Barrelhouse Rams The Gate!

When Barrelhouse visited the Southgate last easter, it was a great affair, though I was surprised to have been among a lesser crowd than a typical night down Devizes’ ever-dependable tavern. Given our blues obsession and this largely Marlborough based five-piece’s exceptional talent for providing exactly that, a clashing evening at Long Street Blues Club, if memory serves me well, is the only logical explanation. This time made up for it……

See, I’ve witnessed the crowd-pulling ability of this band on their home-turf, as residents of MantonFest, and was pleased to strut headlong into the rammed mosh pit, even if it meant accidently tripping over a dog, who got their own back with a nip of my badly executed apologetic hand! Rammed in there for birthday-boy landlord Dave, indeedy, but also, I confirm Devizes has awakened to how good these guys are. So rammed, even, I gave up trying to get a decent photo.

The dancefloor proved my point, Devizes has cottoned onto the Barrelhouse fanatical, and last night they took the packed boozer on their magical journey. Squeezed into our legendary alcove, it’s a good job they’re only barrel by name, otherwise it could’ve gone all Popup Pirate! I arrived fashionably late, plastered in badly grafted zombie makeup, but in time enough for the signature tune, and the one which attracted me to their most brilliant originals, Mainline Voodoo, a track they submitted to our first Julia’s House compilation. And being this was followed by their delta-version of Ace of Spades, I was happy to be there.

It’s when they slide in a cover of The Weight, you know you’re in good company, bassist Stuart jesting to me they only run it so Jim Morrison fashioned frontman, Martin Hands can sing the word “fanny.” And there it is, see, not a band with a standout character, but a real tight teamworking collective, they bind and entertain like clockwork, and the sound they produce is as it says on the tin, “vintage blues with a hard-edged groove.”

An encore was demanded, after Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, they only went and did Honkytonk Woman, and rinsed it with the skill they put into every one of their originals. Much so, you cannot see the seam, there is no wandering off to the bar when they call it, “here’s one of our originals;” no; crowd be like, okay, I’m happy with that. Especially at The Southgate; we like it like that.

It only leaves me to direct your eyes to the poster below, a kind of interim MantonFest, where alongside a Slade tribute, you’ll get the full impact of Barrelhouse on their home turf, and unless you hold out until they’re at the Gate again, you should make a beeline for this Christmassy offering.


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Female of the Species; Deadlier in Seend!

A glass half-full or half-empty scenario, to be at Seend Community Centre. The optimist in me ponders least it’s central, bang tidy between the Sham, Vizes and Trowvegas, or even if it matters if it is a wholly Seend affair, whatever; their Community Centre sure is a village venue to be proud of.

Neither am I here to dabble in petty town council politics. What’s been held at Melksham’s Assembly Hall for so many years and raised so much wonga for apt local charities, the local all-female supergroup Female of the Species’ outing now packed out the new place last night for their annual extravaganza, and as always, it’s a beautiful, highly entertaining shebang.

This time in aid of teenage advice organisation TeenTalk, the girls were adorned in costumes in a manner superior to anything gone before. With corresponding stage decor, they were looking absolute dynamite; gothic halloweenish, to suit the theme, and they knocked a series of sublime covers out of the park.

I mean yeah, with the look of celebrity divinity they charged the stage, opened with a more Bangles’ Hazy Shade of Winter than Simon & Garfunkel’s, followed it with Sledgehammer, but stars really came out on the third tune, with saxophonist Karen Porter’s matchless riff of Baker Street. Here the penny dropped for those not-in-the-know; Seend was aching towards a party in a calibre of magnitude, though I suspect many there were fully aware and prepped, the anticipation was positively buzzing.

The lesser capacity of this hall only breathing more atmosphere into their performance than ever previously. Yet either way in either hall, the frontwomen of these local bands, Jules of Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville, Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express, Claire Perry from Big Mamma’s Banned, and solo artist Charmaigne Andrews, never have a Jagger and Bowie moment of Dancing in the Street. That upstaging yearning simply doesn’t compute with them, and with every year which passes sees them more harmonious and in solidarity, save perhaps the customary saucy banter! It’s the reason why it’s as firm a fixture on my calendar as Christmas.

A covers night it maybe, but one of the highest qualities, with each singer adding their own genre preference into the cauldron. The method is this combined acquaintance, the magic is in the pop diversity they nimbly execute together. An example came quickly, when Jools led a floor-filling blast of Dawn Penn’s reworked rock steady classic, No, No, No. Through slight Halloween themed Hungry like Wolf and People are Strange, each tune was building into a continuingly improving pop compilation, arriving at an apex with a breathtakingly soulful version of The Faces’ Stay with Me, verging on Aretha-level of greatness.

But none of this happened before a superb support set of originals by young Trowbridge country-pop singer-songwriter Becky Lawrence, who, donned in a tiny witch’s hat and accompanied by warlock-looking guitarist Dylan Smith (more on this chap at a later date) treated us to her crystal-clear vocals and acute observational wordsmithing. Particularly poignant was her single, Loud and 17, even if seventeen is a long-vapourised recollection for me personally! Such was the performance; both these musicians are bleeping promptly on my radar.

With the thought of Jools returning with her band, Train to Skaville for New Year’s Eve this year, as The Female of the Species blasted through their catalogue of wonderful covers, it draws a double line under Seend Community Centre as a seriously contending venue and their lively and diverse range of events. Quality night, as to be expected based on past experience, but with an added bonus of a Halloween spooky theme and in a new venue; enough for me to don some zombie slap, which promptly melted off my face in the heat of the dancefloor moment!


