate, get out of town, but it is true. Now I find myself contemplating which one was more relevant to Power, which show of power was the Strong Lady getting at, mental, physical, or both? But it doesn’t matter, what matters is it got the cogs revolving, it got me mulling it over, and in turn, it evoked personal reflection in its narrative; hence I rightfully call it inspiring.


Charmaine Childs is a Strong Lady touring internationally as an independent artist since 2002. She trained in theatre at university, before focusing on outdoor arts festivals and circus/variety shows; if you get the opportunity to see this show, don’t argue with a strong lady, just go!


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REVIEW – Lovesong @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes – Thursday 26th May 2022

Fabulous Stagecraft!

by Andy Fawthrop

Images used with kind permission of Chris Watkins Media

Been a while since I’d been to our town’s lovely little theatre, and it was a joy to go back again.…..

The occasion was the staging of Abi Morgan’s “Lovesong”. Now I happen to be a fan of Abi Morgan’s writing, and anyone who watched the recent BBC1 three-series drama “The Split” will know exactly what I’m on about. Her catalogue of work in TV, film and live theatre has won plenty of much-deserved critical acclaim. Accordingly, I was very much looking forward to this production, about which I’d heard many positive comments (and which we briefly previewed here at Devizine recently).

Image: Chris Watkins

The play, directed by the talented Freddie Underwood, no stranger to Wharf productions for a few years now, is a tight emotional drama. Starring only four actors – Imogen Riley, Adam Ball, John Winterton and Tor Burt – “Lovesong” tells the story of one couple from two different points in their lives, both as young lovers in their 20s, and as older companions looking back on their lives. Their relationship is reviewed by their past and present selves, blending youthful yearning and optimism with more worldly experience. The start of a youthful relationship blends with an impending death.

I found the production quite mesmerising, captured by the verbal and physical choreography of the piece. The tactile interactions of the two couples (being really the same couple) was offset by their inability to talk to their future or past selves, only their contemporaneous partner. It made for some interesting debates, particularly in the second half, about whether time (and space) is linear, or whether the past, present and future are somehow all fused together. Life events happen, they come and go, but emotions and feelings are far more complex than that.

Image: Chris Watkins

The two younger members of the cast – Imogen Riley and Adam Ball – gave confident and assured performances, looking quite at home on the stage as the younger version of the couple. But it was the elder version of the couple – played by John Winterton (in a rare appearance in front of the audience), and the talented and evergreen Tor Burt – that edged it for me. It may be an age thing, but I found the way that they inhabited their roles quite fascinating. Their concerns, their issues and their undoubted love for each other were conveyed in an utterly convincing performance.

I won’t spoil the ending (and you can see it coming a mile off) but it was pretty heart-wrenching, and there were plenty of weepy eyes in the auditorium to prove it.

For me, this was an ideal type of production to run at the Wharf, given its tight space restrictions on stage. A cast of only four had enough room on a sparsely-dressed stage to actually move and to breathe, and therefore you could concentrate on the words and the action, without your eye being distracted any purely physical/ practical stage constraints in productions with a larger cast.

Image: Chris Watkins

I found the music in the first half slightly distracting, but the balance felt much better in the second half. That minor quibble aside, this was overall a superb production. Starting with Abi Morgan’s tautly-scripted prose, Freddie Underwood’s assured direction, working with four very good actors on stage, and we had the recipe for success. Very highly recommended.

There are still a few tickets left for tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday), so get along to see it if you possibly can. You won’t regret it. Box Office – 03336 663366 or www.wharftheatre.co.uk

Future productions at The Wharf Theatre:

23rd – 26th June The World Under The Wood
19th – 24th September Hedda Garbler
1st October The Lesson (Icarus Theatre Company) – one night only
7th October London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra – one night only


© 2017-2022 Devizine (Darren Worrow)

Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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PREVIEW – 49th Chippenham Folk Festival – Friday 27th to Sunday 29th May 2022

The Boys (And Girls) Are Back In Town!

By Andy Fawthrop


Yes – we know it’s not in Devizes, but it’s just up the road in Chippers – a quick trip in the car or on the exciting ride that is the 33 bus. And Chippenham is one of the biggest (and oldest) folk festivals on the national circuit, and it’s right here in Wiltshire.

Well, it’s been two years since the last proper Chippenham Folk Festival (due to You-Know-What), but at last it’s back again this year. This time it’s been shortened from its traditional three and a half days to just two and a half days, starting on Friday night, a necessary and prudent economic step to keep the event on a sound financial footing for the future, as the traditional audience begin to peek their heads out of their tents and caravans. So we’ve lost the traditional Bank Holiday Monday big parade and street market, so the rest of the programme has been carefully pruned and trimmed to try and fit everything in. Nevertheless there’s still plenty going on.

The festival, if you’ve not been before, runs right across the town and features over 20 venues (from the large Constitutional Hall, the Neeld Hall, the Olympiad, The Town Hall and The Cause through to various pubs and cafes), over a hundred timetabled events, and several streams of entertainment (concerts, ceilidhs, dance, Morris, displays, children’s entertainment, workshops and tutorials, meet-the-artist) – so there really is something for everyone. All the formal events and concerts are entry by ticket (available online or at the Box Office), but there’s plenty of events that are via “the hat” on the day, and many free fringe events too. There’s poetry, there’s story-telling, there’s music of many types. The streets will be filled with Morris Dancers, display teams, musicians and other performers.

Headliners are Belshazzar’s Feast, 3 Daft Monkeys, Sean Fitzpatrick and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, ably supported by folk veterans such as Tom McConville, Keith Donnelly, Si Barron, Bob & Gill Berry and many, many others.
With so much going on, it’s definitely worth the trip up the road from D-Town – you’re bound to find something you like! It’s great value for money – whether a day ticket, or the whole weekend. So go on – get your inner Morris on, and get up the road!

The full timetabled programme, together with plenty of other information, and tickets are all available on the Festival’s website at www.chippfolk.co.uk


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Cookie Cutting with Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst appears at St Johns House in Devizes this Saturday, 27th May, courtesy of Devizes Rotary, for a Ukraine fundraiser, the same day he releases the solo piano album, Cookie Cutter Island [Do you know the way to], of which we’ve taken a sneaky preview of…….

I go to gigs, where the archetypal though talented acoustic musician prior to a headlining full band is kind of diluted by the memory of the band. Such is power in numbers, the combination and bearing of a band, or more so, an orchestra. Yet it takes a special someone who can hold you spellbound in the same manner, solo. But if you’re going to attempt it, piano is your friend.

Akin to a Scott Joplin recital, which you can envision ragtime of yore, of boxcars and trams running through New York’s bustling 19th century streets, Andrew Hurst undoubtedly has that skill to paint a masterpiece with sound.

