12 Bars Later at The Southgate

Could be a pub crawl, more likely the chord progression of blues, but my drunken jesting query met with a shrug from the guitarist, the name 12 Bars Later means either, whatever!

I might not have been so far from a truth, in that over this bank holiday 12 Bars Later nail four bars; played the Crown at Bishop’s Cannings Saturday afternoon, switched to The Southgate later, and Sunday it’s over to Calne to play the Talbot’s mini-fest at 2pm, and the Gurkha Baynjan Restaurant at 8. Given a few more days I reckoned they could’ve shaken the rafters of a further eight!

Why is this narrowboat three-piece Wiltshire blues band fully-booked for gigs this weekend? Proof in the pudding, arm twisted, I nipped to the Gate to find out for myself.

Arriving late due to FullTone, it was immediately obvious, jigging up to the bar like the crows in Dumbo, their sound in its simplicity is irresistible, their stage pressence is immediately likeable. Confident Female fronted bassist, Helen Carter, banters well with the slight crowd and has the gritty vocal range of Joan Jett, while drummer and guitarist work in unison,  and we’re grinding to some down and dirty electric blues.

Yet there’s something more universally appealing here, 12 Bars Later will hook any classic tune duck, and ease it out of the pool with a blues makeover. The prize on the butt of said duck for anyone who books them will be enthused and delighted punters. This could be because they were once known as The Blue Rose Band, a seemingly more function band type name.

So yeah, while Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and obviously apt Rolling Stones covers were adroitly delivered with passion and a deserved hard-edge, they applied the same ethos to some well-crafted originals, of which they’ve recently recorded for a forthcoming debut, and what was more for the supportive audience, sing-along covers like Elvis’ Burning Love, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry, and even Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood. The latter of which they amusingly claimed was “as close to disco as we get!”

It’s an appropriate rebranding, for a highly entertaining pub band; certainly floated my boat, and likewise the blossoming crowd at The Southgate, as FullTone closed and folk headed over. For me, as acomplished and professional the sound of a full orchestra pushing pop hits is, it was of a generation next, for me, and I couldn’t nostalgically relate to Britney and Spice Girls covers any more than I did at the time. The Southgate was my safe haven, and boy, 12 Bars Later fit there like a glove, cumulative to another fantastic night at our dependable best pub in Devizes for the down-to-earth music aficionado.


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