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Return of DOCA’s Window Wanderland

To look back at the pandemic as a terrible era in our lives is justified, but as with all hard times some positives came from it; how we can care and respect each other, how to try our best to carry on, and, how we can continue traditions we once took for granted. In the latter, changes were made to events and entertainment, some changes which worked remain. Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, like all event organisers were under pressure to come up with some way of celebrating Christmas, Window Wanderland was it. So popular with Devizes residents it is great to see it happening this year.

DOCA invite our local community to create something special in their windows, to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. This Winter Festival theme is ‘Cold Weather, Warm Hearts’ and they would love to see some windows decorated around this to feed into the other work they are doing across the weekend. This window extravaganza will run from 24th – 27th November 2022, from 5pm-9pm daily.

Anyone with a window can create a display which they hope will light up Devizes. Make sure you wrap up warm, get out and enjoy the change of window scenery. To take part is free, all you have to do is register your window. This will allow it to be included on the interactive map of Devizes, highlighting all the different window locations.

Register Here. More about Devizes Window Wanderland Here.


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

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show!

by Andy Fawthrop

We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame in saying it again, but we are incredibly lucky to have so many talented musical and dramatic companies on our doorstep.  White Horse Opera (WHO) is but one of these, a company packed with plenty of both talent and enthusiasm.  They’d previewed this week’s offering with a few early excerpts at their Spring Concert way back in March in Devizes Town Hall, which I also attended, but tonight’s dress rehearsal was a chance to see how the full operetta had panned out.

And I have to say that it is a total and delightful success!  Regular readers will know that I’m no expert on opera, but it’s one of the musical forms that I do happen to love.  This particular 19th-century two-act comic opera production is a very accessible and easy-to-love piece, with some absolutely gorgeous music. 

The plot, as is fairly usual in any comic opera, is somewhat ludicrous and unbelievable.  Briefly – Nemorino, a poor peasant, is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adina, a rich landowner.  Aware of his adoration, she torments him with her indifference and allows herself to be courted by the recently-arrived Captain Belcore.  Nemorino resorts to buying what he thinks is a love potion (in this case a cheap bottle of Bordeaux) from the shameless Dr. Dulcamara, but will it work to enable him to win her love?  That’s the set-up in the first act.

Will everything be resolved in the second act?…..well, you’ll have to come and see the production to find out!  Suffice to say that there are lots of twists and turns, deceptions, misunderstandings, a secret inheritance and plenty of improbabilities before everything is finally sorted out.

The opera, which essentially is about the triumph of sincerity over trickery and duplicity marks Matt Dauncey’s directorial debut, and he’s made a fine job of it.  He’s introduced some nice visual comedy into the production, but without obscuring the essential comedy of Donizetti’s plot.  It also features three big duets between the exciting lead tenor (Robert Felstead making his debut opera performance with WHO) and lead soprano (beautifully sung by the ever-reliable Lisa House).  There are other star turns too from Jon Paget as the dashing Captain Belcore and Stephen Grimshaw as the duplicitous Doctor Dulcamara.

For regular opera lovers, this show is an absolute must, and for those wondering about whether to dip their toes into the shallow waters of opera, this would be a cracking one to start with.  It’s very accessible – it’s sung in English and there are programme notes to guide you through the plot – but, more importantly it’s really well done.  To say that WHO is an amateur opera company is to somewhat undersell itself – what they deliver is an extremely polished and professional performance.  The opera itself is a delight, featuring lots of great songs and choruses, and it delivers a great night’s entertainment.

In summary the main reason you should go and see it is that it’s bloody good!

Tickets are still available for performances tonight (Wednesday), and for Friday and Saturday.

Future WHO events:

Sat 12th Nov 2022              Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore    7.30pm Hilperton Village Hall

Fri 25th Nov 2022               Top Of The Ops                                 7.30pm Holt United Reformed Church

Wed 14th Dec                     Christmas Concert                           7.30pm St. Johns Church, Devizes

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


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Fox Hunting Suppoter Ploughs into Sab with Car

Just a quick one from me this morning, as I’m at a total loss for words. A video has emerged on Facebook from the Herefordshire Hunt Saboteurs of a host and hunt supporter on the Ladywood Estate, home of the Cottesmore Hunt, running over a sab at high speed. The Sab organisation claim it was deliberate, I personally cannot see how you can possibly deny it anything less.

https://fb.watch/goKC1eWnhd/

Another example of the outrageous behaviour of hunt supporters in an ongoing national series of violent backlashes against groups only protecting wildlife in accordance of the law. Though I know, this is a little outside our area, it is the like we’ve seen at Lacock last Boxing Day, but so off the scale, it needs coverage, to highlight the extreme lengths hunt supporters are willing to go to; it is nothing short of attempted murder.

Aside the obvious that this aggressor should be bought to justice via the compelling evidence, it should stand as a testament to what the sabs have to endure, whether it is verbal abuse and harassment on a daily basis, or bouts of violence. Even if it were true, that the smokescreen of trail hunting are carried out legally, this should be used as a reason to outright ban the whole filthy charade, before someone is killed.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to victim and hope she makes a speedy recovery.


Anyone For Table Tennis at Hillworth Park?