Another textbook example is film-scoring, though the image is pre-nourished. There was a fascinating series of social media videos where renowned movies had the score taken away, and suddenly the impact is lost; the horror is hardly horrific at all, there is no thrilling suspense in that thriller. Shows how important the music is in film, and in turn the influence music has over us in general.

Andrew Hurst appears at St Johns House in Devizes this Saturday, 27th May, for a Ukraine fundraiser, where multi-instrumental goodness is promised. Yet while Andrew can make a guitar sing, whether filling a concert hall or busking in the Brittox, I’ve a sneaky peek at his strictly piano-based album Cookie Cutter Island [Do you know the way to], which, double-whammy, is released on the same day.

It’s as captivatingly emotive as a film score, and in a way, kind of is. This album is a sketch of music for a potential anime film Andrew has in mind. Now, I’m going to find it somewhere between difficult and impossible to write customary comparisons on this, my knowledge on classical piano is limited, but I know what I like, and that’s my angle! Cookie Cutter Island paints such a picture in one’s mind; a musical dreamcatcher, surreal, pensive and evocative, lingering in suspense and mood.

Andrew describes his vision similar to Disney’s Fantasia, I could argue against this, being Fantasia uses established classics, while Andrew has created his own. “Music first,” he explains, “and the plot came from the owner of Chard Bookshop, who sent a bizarre message; ‘do you know the way to cookie cutter island?’ My reply to her was the flow of the plot, that since has crystallised. Then the music was a case of arriving at the studio every two weeks with “I’ve no idea what I’m doing” but leaving that day with a track I wasn’t “allowed” to revisit: a sort of “enforced creativity” …. though each week later on I couldn’t stop preparing stuff once impetus caught up!”

This bout of when inspiration strikes, has the concentrated oriental narrative of Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the West, with a fantastical and childlike expedition synopsis, involving Mitsuki, following her grandmother’s conspiratorial message to meet on “Cookie Cutter Island.” The tracks follow her progress, as she journeys to this mysterious place.

A fable filled with place-names associated with her mood, which also act as track listings, Temple of Regret, Tower of Fallen Heroes, or Sanctuary at Galaxywatch, the story is awash with samurai folklore, brimming with morals of love and honour. Such is the refined concept, it is an ambitious project, and animation is such a tedious process. Even if this vision doesn’t materialise, you can use the narrative in the sleeve notes, and almost see the animation flowing behind closed eyelids. The music commands this of you; as if I could reach out and immerse in it, at least how I would interpretate the music if I only had the artistic skill it warrants.

If forced to make comparisons, I’d offer movie themes, the Tangerine Dream fashioned Krzysztof Penderecki adaption for the Exorcist Theme immediately springs to mind, though Cookie Cutter Island is more graceful mood than chilling, and shards of Chopin, Schubert and particularly Debussy come into play. It ends on a high note, Bulls of Triangle Bridge is uplifting, and the finale Sanctuary at Galaxywatch precisely as the title suggests. Overall, it needs no visual stimuli, it’s enchanting and inspiring.

Pre-order Cookie Cutter Island [Do you know the way to]

Tickets for The Devizes Rotary Club Ukraine Fundraiser with Andrew Hurst, Saturday 27th May at St John’s House are £15, and include a glass of wine; available here


© 2017-2022 Devizine (Darren Worrow)

Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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Is Devizes Ready for The Strong Lady?!

Featured Photo Credit: Sean Longmore

How strong is strong lady Charmaine Childs? Strong enough to be a circus strong-lady of Strong Lady Productions, and that sounds strong enough for me not to dispute the claim. The good folk of Devizes have the opportunity to find out for themselves, this Thursday, 26th May when Charmaine brings her latest work, Power to St Andrews Church, courtesy of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts.…..

Australian-British artist Charmaine has internationally toured her solo, highly physical circus shows for over twenty years, describing her show as “a playful mix of muscle, comedy, optimism and elegance that invites audiences to reflect on their own strength.” I can confirm now, mine just so happens to be, smell!

“I am passionate about the development of physical, mental and emotional strength,” her bio, which exhausts me just to read, explains, “and the ways they impact on each other.  All my work is dedicated to uplifting and empowering people, creating connection and celebrating diversity.  This has led me to a delightfully wide-ranging arts practice that also includes: creative engagement projects (Stories of Strength), event speaking, teaching and workshop facilitating and producing.”

Yet, intriguingly Power sounds more than circus act, through voice-over soundtrack it has narrative, stories recorded by people talking about their experiences of feeling strong and powerful. These stories are the heart of the work. Their stories intersect with the autobiography of a Strong Lady wrestling with uncertainty.

Initially striving to feel powerful, by being invincible and in control, the show finds its way to accepting the mess of uncertainty and finding strength in the places where we wobble. Trading invincibility for resilience, it celebrates the power we have to choose the next step through the mess. Apparently, this leaves the audience “energised and hopeful,” which is just as well, as I have work early next morning!

Power starts at 7pm and runs without an interval until 8:10pm, giving you twenty minutes to arm-wrestle any gorillas which may be passing by St Johns Street, before a post-show conversation at the Lamb Inn commences at 8:30pm. Tickets are just £5, online, or cash only on the door. See you there, if you think you’re hard enough!


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Half a Review: James Hollingsworth @ The Southgate

It was only a whistle-stop for me at Devizes’ best pub for original live music on Saturday, but long enough to sink a cider and assess; James Hollingsworth is fantastic….

Our roving reporter Andy informed me James is a blessing on the folk circuit, but this occasion, armed with enough loop pedals to make The Southgate’s alcove resemble the Millennium Falcon, he summoned his inner “progness” to embark upon a journey beyond three chords.

A captivating solo show, where pre-recorded backing tracks were not welcome, Frome-based James worked steadily and proficiently through his own compositions, as well as some covers, with complex arrangements built via hand percussion, voice and guitar effects.

James, with additional Southgate’s regular answer to Pan’s People!

Prominsing classics from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, The Beatles, Roy Harper, Jeff Buckley, Marillion and more. If I couldn’t stay for long, because I’m as not as omnipresent as I need to be, I picked out Hendrix’s Castles Made of Sand, and it was sublime.

So, only a quick note to say, for any music lover from folk to prog-rock, from the era of mellowed Flyod-eske goodness, James Hollingsworth works some magic. I’ll be making a bee-line next time he arrives at The Southgate, and so should you!


Sarnie for Her Majesty!

There’s still time to suggest your ideal sandwich filling fit for the Queen! Devizes Food & Drink Festival are hoping for seventy sandwich fillings…..even I couldn’t eat seventy butties, but I never refuse a challenge, if they need a judge!

Lots have been suggested,” they say, “and BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davies was suitably horrified by Jenny’s favourite smoked mackerel and banana.” I’m with Sue on this, see, I love banana but not as a sandwich filling, no, no, no, let alone with mackerel; Jenny walks on the wild side of delicatessens… what about you?!