Yep, it’s true, Devizes’ wonderful Hillworth Park is to get an all-weather outdoor table tennis table, installed over the coming weeks, agreed at a Devizes Town Council recreation and properties committee meeting yesterday.

Funded through the council’s CIL receipts, the project has been a bit ping-pong since the idea was put forward at the beginning of the year, with supplier and contractor issues, but looks likely to be smashed over the net very soon.

A positive strategy has also been served into action for those remaining town playparks in need of attention. Playgrounds in Cowslip Close, Festival Close and Wadworth Road have been earmarked by the council’s play area working party for repair and funding has been confirmed for them.

Councillor Jonathan Hunter, who has been formulating youth objectives and a working group structure recently said, “I believe the council has listened, and continues to listen to the community with action orientated follow up work that will improve play areas.”

Moving in the right direction to address youth issues could see a safe space youth venue, youth council inclusion schemes and a youth civic award scheme too. But little acorns, Devizine plans to grill Mr Hunter soon about progress on these exciting ventures addressing young people’s issues, over a nice cuppa, naturally, but for now, anyone for table tennis?!


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 26th Oct – 2nd Nov 2022

So, Rishi Sunak is prime minister, eh, how about that for diversity? Last time, a woman, of sorts, now an Asian chap. A tax-avoiding billionaire Asian chap with a name which sounds like a brand of orange fizzy-pop, but one nonetheless. You’ve got to wonder who it’ll be next week.

My money is on a Klingon, but I must commend the Tories, seems they’re not quite as prejudice as Nazis after all. It doesn’t matter, age, gender, race or religion; providing you’re working class they’ll shit on all of us from a-high, but with a degree of equality.

It would’ve been nice if Liz Truss could’ve stuck around for another week, if only for topical pumpkin carving purposes, because yes, it is the ancient American-over-commercialised Gaelic feast of Samhain, or Halloween to Christian cultural thieves.

After a family outing to pick our own pumpkins on a farm near Rowde in torrential rain last Saturday, confirming I married into a rural family, and kids who consider themselves too matured to trick or treat, I’d like to go out on creepy tiles (see editor’s pick of the week) but tickets are being grabbed fast, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel by the weekend after being brutally attacked last Saturday by a hanging basket.

Where were Wiltshire Police when the attack took place, you cry? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. Typical, and that hanging basket is still at large somewhere, be warned. Needless to say, I sustained a surprisingly substantial head injury, though not the reason I’m talking complete toilet; I’m always like this.

I did manage to see a doctor. After a reply I pre-empted to be a telephone appointment sometime in May 2023, going by social media rants, I was invited to Southbroom surgery faster than I could change out of my Paddington jimmy-jams, and within the hour I was let back on the street. Not forgoing I retain a sore head with bolts of pain shooting through it upon the slightest of movement, but I’m after no sympathy. It’s the worry of 50 coming like a rocket over the hill at me. Any previous age and I’d have been, like, ah, just a bump to the noggin, be right as reign come morning. But now, any slight aliment and I’m drafting my bucket list; though I’d suspect Kylie Minogue won’t respond favourably in any case.

Onwards with what’s happening this creepy weekend, before I dose myself in more paracetamol. As usual the only link you need for more info and tickets is our event calendar HERE. If there’s stuff going on I’ve not mentioned below, stay tuned to the guide as I might yet update it through the week, and if it’s your event I missed, that’s likely because you didn’t tell me about it.

Wednesday 26th, and it’s the White Horse Opera’s opening night of L’elisir d’amore at Lavington School, which runs until 29th. And the Rondo Theatre, Bath has Female Transport, also running the same dates.


On Thursday 27th Devizes Lgbtq+ hold their Drag Queen Bingo, Halloqueen Edition at The Exchange in Devizes, which was a sell-out last time, so get in quick.

Find reggae at Level III, Swindon with the Erin Bardwell Three, and Grim Slickers at The Vic.


Friday 28th, Halloween Family Disco at The Neeld, Chippenham. LGBTQ+ Halloween night at The Exchange, Devizes.

Violin, rapper and loop artist, Mike Dennis is at The Pump, Trowbridge.

Bit confused as I’ve a poster from the Specialised Project, advertising Monkey Ska at the Vic, Swindon, but listings show Getrz, Vicuals and I See Orange playing there too, so perhaps the first one has been cancelled, unsure. The Terraplanes Blues Band play the Rolleston Arms, though, that much I do know!

Also find Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, Muze at The Tree House, Frome, while The Freddie & Queen Experience are at the Cheese & Grain.


Saturday 29th, everything is awesome at Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club, 3-4pm every Saturday. It’s Autumn in the Park at Hillworth in Devizes, see poster, and St John’s Michaelmas Fayre too.

Getting very Halloween now, with Halloween Karaoke at The Pelican Inn, Devizes, Devizes Scooter Club’s Skalloween at the Cavalier, a Halloween party with DJ James Therelfall at the Muck & Dunder, Thriller Halloween party at the Exchange, and The Monster Ball at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Kind of optional creepy fancy dress at Editor’s Pick of The Week: The Female of the Species 7th Annual Fundraising Gig at Seend Community Hall.

Tickets are going like hot cakes for this annual extravaganza from our lovely all-female local supergroup, now packing a punch at Seend, so get in quickly, it is always an amazing show.

Away from Halloween vibes, those masters of vintage blues, Barrelhouse play The Southgate, Devizes, Trash Panda, The Bastard Son of Humdinger & My Mate’s Band play The Coppers Arms, Pewsey. Strange Folk at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

Stop Stop at The Vic, Swindon, Judas Rising at the Rolleston.

Congress at Salisbury Cathedral, Spritato – Inspiring Bach at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Oh, and The Lightning Seeds play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Sunday 30th, The Innes Sibun Band arrive at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, guaranteed knockout.

Spooky stuff continues as Monday 31st is the opening night for Picnic at Hanging Rock at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes; of which I’m hoping to get a review of out by Monday, or Tuesday latest. Running until 5th November, preview here.

And we’re into November, Wednesday 2nd don’t forget, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Jordan Bak is at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Keep on scrolling for future fings to do, hopefully I’ll join you real soon, hanging basket though, I ask you, evil hanging basket; why can’t they just plant flowers in the ground like normal folk? They should be brought to justice! Have a good week, the doctor told me to stay off devices and screens, so I’m outta here, going to take up badminton instead, which is an extreme sport to me!


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

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

REVIEW – Chaz Thorogood @ The Southgate, Devizes – Sunday 24th October 2022

Thoroughly Good Thorogood

In Praise Of Sunday Afternoons At The Gate

Andy Fawthrop

Do you ever get that feeling that each day has its own special feeling, its own atmosphere?  Do we even need to talk about Mondays?  Fridays, especially Friday evening, have that “thank God it’s all over for another week; let’s go out and have a drink to get the weekend started” vibe.  Saturdays are sport, leisure, shopping, maybe a meal out, perhaps a music gig.  And Sundays, well Sundays are different yet again, aren’t they?  Yes I know there’s that well-documented slight anxiety about the coming working week, but there’s just something more laid-back, more relaxed about the whole atmosphere.

And that’s how it is at The Southgate on Sunday afternoons – comfortable, relaxed and a nice buzz amongst the regular music-goers.  Some of my best memories of 2022 have been those lazy, hazy Sundays at Dave & Deb’s place, watching some of the best local musical talent on show.

All year, on each first Sunday of the month, local hero Jon Amor has been showcasing his musical “friends” – his trio with Tom Gilkes on drums and Jerry Soffe on bass, together with an eclectic set of special guests (Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse in the early part of the year being a particular highlight).  But one of those guests, guitarist Chaz Thorogood, impressed so much that he was asked to come back with his own band and do his own gig, and yesterday we were treated to the results.

But first a short aside – last Sunday afternoon featured another superb artist: Jack Grace and his trio.  What a show that was.  More than two hours of country/ folky/ blues/ rock songs stitched together by Jack’s amazing commentary and stories.  There were echoes in there of Hot Tuna, Tom Waits, Alex Harvey and a whole vaudeville vibe that was by turns exciting, hilarious and totally infectious.  It was genuinely one of those gigs that you just don’t want to end.  Musical entertainment of the very first order.

Jack Grace Band

However, I digress – back to Chaz.  As if last week-end’s show couldn’t be bettered, here was something equally good.  Playing plenty of rock-infused blues, Chaz’s two sets were a revelation.  Taking several blues standards by the throat, he and his boys steadily squeezed new life out of them.  Crossroads, Got My Mojo Working, Folsom Prison Blues all got the treatment, with some absolutely inspired leas guitar work.  And then, if it were possible, he went up another gear.  What he did to Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile was absolutely stunning (“filthy” was the word used by a friend of mine).  Later he repeated the trick with All Along The Watchtower, and even managed (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to kick seven bells out of Britney Spears’ Toxic.  And there was a final cherry on the cake – a stonking and inspired version of the Beatles’ Come Together.  To say that this guy knows his way around a guitar is a massive understatement.  Entertainment of the very first order.

So yet another brilliant Sunday afternoon completed – good beer, great company, wonderful atmosphere and some stunningly good music.  It’s what life’s all about in my book – stuff Monday!

So if you’ve not poked your nose around the door of The Southgate yet, I strongly suggest that you do so.  There’s gigs on various Fridays and Saturdays too but, for me at least, Sundays just have that edge.  And your next chance to experience just what I mean is in a couple of Sundays’ time, when Jon Amor returns to his monthly residency with his trio and another musical guest.

Future gigs at The Southgate:

Saturday 29th October  Barrelhouse

Saturday 5th November  41 Fords

Sunday 6th November  Jon Amor + Friends ft Ben Waghorn (sax)


Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull Expresses Outrage as Farmer Buried an Active Badger Sett

Amidst the number of other suspicious, much less futilely brutal activities, in the pursuit of rural blood sports, we’re currently knee-deep in the badger cull, set to run until 2025 at least, and Government’s dodgy bTB eradication policy plans makes hard reading, but who, locally, bothers with licences anyway? Just lob some peanuts, and fire away….

Allow me, doubtful a counterargument will come my way being they usually don’t warrant communication other than hate-mail or vindictive social media comments, an opinion piece on a particular recent incident highlighted by non-profit organisation, Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull; now, let’s dig those claws in, shall we?

You got to laugh, if not cry, when supporters excuse their actions with the argument campaigners know nothing of “country ways.” I beg to differ, I’m sure most live locally too, in rural areas. More likely they know nothing in comprehending just why trigger-happy landowners cannot find humane methods of dealing with so-called pests, which, incidentally, are plentiful. And in that, feel the need to apply a variety of pathetic and wretched smokescreens to justify their thirst for blood. But, you know, I don’t like to mince my words.