Though, it has to be said, banana is already a major component of the King’s sandwich. Yep, The Elvis Sandwich really is a thing, a thing of banana, peanut butter and bacon; I’ll leave the building.

They need more, to come up with a list of 70 before judging. It can be exotic, weird, or just plain delicious. Personally I say don’t overthink it, simplicity is key here, Queeny is probably sick to the back teeth with truffle and foie gras, escargot caviar et al. What she craves, I’d wager, is a good ol’ fish finger butty!

Winners receive a prize from the wonderful Jack Spratt sandwich bar in Devizes, and all you got to do is post your suggestion on the Devizes Food & Drink Festival’s Facebook or Instagram pages, to be automatically be entered into the competition. Plus, your sandwich will be made and sold at Jack Spratts, over the Jubilee celebrations.


Indecision’s Final Incursion of Devizes Corn Exchange

The grand finale of popular local covers band, Indecision stormed Devizes Corn Exchange last night, Saturday 21st May, for one last hoorah. A hugely successful turnout in the-hard-to-fill Ceres Hall……

From Seend Beer Festival to Potterne Cricket Club’s, Indecision has been a firm favourite for many-a-year now, playing across the south west from Bromham’s long lost Owl community centre to as far away as Portsmouth, the six-piece Potterne-based band have demanded many to the dancefloor, but last night the time was nigh to say farewells.

Keyboardist Martin Spencer, who also owns Potterne’s Badger Set studio, gave me a never-say-never shrug when I asked him if it was really the end, but for now, he assured me it was.

They came out all guns firing, kicking off with Otis Redding’s Hard to Handle, and preceded to knock out every timeless classic you could name, weaving from Johnny be Goode to The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary as if they were recorded in one session! There were nuggets of phone torch waving, particularly adroit was The Stereophonics’ Dakota.

Here is, essentially, a function covers band, but if you had them at your function it’d make it night to remember. Proof of this was evident in the huge crowd, with such a wide demographic, it seemed like everyone who had ever attended a function or event where they had played descended upon Devizes’ Market Place, and in knowing what was coming, flooded the dancefloor in anticipation. That’s one mighty accolade.

Yes, they smashed the predictable, and cliché covers apexes at Wonderwall, a point lovers of original compositions will no doubt sigh at, but for a covers band, it sure was accomplished, and they stood confident and experienced, raising funds for the Fatboys Charity and Wiltshire Rescue.

For me personally, my impressed expression didn’t falter, at times though I felt this collective had the skill and ability to create some tunes of their own, but in this consider they know their audience and give them what they want; they came here to dance the night away to the tunes they love, and who am I to deny them their enjoyment?

But I confess, I slipped out for a short while, for a pint down the Gate, because my focus and first love is the creativity of an original act, and there’s only so much disco swinging classics I can handle, no matter how skilfully handled. This, coupled with the fact I knew no one there, astonished as to how they can ram such a vast venue and not see one recognisable mug of town’s usual live music aficionados.

The audience reaction was upstanding, as if the Beatles were on stage, ergo my dilemma is to rate this highly upon the tenet just because it wasn’t wholly my cuppa, Indecision do what they say on their tin. Disgruntled at what appeared to me to be a village-fashioned clique with some audience members, upon trying to take an empty seat for the temporary moment I wished to sit, as this was so danceable, I was waved off with a warning the seat was reserved, despite the fact no one was obviously sitting on it, as if I was going to take the chair with me; bit weird and uncalled for, an eighties cheesy nightclubber come of age?! No, kind sir, I didn’t look at your girl!

Still I intended to return, but when I did the band had finished and a DJ was spinning Tiffany and other terrible pop mush, but they liked it, and that’s what’s important here, sadly I winced and escaped! Which was a shame, Indecision certainly tore the house down, were professional and beguiling, and I hope raised some serious wonga for the charity. Ah, the fault isn’t there’s, it’s all me! A massive congratulations to Indecision for staging a vibrant evening, of which the delight of their audience reviewed itself.


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Castlemorton Wasn’t the Best Rave Ever!

Featured Image ©Alan Lodge Photography

Okay, I confess, that’s a clickbait title, forced to make you shout, pantomime style, “oh yes it was!” On this, the thirtieth anniversary of The Castlemorton Free Festival I’m predicting vast quantities of media coverage, hailing its significance in the counterculture of the nineties, and indeed it was the largest illegal gathering in the UK, comparable with the Stonehenge Free Festivals a decade prior.….

And indeed, due to the knickers of a local Tory councillor getting in a twist, it heralded an act of law to prevent so much as four pixies gathering and listening to “repetitive beats,” a desperate last stand from fraying Thatcherism.

But arriving on the scene Friday, dusk had already befallen and we hadn’t a clue just how much it had blossomed. From its epicentre it seemed like just another, typical weekend for us, and in personal reflection, it was not my most memorable rave at all.

In the late eighties acid house was a secret, an exclusive collective no more than a couple of thousand strong. Pyramid promoting, predominately via word-of-mouth, but also by media overexposure, had created a monster; a burgeoning culture trend, an apolitical rebellion whose only ethos was carefree dance. But authorities could neither control it nor let it be. No one made any money from it, that infuriated them, so government made it political, the aftermath of Castlemorton was their Empire Strikes Back.

What was more important to me this weekend thirty years ago, was I finally passed my driving test; a catalyst to seeking raves easier than our only previous methods of blagging lifts or hitchhiking, both of which had unpredictable results. Devastating irony was this particular weekend would be the last of the great raves!

I had my Ford Escort, which I hadn’t fully paid my mum for, so it was legally still hers, and we headed off to Malvern in it; no motorway lesson nor taking-it-steady-on-local-roads starter kits for me!

This legendary party line phone message the Beeb published this week I never heard. On this occasion the usual method of a reliable source phone call was not needed; HTV broadcasted a bulletin about it, they made it too easy for us!

The common was positively buzzing, as more sound systems bolted on and revellers flocked to explode the population to city status. Just how many attended is the query for great debate, safety in numbers was our philosophy, but when we staggered up the hillside at sunrise, our rural chillout zone, the penny dropped.

I recall duly and rather dully contemplating, “they’re never going to live this one down, they’ll never let us get away with it,” it didn’t take Nostradamus, as this sprawling linear development metropolis of o’ bangers and hippy buses expanded like a Sim City game along across a single country track.

Yet the first evening proved unsuccessful in purchasing “rave necessities,” we were ripped off with duff “red & blacks,” soon to be aptly dubbed, “Dennis the Menaces.”

Financially this put us in deficit, and while the upside wasn’t so up, the downside seemed to be equally as prominent, as if the upside had of happened. Supply and demand reduced the potency, these were changing times. But we did it to ourselves, our own worst enemy in so effectively promoting this new way of life. Such was the effect of ecstasy, coming complete with an uncontrollable desire to share the experience, as standard. In this much, that is why we had come to this final kaboom; Castlemorton was the rave to end raves in the UK, least on the same scale.