So infuriated to hear of this one, and the police’s apparent lack of action towards it, according to the organisation I’ve no reasonable grounds to doubt. I pondered a title of Wiltshire’s Killing Fields, but thought twice, it may be offensive to victims of the genocide in Cambodia. After all, MPs far more intelligent than me, declared animals are not sentient life forms, didn’t they? Though a withdrawal bill to transfer the EU protocol on animal sentience into UK law was narrowly defeated, the jury is out on what the vote meant in practice. Me? I saw a dead cat lying in the road recently, and another cat clearly crying at its side. Make of that what you will, but consider your pet dog, their affection for you is indisputable.  

Anyway, the story goes something like this…. are you sitting awkwardly and about to retch? Then I’ll begin, but warn, some areas of reality here might be distressing.

Monks Farm near Gastard is the setting for our fairy-tale, one dark night when the Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull patrol entered a field there, to cross a footpath close to a badger’s sett. All of a sudden, a shot was heard, the crusaders knew they were too late.

The patrol raced towards the sett, as cull shooters the campaigners called “cowardly,” fled the scene. Myself, I cannot be so judgemental and refuse to name-call, but being they reported they’d “managed to grab the body, and drag it 100m pouring with blood to their vehicle,” through an act where the farmer was “determined to wipe out this sett in his crop field,” even I, non-prude, confessed occasional wasp-killer must acknowledge, it all seems a little Bad Boys to me. The farmer is named in their Facebook post, I like to think he sees himself as Will Smith in some popcorn-munching overdramatic Hollywood trash; “keep my woke do-gooders’ names out of your fucking jokes!”

Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull have been monitoring the sett ever since, and regularly record activity, badgers, as well as his attempts to wipe them out. They watched the surviving badgers playing nearby in his fields often, using their thermal or night-vision cameras right up to Autumn 2021. I’m assuming the field was fallow, being the campaigners state, “with nothing in the field to “protect” (landowners smokescreen excuse to destroy wildlife on their land), we had hoped they would be safe for the winter and in peace to birth their cubs, which occurs between January and March, with cubs remaining underground until April or May.” 

But upon their return in February, and to their horror, the entire field had been deep ploughed ready for planting potatoes. They claimed, “the setts were completely wiped out and nothing of them survived. Undoubtedly the sett was active at the time, as we witnessed on our cameras, even having taken a still photo of them in the field in the October.”

They reported the matter to rural crime team, who discovered the farmer, obviously angry at the badgers for daring to build a home in a corner of his field, and angry at them for having the gall to try to lawfully protect them, had applied to Natural England for permission to interfere with the sett, “to protect crops.” Poppycock is great word to insert at this conjunction, I feel; one can only apply to cull badgers to prevent the spread of Bovine TB in cattle, which opens another pandora’s box I’m sure we’re aware of. There’s little evidence to show this is anyway effective from Bovine TB in cattle, badgers rarely go near cattle, and likely the spread of the virus is from cattle-to-cattle because of bad farming practises.

But this contradiction of the purpose of the cull is besides the point here. Badgers are protected species in the UK, so if they already have an established sett, there is nothing you can do. There are laws in place to protect badgers from coming to harm. According to UK law, you cannot dig for a badger, mistreat a badger, allow or provoke a dog to enter a badger sett, disturb or block access to a badger sett, nor intentionally take, injure or kill a badger; so there it is. Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull claim “the truth is they just want them off their land, because it’s ingrained in them that they can do as they please on their land.”

I find myself wondering just how much damage to acres of crop can one badger sett possibly do? I mean, really, are they likely to invite their badger friends to an illegal rave on your land, are they football hooligan badgers prospectively out to cause trouble? “Come on you black and whites!”

This was a breach of the licence, clearly, as Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull explain, “the licence does not allow him to destroy an active sett, nor cause suffering to a protected animal. In this case the undoubted suffocation of badgers and their cubs as they slept during daylight whilst he ploughed. The former 11+ healthy active entrances which we originally surveyed some years ago, have never to this date reappeared.”

Badgers are an endangered species, uncontrolled destruction of them will wipe them out for good, that’s why I’m relaying these claims, and not to upset those in the agricultural industry. There are methods to protect crops, better fences lying further below the surface than badgers can burrow, use natural repellents, or motion sensor floodlights.  

Every fairy-tale needs a happy ending, and the group said, “a couple of months ago, we were delighted to find a new active entrance not far away from the former sett, and finding what is clearly a survivor from the wiped-out clan, we captured some beautiful video, proving the sett to be active.  We once again asked the rural crime team to investigate, and also contacted Natural England as did the police.”

But the twist comes thus, “we are saddened to report that the case has been closed with no action taken, and once again the criminal slaughter of our wildlife goes unpunished. This is why so many people take the matter into their own hands, because we cannot rely on the law, or even those paid to uphold it.”

Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull ask for help in the field, or if not, consider making a donation to their fuel and equipment fund, or just buy them a coffee. They conclude, “we note no licences for this year’s cull have yet been published, but we know shooters are in fields still killing our badgers every night through the last six weeks, and although this year’s cull is beginning to draw to a close, we are still out filming and watching our stripy friends and will continue to do so until this whole murderous chapter is finally brought to an end.”

Myself, as a nocturnal worker, badgers pass me by, we keep ourselves to ourselves to be honest, they can have a little growl at me from time-to-time, maybe I get too close to their sett, and that’s understandable. But in all, I have a little banter at the way they waddle, and generally call them out for their chubby bottoms when they run off! Still, the last thing I want is to see my work buddies shot, and possibly become extinct.