Second downer for me was when a friend of a friend was badly injured, hanging off the side of a bus which was being pursued by police. The deep graze on her leg needed medical attention, a clean dressing, but the only car available was sporty without adequate room on the backseats. I was in no fit state to drive, so in a flash of unnerving planning, a friend had whisked away to an accident & emergency ward, in my car. We were stranded here for inestimable period. The sun was blazing with little shade, I couldn’t contemplate straying too far, eager to see my little red car returned safely.

I needn’t have worried, but understandably I did, I was a naïve 18-year-old, laughable now that I considered myself grownup. Feelings of doubt haunt the intoxicated teenage mind, but to give this story a happy ending, the car returned with injured passenger in fine fettle, and I was rewarded a gift for my assistance, the pick-me-up I sorely needed. So, because my friends didn’t receive a similar package, I had no choice but to temporarily abandon them, and head to the DIY tent for a dose of their celebrated trancey house grooves.

And for that moment it was an amazing experience, yet I’d argue no more than previous raves, like Lechlade the previous weekend, and so, so many others. Every time it just got bigger, but not necessarily better, Castlemorton was the breaking point, and for this, it deserves to be the one historically recorded and remembered. Though in turn we should use the anniversary of it to reminisce on the era as a whole, and the “happy daze” of our youth.

Rave continued regardless of the Criminal Justice Bill, albeit it took a shot in the leg, dispersing the scene into localised events, or, more agreeable to society, the great pay raves. But the most important factor of the importance of Castlemorton was the international media exposure, and the new ruling forcing sound systems to exile into Europe, for this only caused Britain’s enthusiastic tenet and attitude toward rave to go global.

In turn its effects on musical progression, the aesthetics of festival design, fashion, politics, and resurgence of counterculture are undeniably prominent today, and for those who attended this particular eruption, they’ll always make some fucking noise about Castlemorton; a raver’s Mecca; deservedly.


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Cobalt Fire’s Butterfly

In the words of the great Suggs, “but I like to stay in, and watch TV, on my own, every now and then,” after three gigs on the previous weekend, I opted a weekend off, albeit I was with the family, and succumbed to Britain’s Got Talent for my entertainment, one little part of me wishing I’d headed down the Southgate.….

To rub salt in the wound, Swindon-(I think)-based Cobalt Fire, who were providing the sounds at Devizes most dependable pub for original music last Saturday, also released a debut album called Butterfly, so naturally I wanted to hear what I missed.

Self-defined as a fusion of “the retro sound of 90’s grunge and post-punk with a modern take on folk,” I can see where they’re coming from, and it’s no new thing for them, formerly known as Ells and the Southern Wild, the band developed their fresh sound from acoustic roots, and yes, there’s tinges of this still in them. Though their bio suggests they formed in 2103, I gather there’s either a typo or a gothic timelord in there! But in their switch to electric they strive to retain the core features of the songs, “creating a more muscular beast in the process,” they put it.

And they’ve certainly achieved this, Butterfly, usually more bug than beast, is a boom of emotional overdrive, as grunge commands, with echoes more of Evanescence than Nirvana, what with Ells Chadd’s haunting vocal range. It packs punches from beginning to end, the finale of which, Another Round, particularly poignant to this nod to acoustic roots, middle tracks like His Words Lie Heavy breath an air of eighties post-punk, ah, goth tinge, Siouxsie Sioux style, while it begins strictly grunge, with those rising and falling echoes of emotive authority.

The magnum opus, though, is three tracks in, Crimson Red summarises everything great about this potent four-piece, it’s dynamitic, driving.

It’s basically ten professionally executed, blindingly touching three-minute heroes, in a fashion not usually my cuppa. But if I sing praises for a genre more me, that’s easy work, for music to make me consider oh yeah, I like this though pigeonholing obligation says I shouldn’t, the result is even more impressive, and with Butterfly I’m near to breaking out some multi-belt buckle platform boots, growing my hair and dying it black!

This is a powerful and emotive creation, indulgent of all rock subgenres, yet beguiling grunge, and it never strays from its unique sound. See now, I’m sorry I missed you guys, another time and I’m beeline; embarrassingly for BGT too, though I’ve given my best cat ate my homework excuse, and though I doubt you’ll turn Simon Cowell’s frown upside-down, going on this album, you’d have got my golden buzzer.

Ah, it’s all lies, anyway; not sure my hair will grow back!


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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?”

Billy Green’s Garden

To deal with my forgetfulness I have a to-do-list. The only issue with my to-do-list is I forget I started it; Billy Green released a new single last month, it’s a poetic stonker of indie-rap, with his usual nod to Britpop, and still it fell through the floodgate. Apologies to Bill, but it’s a convenient time to bring it up, as he gigs at Trowbridge’s Pump next Friday, May 27th, for Sheer Music.…..

What makes it even more exasperating for me, is that I was gossiping about the man himself, with Pip Phillips of People Like Us at Long Street Blues Club, what was it, just last week?! All good things, reminiscent of when they were in the nineties indie band, Still, together. Because Billy Green has a history, and it’s savoured in a nimble and accomplished style of the time; zip your tracksuit jacket up to the chin and hide your swirly pupils under a Kangol bucket cap!

The impression of Still remains a forefront for Bill, who named his 2020 album after the band, and followed it with a preceding collection of lost demos, made with the band mid-nineties. Tales of musical happenings in times of yore, before I landed on planet Devizes, always fascinate me, and I never tire of hearing about the blues bands of an era long past, with good folk like Exchange-owner Ian James. Yet Billy echoes out his antiquity, The Pump gig will incorporate his songs from the Still album, which relish in this bygone fashion, adroitly.

Billy Green @ Still

Surprised I was to note the quasi-rap poetry of this new tune, Garden, but twas a pleasant one. Teetering with his Geordie mockery it holds an ironic slate against the charade of social media embodiment, “people posting inspirational memes in one post, and ruining people in the next,” Bill describes it to me; I know that sentiment, probably a smidgen guilty myself, Bill, you bloody stickler!

Though hints of the everyday rap style of The Streets, it’s wrapped rather in the upbeat jaunty attitude of Blur, awash with Britpop influences of acts like James, for example. But don’t take my word for it, ere, have a listen yourself mate, and you’ll be mad-for-it too; sorted.


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George Ezra in…. Trowbridge!

Dad’s taxi drops off, and the driver impatiently awaits his off-spring to exceed the bluetooth boundary; ha, I’ve got of my car stereo back. It’s not all bad, just a majority of my daughter’s playlist is, coupled with her insistance it’s played; control freak!