Therefore, hats off to Wiltshire Against the Badger Cull for the work they do, and though I don’t understand quite why police have failed to prosecute, likely the lack of evidence excuse, if they don’t go investigating these things, as ol’ PCC Wilko Cobra Kai seems prominent in stamping out hare coursing but vauge on fox hunting, they never will have a case, now will they? Much of this opinion piece is based upon the words of the campaign group, I’ll give you this much, but consider Wiltshire Police, in their special measures, hardly appear to be proactive in abiding to the law against blood sports. I’ll leave you with this recent photo, to remind you, and for you to make your own mind up, but ask, if Swindon and Oxford football hooligans clashed, would you send an active supporter of either team to police it?!


Dakar Audio Club; Exeter’s African Secret

Such is the universal beauty of Bandcamp, one goes exploring music from another continent and discovers something sublime, from only ninety miles down the M5!

If it’s unlikely there’s an Exeter Audio Club in Senegal, there’s certainly a Dakar Audio Club in Devon, whereby afrobeat fusion knows no boundaries. I mean, I went searching for soukous, more Congolese rhumba-influenced than the dance music mbalax of Senegal, popularised by Youssou N’Dour, but when it boils down to the nitty-gritty, usage of the afrobeat blanket term averts erroneously pigeonholing outside Africa. Providing it’s got exotic riffs and danceable beats, I’m game, and the Dakar Audio Club certainly ticks those boxes.

If mbalax isn’t as frenetic as soukous, Dakar Audio Club partially reflects this; it rocks steady, offering euphoric soundscapes, citing Malian blues, Ghanan highlife and reggae, as well as soukous as key ingredients to its unique melting pot; afro-fusion.

Not put off by the algebra title, B+W is their second full album, released last year, but I’m mentioning it now because I’ve just discovered it, and love shines when tropical ambience washes up on our shores. Viability of catching a band live is problematic for world music fans, unless you’re an international jetsetter or, as is here, the mountain welcomely comes to Muhammad.

They boast as a seven-piece band formed with members from Senegal, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, UK and Ireland. The latter evident in the most diverse track Lines in Desert, which occupies an experimental place between their house style and something particularly eighties two-tone, English pop of The Selecter or Specials. To the untrained ear you’d be excused for imagining this might be Paul Simon’s Graceland influenced by north-western territories rather than South Africa, dashed with Can’t Stand Losing You from The Beat. That said, N’Dour featured on Graceland, so who’s splitting hairs?

Throughout the remaining eight tracks, though, which are far less European sounding, the subtle reggae element is more dub than ska, perhaps nodding to the resistance rhythms of Thomas Mapfumo and chimurenga, as this beautiful album offers hypnotic beats and melodic rhythms, encasing the blend, gorgeously and nimbly executed. In this comes my point, it’s engaging, moreish, absolutely divine and doesn’t stand on convention of any particular genre, which isn’t quintessentially necessary locally anyway.

In a pretend word, it’s Womad-tastic, opening with a jazzy track Howmoco, in which you should imagine as if The Brand-New Heavies were from Zimbabwe, the second tune wears a similar suit, immersing you in the hypnotical rhythm of their wholesale style. Next is aforementioned Paul Simon does Two-Tone Lines in Desert. Buganala though skanks perhaps more, really displaying the reggae influence inherit in many contemporary African genres. Nea Wurri Solo comes over township jive, whereas standout track Dancing The Moonlight, sounds like the soukous I was looking for, though steel drums add a Caribbean influence here, and there’s a club fashioned remix on offer as a single too.

From there we are treated to a continuation of this gorgeous melting pot of tropical sounds and rhythms, which will bring sunshine into your life on the cloudiest of days. By the penultimate Amuul Solo, I’m too locked into the flow to bother with categorisation as it wobbles with dub reverbs, but casts the hypnotic seven riffs of Africa, in accordance with Hugh Masekela, with a blissful ambient finale.

I confess, if I have an area of expertise, African music isn’t it, but least I know what I love, and this is it! It’s one those you have to listen to and get lost in yourself, so do it, and brighten up your Sunday!


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As Cool as an Eddie Martin; Blues at The Southgate

It was a typical, standard Saturday night at Devizes Southgate, but a typical and standard night at the Gate equates to an absolutely blinding night in most other pubs……

Amidst friendly faces, welcoming staff and warm familiar surroundings, the unpredictable drizzling autumn was set aside for Mr Eddie Martin to group with the finest drum and bass section to grace the alcove, Tom Gilkes and Jerry Soffe respectively. And together they blasted us full in face with some sublime three-piece electric blues. An unchanged formula for decades, because it works.

Though Eddie himself is diverse, the last time I saw him he was solo, filling gaps between bands in at The Wiltshire Blues and Soul Club’s grand evening at the Corn Exchange, where clad in golden suit he executed vintage blues akin to Muddy Waters. A high accolade it may well be but fully deserved. With full horn section he went for the big band style recently at the Long Street Blues Club, but here at the Gate, he’s truly rocking the electric blues, in DMs, black jeans and one too many shirt buttons open. He can do this, with apt blue shades and shaved head he looks the part, and certainly sounds it.

With a few blues covers, but nothing immediately recognisable or cliché, Eddie mostly rolled out original tracks from his plethora of albums, in a suitcase at his feet. This matched the appreciation of the slight but blossoming crowd. It was, in short, electrifying yet cool as a cucumber; an electrified cucumber, if you will. In fact, I could skewer the idiom to cool as an Eddie Martin!