Yet we can agree on somethings, the acoustic genius of George Ezra is perhaps the most mutual. Thanks to Marlborough record store, Sound Knowledge, I’m more than happy to go gigging with her and her mates.

He’ll be playing a short, intimate set to promote the release of his highly anticipated third album ‘Gold Rush Kid’ at 8pm on Thursday 16th June at The Civic in Trowbridge, Sound Knowledge’s first event in the venue.

Update:

Due to overwhelming demand a 2nd GEORGE EZRA show has been added for 6pm on Thursday 16th June.

Tickets will be on sale 10am tomorrow EXCLUSIVELY from http://www.sound-knowledge.co.uk ONLY. Please do not call The Civic to try to book tickets.

Tickets for the later show sold out in seconds, be quick on the fingers to get in!

The Brit Award-winning singer-songwriter first played Marlborough back in 2014 before the release of his debut ‘Wanted On Voyage’, his first chart-topping album. Its follow-up ‘Staying At Tamara’s’ hit No. 1 on both the Albums and Singles Chart with the mega track “Shotgun“. His new album was written and produced entirely in London with longstanding collaborator Joel Pott. “The Gold Rush Kid? That’s me,” says George, reflecting on the title of his third record, a twelve-strong suite of marvellous, transporting, elevational songs, that more than anything “sound like me. That’s what ties them together.”

Gold Rush Kid‘ is released on 10th June. Tickets and bundles are available exclusively online from Sound Knowledge RIGHT NOW, from 10am on Friday 20th May.

If you have any queries about the event, you know, prone to overthinking, please contact them in-store or over the phone on 01672 511106 but please note that tickets and bundles can only be purchased via the website.

CD & ticket bundle – £19.50
LP & ticket bundle – £25
Blue LP & ticket bundle – £28
Ticket-only *max 1 per customer* – £16.00

Sound Knowledge has become renowned for these instore events, while it’s great promotion for new releases from the artists, they’re also an affordable opportunity for locals, particularly younger, to get to meet, greet and hear them play, which would usually involve trekking to a festival or city-based gig. Though while Sound Knowledge have hosted all manner of artists in the past, George Ezra has top the lot, hence a larger venue is needed. Of course, this puts something of a tag on Trowbridge too, and I’m hopeful it’ll really lift an already blossoming reputation for the town’s live music scene, of which Kieran Moore and others has worked so tirelessly to attain.

And afterwards, perhaps my daughter and I can slip his CD in my car stereo and finally find some common ground!

Live Jam Sessions at Swindon Hub Looking for Musicians

Central at The Parade, Swindon Hub, an accessible, friendly community space which opened in October are aiming to host regular Saturday jamming sessions, to promote local artists and give them a platform where they can perform……

The Hub is a comfortable volunteer-led centre trying to bring the community together. They’ve an affordable café where they invite you to relax in their “snug,” read and share books in their bookshop, browse items for sale from local retailers and upcycled furniture by Renew Men’s Shed. The profits of any surplus of stock items donated from shops for sale go to Swindon Night Shelter.

They are currently building a calendar of regular events including a monthly craft market, weekly knitting circle and writer’s club, as well as art workshops and regular music jams on the weekends. They’ve just hosted Swindon ZineFest, which I’m sorry to hear I missed, and from a Women’s History Month exhibition or a Ukraine fundraising jumble sale to Dub in the Hub sessions, the last one by Suitcase Sound System, there’s something for everyone here, especially those who like cake!

Music last Saturday came from The Thieving Magpies, but it was far from the be-all-and-end-all of activities at the Swindon Hub, as well as the aforementioned zine festival, there was a kid’s comic workshop too; it really caters for all.

“The Jam is a Community project as much as a Music one,” organiser Claire told me.

It focuses on confidence building, teamwork, social interaction and collaboration.

The Jam has been running already since September last year and there have been hundreds of people who have taken part.

There are loads of people who take part who have no background in music or performing to an audience and it creates an opportunity for people to get involved with music without the traditional barriers that stop so many people from taking the first step.

That said there are also many talented musicians who take part and it creates a wonderful mix of experience and enthusiasm that allows people of all experience levels to have a meaningful musical and emotional experience.

The key to creating a successful jam is building a relaxed atmosphere with little pressure or expectation that allows people to share without fear of criticism, ridicule or humiliation.

The Hub has a great atmosphere for this kind of activity due to the warm, friendly and supportive nature of the volunteers and visitors to the space.

There are already some fantastic success stories of people who have had their confidence built up by attending the event.

Post lockdown has seen a real boost in community spirit, and such volunteer-based projects like this are a lifeline, in rural areas and debatably more crucial in urban areas too; the larger the population doesn’t necessarily mean the large scope for friendships to occur, in fact it can be harder. So, a massive congratulations to the good folk at Swindon Hub, this looks like an amazing space doing some amazing work, and I might add for a wide-spanning age demographic.

They always need volunteers, if you want to join and help shape the future of communities in Swindon, and any musicians interested in performing for their day sessions should contact them. Facebook Page here.


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Plein Air Painting at Bowood for Arts Together

On Saturday 2nd July 2022, there will be an exclusive chance to paint en plein air at Bowood House & Gardens in aid of Arts Together.

The Bowood Estate has previously never allowed members of the public to paint in the gardens, but we are delighted to announce that this year, Arts Together has been granted exclusive access to host a Landscape Painting Competition.

Set within 100 acres of beautifully landscaped ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland Bowood House and Gardens sits in the heart of Wiltshire between Derry Hill and Chippenham. An Italian-inspired Terrace Garden surrounds the Grade I listed Georgian House and a magnificent lake stretches out into the distance creating many opportunities for the landscape painter in this unique event.

The competition will be judged by Lady Lansdowne, High Sheriff of Wiltshire and Jen Gash, Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

Jen Gash Macedonia – commission for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

Jen Gash ‘Macedonia’ – commission for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2018.

The winner will receive an award at the event prize giving and a £50 voucher from ARTWAY art supplies.

Tickets are strictly limited and must be booked and paid for in advance through Arts Together.


The deadline for ticket sales is 20th June
and no tickets will be sold after this date.

Admission time 12pm July 2nd
J
udging 4pm (prize giving 4.30pm) 

Cost per entrant £25- this includes admission to Bowood House & Gardens
and entry to the competition.

Friends and family who are accompanying a competitor can purchase entry tickets at the standard admission rates, these must be purchased via Arts Together to allow access to the painting arena and prize giving event. Tea, coffee and cakes will be available exclusively to entrants and their friends and family at the Gardener’s Bothy.  -Cream teas can be pre-booked at cost of £5 per person.

All competitors will need to bring their own art supplies (unless pre-booked via Arts Together) and any easels or foldaway seating they require. These must be transported by the competitors on foot from the car park unless alternative prior arrangements have been made directly with Arts Together.

 Kindly note: this is an open-air event, and the weather is out of our control. Competitors will need to dress appropriately for the unpredictable summer weather. Come prepared for rain or shine!

If competitors would like to have art materials ready on arrival it is possible to purchase one of two ARTWAY kits from Arts Together at the time of ticket purchase. Further details on the artway kits can be found here

For any further information or to purchase tickets, Bowood House kindly request that all enquiries go via Belinda at Arts Together. Thank you for supporting this charity event.

belinda@artstogether.co.uk | Direct line 07779 608196  |   01380 831434

For directions and more information about Bowood visit www.bowood.org


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Crammer Watch Postcards; We Need Your Help

Next time you’re in Devizes town centre look out for the postcards in various shops and pubs. They’re not a wish you were here, more so a wish you can help, with updating the historic landmark which is the Crammer……….

All we need you to do is add your postcode, no names or contact details are needed, to the postcard, a petition, if you will, to send to Devizes Town Council expressing your wish that the Crammer needs bringing into the 21st century, it needs biodiversity. Since the van fire spilt contamination into the town’s pond at the beginning of the year, it has been realised it needs a few basic improvements to make it safe and effective for the wildlife living there.

A Facebook page, Crammer Watch (do please click here to like it) was set up to highlight the issue and gather support, the postcards, we hope, will emphasis the interest by local people and have some sway in convincing Devizes Town Council to act as a matter of urgency.

So, if you feel the Crammer isn’t as it used to be and you miss the wildlife that has vanished of late, please consider adding your postcode to these postcards. When full the postcards will be handed to Devizes Town Council to illustrate wide-ranging support for a good quality wildlife habitat and a showcase for Devizes.

There are two main issues detected which need improving, pipes flow into the Crammer directly from the road, polluting it and making in dangerous for wildlife, this should be redirected and a freshwater solution implemented. The second is what Swan Support informed us of when they rescued the poor swans drenched in oil spillage; they need a natural food source, having relied on handouts for so long the swans which were there had become reliable on them.

We accept what we are asking Devizes Town Council is a costly operation, and we’re not expecting miracles overnight, just the assurance the matter is still on the agenda. As Brian, heading the campaign says, “we need a positive action plan, with proper expertise assessment and a management strategy to deal with issue.”

The postcards are already filling up, please consider adding your postcode to them. They can be found at these outlets below, and thank you to everyone for showing your support.

The British Lion

9 Estcourt Street, Devizes SN10 1LQ

The Bell by The Green

Estcourt Street Devizes SN10 1LQ

 Light & Sound

2 Sidmouth St, Devizes SN10 1LF

The Barber Shop

24 Sidmouth Street Devizes SN10 1LD

CREATIV-e-T

11 Sidmouth St, Devizes SN10 1LD

Devizes Books

HANDEL HOUSE, Sidmouth St, Devizes SN10 1LD

Choic-e-cigs

16 Maryport St, Devizes SN10 1AH

White Chalk Gallery

8 Old Swan Yard, Devizes SN10 1AT

Estcourt Vets

5 Estcourt St, Devizes SN10 1LQ


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Popped my Frome cherry; a Morning in a Somerset Freetown

Without certified limitations on Devizine, I freestyle the boundaries of listing events upon the ethos if it’s conceivable and practical to drive to from our Devizes base, then what the hell, I’ll list it. While it’s laborious, and often impossible to include every Wiltshire pub with a man with a guitar yodelling Wonderwall in, I try my upmost, but the wider we journey the vaguer it obviously gets; I’m not flipping omnipresent.

I’m partial to listing events in Frome, though, despite it bordering my ruling, for two reasons; 1: The Cheese & Grain; the non-profit, community led, all-purpose venue, punches well above its weight, booking the quality of acts you’d expect to trek to a city for.

And 2: I get this overall perception of Frome being this little Somerset haven of alternative arts and culture; like a West Country Brighton, without a pier. But in all honesty, it’s hearsay; it could have a pier for all I know, for other than dropping in on my previous employment as a delivery driver, and to navigate its bypass on my way further west, I confess, I’ve never actually explored the centre of Frome; what-cha gonna do? I don’t do urban rambling, and deplore the mechanical façade of orthodox window-shopping.

In a weekend where I decided to bunk gigging, as previous weekends I’ve golloped three apiece, realise I’m addicted to writing and have to knock some-waffling-thing up for the sake of my sanity, even if it comes across school holiday assignment. Up until Sunday options were slim, Britain’s Got Talent the epicentre of entertainment ingested, followed by a surprisingly tricky quiz show hosted by the Not Going Out comedian, in which questions might’ve been easier if BGT hadn’t previously fried my cranium.

So, with Dad’s taxi booked to Longleat Forest with an approximate three-hour interval, I start contemplating how to kill said three hours. With strict satirical nonstarters like “keep driving,” “catch the first bus out of there,” and “end it all now!” being the responses to a Facebook post requesting ideas of how to kill three hours on a drizzly spring Sunday morning in Warminster, I made a note to reconnoitre why it’s considered so dismal and cultureless, other than its discouraging namesake relating to war, which is never much fun, coupled by my discovering a Warminster community hub website which, when you click their event guide comes up “page not found,” and perhaps sought to rectify this if possible, another time.

It was a no-brainer, head to Frome, Sunday mid-mornings aren’t the liveliest of times anywhere, so if I could find some hippy-chick knocking up a bowl of humus barefoot on the street, at least it’d be something. Noted I’d crossed state line as drystone walls envelope fields, hills get that bit steeper and road systems are purposely designed to ward off, or merely confuse the shit out of grockles.

To save diverting in circles, I implored myself to dump the car at the next available carpark and pray it was walking distance to the town centre. Cliché mainstream shop Marks & Sparks Food Hall and the Frome Job Centre provided clues, unimpressively. I mean yeah, they’ve got the archetypical charade of chain stores, though the borderline acceptable Subway being the only fast-food joint, if Greggs is endurable, and yay, they robbed me two quid to park on a Sunday to ascend vertical cobblestoned streets like Dale Winterton mountaineering, only to browse closed shops wondering why I didn’t slouch in the car playing WordLots on my Samsung.

What upped my spirits, other than a bakery sign saying Cornish pasties for £2.50 (I mean, who does that? Have I slipped through a wormhole to the nineteen-nineties, or is this the Isle of Wight?) was a window display of an arty emporium sardonically mocking Brexit and the travesty of the Conservatism regime through decorated mugs and other handmade merchandise. I smiled at the audacity of a shop which would be petrol-bombed by our knuckle-dragging majority of Daily Fail readers back in Devizes before it opened; I’d fit in here.