Nimble on the strings, with extended instrumental breaks of mesmerising proportions, he polished those songs right there before our very eyes, and it was something to behold. I believe, if memory serves me well, my top drunken exclamation was a rather Punch and Judy, “that’s the way to do it,” because it is.

Not that this was the night I had planned, intentions were to get to Bath for a bit of ska and boss reggae with Ya Freshness, but difficulties with non-existent public transport meant I’d have to drive, and being I’ve galivanted elsewhere the past few weekends, sometimes one desires a few too many ciders, where everybody knows your…erm, cue classic American sitcom theme, because it’s apt. The Southgate is that dependable tavern, which hasn’t failed me yet, and neither on this occasion either.

Eddie, a local bluesman of international calibre knows exactly what he’s doing, Devizes renowned blues circuit love him for it. Not only does he know his way around a guitar, but he also even attaches his harmonica holder stylishly and he knows how to rouse a crowd. Which means I don’t make comparisons to blues legends lightly, but justifiably, and the thought hangs on the Howlin’ Wolf. Needless to say, I had a great night, and even flagged a taxi home with ease, cool as an Eddie Martin, what is this now, 2019? No one gets an unbooked taxi in a rank at midnight in Devizes anymore; luck is a lady!


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Devizes Opendoors Starts Regular Woman’s Group

Good to hear homeless and sheltered charity Devizes Opendoors is planning to open a new session every other Tuesday, for women only.

Promising coffee, crafts and pamper sessions, as well as health and wellbeing awareness, it will be the safe space for women in the community to find clothes, common ground, and oh yes, cake! It begins on 8th November from 10am at the Southbroom Centre on Victoria Road.

Great initiative, Opendoors.


Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts; A New Chapter

Threw my cards on the table, and pitched being Father Christmas at Devizes Winter Festival, but was informed that was arranged by the Town Council…. so, that’s that idea well and truly quashed! It was great, though, to meet Annabel, one half of the new management team of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, to chat on changes and new visions for carnival and the various other annual town events they organise……

It’s been an autumn since I quizzed former DOCA artistic director, Loz, on whether she had a say on choosing people for the role. I was glad her reply confirmed this, through fear fond events like the street festival might get all ‘village fete.’ Make no mistake, keyboard warriors on social media were quick to sound negativity on decisions taken by DOCA recently, but I’d argue Loz justified these rightfully, did an outstanding job stamping her own mark on DOCA. This came to an apex at this year’s street festival, with the mind-blowing Ceres display telling the Ruth Pearce story, something I’d dub Loz’s farewell gift to Devizes. Annabel was due to be production manager on the project, but caught covid, though she praised Baseline Circus who staged it, explaining she’d worked with them before and would use them again for DOCA.

And that’s where we open said episode, continuing from Loz’s input. I’m partly aware of Annabel’s past experience on the festival circuit, I was as pleased as punch to hear she’s taken on the role, and I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA. If one reaction to changes made, such as moving the dates of summer events to spread the workload and effort, not forgoing allowing time for schools to participate better, was this rather insular notion Loz was not from the area. Rather I liked this aspect, Loz bought in acts we otherwise may never have known. Put your pitchforks away, Annabel really is Devizes born and bred. The role though has been split into two, as Bristol-based Ashley takes the artistic side responsible for booking acts; best of both worlds.

“Ashley and I really love that she split the job between us,” Annabel began, “you’ve still got the element of someone who’s got their finger on the pulse of the artists, and I’m from Devizes. But though I’m based here, I’ve got the experience of twenty years of doing different festivals!”

I asked her what festivals, Boomtown, Glastonbury, I knew of. “All of them really,” she responded, “Secret Garden Party, Leeds Festival, and over winter I’ve been working in Edinburgh, so, Hogmanay and their street party. So, quite a lot of variety, but I always come back here.”

Not beating about the bush, my first question was on Street Festival, because personally it’s my favourite! I love that we get these colourful and lively carnival type bands full of brass and blend of gypsy ska-folk type shenanigans, but I’m also keen to suggest the event also highlights local musicians too. I’ve also heard criticism of lengthy changeovers on the stage, where Loz expressed it was to allow for the circus sideshows, of which the sound of would be drained out by bands on stage.

This idea was met in 2019 when Vinyl Realm funded and organised a fantastic second stage, my vision is now driven towards getting local acts on the main stage, rather than it being a ‘bolt-on.’ My pitch suggests if we host a number of acoustic acts between main bands, it wouldn’t drown out the circus acts, would satisfy bar loiterers, and it would highlight our local circuit to an audience who perhaps doesn’t make it out to our pub-venues. I’m pleased she made a note of this, though it was perhaps better put to Ashley, who wasn’t present. “Ashley’s got some great ideas on that,” Annabel replied, “about bringing in different types of acts from different places, and also keeping it accessible locally as well.

She toyed with this word, ‘accessible’ extending it to what’s important to her, “particularly in participation, whatever form that takes, whether it’s volunteering, attending, or performing, I want to make it accessible, finding out what will make it easier for people to enjoy it and in taking part as well.” Fire in the hole, golden opportunity for my summary on people’s, often passionate, feelings about the events, is it’s that delicate balance of pleasing everyone. “That’s the difficult bit,” Annabel confessed, “unfortunately you’re never going to please all the people all of the time, however I think by listening to people and communicating, would really help.”