For want of getting lost, I wobbled back down the hill, locating The Sun Inn, one watering-hole with a Tardis for a door I’d noted for holding the odd live music event; perhaps that was my route back in time but without a rainbow scarf I couldn’t gain access, ramming the door only woke the dog and I assessed I was too early. Though by the time I’d detoured once more, governed by a broken compass, found another closed boozer I’ve listed as a music venue, uninventively named 23 Bath Street, I went on a hunch the side road by The George would be the way to my mecca.

Sure enough, over a bridge in a carpark a visage appeared, the golden wooded entertainment cathedral of The Cheese & Grain. With a café, The Grain Bar, on the side it was lively already, as a regular children’s clothes market, Little Pickles was just closing, allowing me to sneaky peak at the impressive venue. I could just imagine some great acts playing, who have in the past graced this stage. It was no Albert Hall, it was functional, yet in by modernism standard it was chic, alluring nonetheless.

I considered my tummy, at the café, but wandered off as on the way over to it, I’d seen another attraction beckoning me. Black Swan Arts is another point of interest, and I sheepishly entered, as a stranger does in a gallery shop. With some lovely art, you usually browse the circuit, make your excuses and go the way you came in, cos as much as I adore art, my wallet doesn’t.

Yet this was such a charming gallery, hosting plenty of workshops, it just fizzled into the Frome life already blossoming from its slumber outside. But I didn’t go out through the out-door, I sauntered to the rear of the shop to appear next in queue for the café, The River House, conveniently.

Handsomely expedient and adorably unpretentious, they kookily handed me a mini-figure of Batman’s Robin, rather than a spoon with a number on (which I secretly wanted to keep,) and proceeded to knock me up a hunky-dory mug of tea and perfectly toasted sausage ciabatta for a mere seven quid.

That’s when I got the bat-signal, sadly, my time was up and Dad’s taxi was back on call; just as I was getting into sharing my table with middle-aged beatniks far cooler than me. I pondered upon my return to the carpark, as a fellow sat on a bench practising his flute, Frome is a wonderfully original, outlandish place, deffo. If I was a younger, unattached lad, I could be persuaded to settle there, become part of the furniture at the Cheese & Grain.

But as it is, aging rapidly, rooted here with a settled family, and I must say, content with Devizes, I could only wish that our town council, our event organisers, and the great doers in town could take a leaf out of Frome’s books, shake off the partial frumpiness of Devizes, the discreditable tory grasp, and think outside the box. For all the great amenities we have in Devizes match Frome, yet our ability to utilise them as effectively, to accommodate everyone and their ways no matter how eccentric they might appear to others, sometimes, and I stress, only sometimes, falls beneath our potential; in, ha, you know, my honest opinion.

Though, I’ve returned home, added listings for The Cheese & Grain to our event calendar, as usual, but I mean, look, it falls within the ruling, really; they’ve got The Beat, The Feeling, Zion Train, Stiff Little Fingers coming up, they’ve even got Public Image Ltd, and thems worth driving the distances for, worth crossing border control into the land of somersetting for, if we can’t have Johnny Lydon here, punking up the Corn Exchange!


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Music For a Royal Celebration at St Mary’s Devizes

Get into the musical mood of the Platinum Jubilee with a concert in St Mary’s Church, Devizes, that showcases the Queen’s favourite music.

Talented sisters Katja and Laura, who play the cello and violin respectively as the Serenity String Duo, have put together a selection of music for a special programme marking this milestone anniversary on Friday, 20th May.

Classical favourites by composers including Bach, Handel and Vivaldi together with a medley of hymns the Queen enjoys will feature in the first half. The second part of the evening will focus on a range of pop classics from Abba and The Beatles to Queen; to be honest, if the Queen doesn’t like Queen, what chance have we got?!

It’s the perfect playlist to serenade the country’s longest serving monarch!

Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm.
Background note: Permissions have been given to transform the 12th century Grade 1 listed St Mary’s Church into a multi-use community space . The aim is to continue events, such as the above, whilst the fund-raising gets underway.

St Mary’s would very much welcome anyone who would like to get involved in this project. For further information about the project contact Tony Scorer on info@stmarydevizestrust.org.uk

Tickets are £15, online through ticketsource.co.uk at http://www.stmarydevizes.org.uk or book at Devizes Books or pay on the door)


Marlborough’s Lamb Announce LambFest

Contrary to popular belief, particularly my kids, I was young once, and back in that iron age I used to live in a motte-and-bailey hillfort in Marlborough; not a lot of people know that, except for the one’s who know that, and even they’ve probably blocked it from their memories.

Yes, Merlin-Borough, famous for a wide high street, a mound and a fair about mops, just fifteen miles from Devizes but a six hour bus journey with two changes, somehow perceived being on another planet for Devizions. But I promise you, it’s a lovely town and the only reason I left was because I found said bus stop.

Back then, you either risked shopping in Somerfield or waited for the final seconds of Waitrose’s hours of business to nip in and blag whatever they had duly reduced;  every night was like Ready, Steady Cook, and you were Ainsley Harriott.

Entertainment was the pub, which I had no quarrels about. My regular watering hole was The Green Dragon, until I matured enough to upgrade to The Lamb, at about 18. It has been a mainstay in Marlborough life for as long as I know, a welcoming and dependable tavern run by the only recently retired Vyv.

Sporadically we’d have free live music, and it was there us crafty little ravers perchanced to become fans of Swindon’s legendary Two-Tone band The Skanxters. So popular the sound that Marlborough formed it’s own ska band, Ska Trouble. But if there’s one unforgettable homegrown band it was Pants, as they were as the name suggests. Heavy metal covers of current pop songs came to a head with a thrashed version of the Mr Blobby song; man, we’ll never get that magic back.

Or will we? Pants are still on the circuit, and they’re still shit but proud, recently making me bath up toast commenting on social media at a G&H journalist’s report on Vyv’s retirement in which only frontman Moose Harris got a mention, like the others, whoever the fuck they are, had deserved some credit.

You can see for yourself, as The Lamb announce LambFest today, with Pants on the washing line and a whole host of others. Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June is the dates, it’s free but in aid of men’s mental health, and as well as Pants they promise Swindon’s premiere indie-pop darlings, Talk in Code, the one and only Gaz Brookfield, and Marlborough’s popular Kova me Bad. Interestingly, Mark Colton’s new Ian Dury tribute make their first appearance outside Swindon too.

Inside there’s acoustic acts, including the bearded third of the Lost Trades, Jamie R Hawkins. Heck, it continues Sunday with said Pants and Swindon’s punk ensemble Navago Dogs.

By the state of this fantastic lineup of local talent, dammit, this one’s calling me, tugging on my raw appetite for live music and cider. Which is a shame, because my pass for the glorious Mantonfest just came through and that’s in June too. Marlborough folk are going to assume I’ve moved back, and that terrible fake news bulletin could be just the one to push them over the edge of Merlin’s Mound.


Wiltshire Council Leader Richard Clewer Condemns Election Results as “Very Concerning.”

Ever wondered if our county council actually gives a hoot about you? Here’s window into the philosophy of Wiltshire Council leader Richard Clewer, his comments to the Gazette & Herald this week reveal his want for Conservative totalitarianism and his abhorrence at democracy; perhaps why they dropped the slogan where everybody matters in 2019, because clearly to Mr Clewer, only Tories do.…..

In the article he slams the local election results as “not good,” and “very concerning,” as elsewhere in the country, including some key conservative strongholds, Tories have lost control of eleven councils in total, and almost 500 councillors. Though Conservatives held onto our closest council, Swindon Borough, by the skin of its teeth, they lost four wards to Labour, and the Liberal Democrats took Somerset.

Snubbing the political etiquette of impartially congratulating new councillors, like Trump’s final hour of shame, Clewer whimpered on Friday, “they are not a good set of results, and are very concerning, especially in somewhere like Somerset.”

I beg to differ, there’s only two things “very concerning” to all of this, firstly is that our next elections aren’t scheduled until 2025; plenty of time to brush the daily newsfeed of scandal, nation neglect and barefaced fabrications under the carpet and uphold this Tory safe seat, if they can prevent the cabinet from acting like teenage delinquents for more than twenty-four hours.

Secondly, it is “very concerning” the leader of our county council’s vision is so utterly polarised and indoctrinated, he cannot see other people might just have a differing opinion to him.

The article goes onto suggest “Cllr Clewer added that it must be “heart-breaking” for those Tory councillors who have lost their seats in places such as Wandsworth – which has been a Conservative stronghold since 1978.”

Bless, my heart bleeds for them, no, really. Maybe they should’ve thought about this while their precious clown prime minster trudged us through the economic suicide of Brexit, the horrific impact of which is only now being revealed through hyperinflation, border control, and the breaking apart of the United Kingdom.

Maybe it should have crossed their minds when their precious prime minister failed to attend Cobra meetings, ignored the World Health Organisation’s advice to lockdown prior to certain money-making sports events, causing the virus to spread and made us the worst affected country in Europe. Then insisted on partying through lockdown while all around us families were dying.

Maybe there could’ve been an inkling something was amiss every time their precious prime minster failed, on every single count, and while I could go on with the perpetual cycle of car-crashes this government has dragged us through. The threadbare reality of this constant shit-show is becoming visible to even the knuckle draggers; “A hungry man is an angry Man.”

Change is certain; I bet your bottom dollar Wiltshire will be at the back of that queue.

Cllr Clewer also said that he was relieved that Wiltshire Council was not holding an election this year, as “it would have been very tough.” No shit, Sherlock. In a word; good. It is a good thing to have a council of varying opinions, one which can present answers in response to the public, rather than one blindly following arrogant crooks. The opposition is just an opposition, it may vary from your insufferable judgements, but it doesn’t make them wrong, or some demonic uprising, or even something to be concerned about. It just means “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’,” and you better like it or lump it!


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The Big Ones; Forthcoming Summer Events in the Devizes Area

Woe is me; tis a fortnight did pass since the beloved Devizes Street Festival. I did happen to saunter through the market lodging Saturday, peered ov’r to whither the main stage once gallantly did stand, but ‘t wast just parked cars and a bank façade; insert depress’d visage emoji…..     

Because that’s it, folks, that’s your bloomin’ lot; there is nothing else happening in Devizes this summer, nought, nada….

Okay, that probably didn’t work, you’re nobody’s fool, and you probably know these already, but here’s a quick guide to the BIG events in Devizes and surrounding villages over the summer months; you know, so bods don’t whinge on social media, “I didn’t hear about this, I took my dog out for a poo and ka-blamo, without so much as a warning some kind of social event hit me square in the chops.”

Oh, and before I commence the proceedings be aware there’s always something on, some little events here and there, like free music at The Southgate every Saturday for instance, do keep in tune with our event calendar, but for this particular outing, we’re thinking BIG (ooh, matron.)

Sunday 15th May: Devizes Town Band’s Fantastic Journey at the Corn Exchange.

Their first outing of the year, Devizes Town Band plan to get all Phileas Fogg and beyond, taking the Corn Exchange on a fantastic journey from the depths of the ocean into space and everything in between, and you could onboard! Tickets are £10 here: http://devizestownband.com/


Saturday 21st May: Indecision’s Last Hoorah Tour at the Corn Exchange.

Popular covers band on the local circuit and beyond, Indecision, has indeed made a mutual decision to split up, but not without going out with a bang; they’re hosting a “Last Hoorah” gig at Devizes Corn Exchange. Proceeds go to Wiltshire Search and Rescue and the Fatboys Charity.


Monday 23rd May: Lovesong @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes

Running till May 28th, Lovesong is the story of one couple, told from two different points in their lives, as young lovers in their 20s and as worldly companions looking back on their relationship. Their past & present selves collide onstage as we witness the optimism of youth becoming the wisdom of experience | Love is a leap of faith. Freddie Underwood brought Things I Know To Be True to the Wharf stage in 2019. Movement has become Freddie’s personal stamp within her productions and Lovesong will be similar to her previous work which fuses movement & music, partnering within the work of the text.


Saturday 28th May: Hardy’s Wessex: The Landscape Which Inspired a Writer, Exhibition at Wiltshire Museum

Running until 30th October, this exhibition opens 28th May, and will explore how Hardy’s writing merged his present with the past. Within this ancient landscape, old beliefs died hard and Hardy’s plots are set against a background of superstition. Hardy felt that these past ways of life were important, helping us understand ourselves and our relationship with the environment; he also made a film outside the Bear Hotel, like a TikTok-obsessed teenager up for a rumble. Okay, that last bit isn’t strictly true!


Note: The first week of June is the Jubilee, where there’s so many village or town street parties to list here, so check your village magazines and social media sites for archetypical clipart bunting posters, and gawd bless ‘er, guvnor.


Thursday 2nd – Monday 6th June: Honey Folk Festival @ The Barge Inn, HoneyStreet

Bit of prequel to July’s HoneyFest, as you might expect from the trusty Barge, it’s a folk fest with a difference. Acts here range globally and incorporates the loose pigeonhole world music too, so much so it’s like a mini-Womad!  


Saturday 4th June: Bromham Carnival

Friday 10th – Sunday 26th June: Devizes Arts Festival

A fortnight long arts festival on your doorstep! Including Baila La Cumbia, Rockin Billy, Tankus the Henge, The Scummy Mummies Show, Asa Murphy and so, so much more; we do love Devizes Arts Festival. Do check our preview, and links to The Devizes Arts Festival for more details of separate events and tickets.


Saturday 11th June: Sustainability Fair

Arranged by Sustainable Devizes, there will be a day celebrating all things sustainable in the Market Place and Shambles; let’s get green.


Sunday 12th June: Lions on the Green