And in fact, they’ve done precisely this, an online “carnival consultation” survey, which is still open, so too early to analyse results. Based solely on carnival, “because,” she explained, “I think there’s a particularly strong feeling DOCA wasn’t always listening to the people of Devizes, which they were to a certain extent, but maybe the communication wasn’t there, so we’re trying to make it as clear as possible, by opening it up and allowing people to have their say.” Annabel moved onto lower participation levels recently, due to difficulties of the pandemic era being “something we’d really like to address, and find out how we can make it easier for everyone.” A meeting about the results of the survey will follow, and really, you cannot ask for a better response than this, in my humble opinion!

There was one Facebook rant recently, comparing Devizes carnival with Pewsey’s, something I felt a tad unfair as Pewsey’s renowned reputation has taken decades to build, and a carnival is formed by people, Pewsey works because everyone comes out to play. “It takes an awful lot to get it to that level and keep it continuing,” Annabel mused, “it’s not a straight forward thing to do, and throwing in the spanner of a couple of years of nothing happening, and, yeah…” I trailed back to the tricky subject of satisfying everyone.

“The way we want to move forward is taking away the concept of us and them,” she expressed, “it’s all of us together, and that collates what you said as well, it needs to be something that everyone can feel they can get onboard with and get involved with, whether it’s something they’re already familiar with, or shared love of something new.”

If only those so quick to criticise could see, what I described as an iceberg, whereby it’s equal in size underwater as it is above, the inner-working of what it takes to stage these huge town events, they’d not, as dubious they do, take it somewhat for granted. Volunteering at this year’s street festival, which might’ve ended with me just clearing bins, opened my eyes to the mammoth task.

“Yes,” Annabel agreed, “and when you’re doing a good job, it’s when people don’t realise what’s going on behind the scenes, the amount of pre-planning, private funding, all of that sort of thing to bring it together, it’s a huge amount, especially these days when you’ve got all the red tape, but we trying to open it up, find out what’s going to make it easier for people to get involved, and do something about it. There’re a few different ideas we’ve outlined in the consolation, one idea was a ‘makers week,’ which could be weeks prior to carnival, where people who want to make something for carnival can come together and learn different skills.”

‘Together’ was becoming a word of the day, Annabel talking a lot on widening the volunteer spectrum to an almost ‘festival training core’ concept, and between this and her parenthood reasons for wishing to reduce her, what she described as “nomadic” festival life and be based here, “because I just love it,” is whyI came away positive from our chat.

The Winter Festival will be the proof in the pudding, Annabel and Ashley’s first DOCA event; had to wonder if this was possibly the most difficult of them to find a balance. “It’s all systems go,” she replied, “but I’m really excited about it already,” then told of the anticipation surrounding school’s lantern workshops, adding methods for creating similar enthusiasm for carnival.

For some unexplainable reasoning, I commenced waffling about Glastonbury festivals of yore, the different the weather makes, and we settled returning the conversation back to the beginning; changes, after Annabel spoke of Winter Festival’s indoor craft markets. “it’s difficult,” she responded, “but times do change. There’s a lot to be said for tradition, but a lot also to be said for new experiences; it’s about finding the right balance between the two, and making it work for as many people as possible, for the right reasons.”

As I said, I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA, and I sincerely wish Ashly and Annabel the very best with their roles in our delightful carnival committee.


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 19th- 26th Oct 2022

Here’s our weekly summary of things to do over the coming week. It saves you surfing every individual event calendar, and saves me waffling on about some unrelated rubbish, which I admit I have a tendency to do, but in the words of the great philosopher, KC, and, of course, his Sunshine Band; that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it…… oh, I’m doing it again aren’t I?!

Onwards, not forgetting further details and links can be found on our event calendar, it’s too time consuming adding them a second time, and besides, there you can scroll away until your heart’s content, planning future weekends.


Best way to kick off live music early is Swindon’s experimental dub duo, Subject A, are at The Bell on Walcott Street, Bath, on Wednesday 19th; consider it highly recommended. Meanwhile, Beth Nielsen Chapman plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 20th sees a Very Hungry Caterpillar, on show at Neeld Hall, Chippenham.

Mr Love & Justice are at The Beehive, Swindon, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage at Chapel Arts, Bath. But the link to Faustus at Salisbury Arts Centre seems to be broken, unsure if that’s still going ahead.


Friday 21st and Trowbridge’s Pump is the place to be, Matt Owens of Noah & The Whale headlines, with the amazing Concrete Prairie in support.

The magical Lady Nade plays Pound Arts, Corsham, The Little Unsaid at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Hatepenny at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, The Reservoir Hogs at The Old Ham Tree, Holt. And in Marlborough you’ll find @59 at The Wellington, and the incredibly good fun, Dr Zebos Wheezy Club at The Bear.

That just leaves me with the tributes, Queen tribute, Majesty at Melksham Assembly Hall, while Fleetwood Bac are at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Devizes, I have got nothing at all for this Friday, unless you know different? When near-on every known pub in town put live music on last Friday night, with a guaranteed crowd-puller from Longcroft at the Corn Exchange too! This town isn’t a competition, guys, please try to coordinate, through us, if you like, but it works better for you all if we do. Rant over!


Swiftly onto Saturday 22nd, it’s Trowbridge Carnival, plus Lego Club at Chippenham Museum, free and at 3-4pm every Saturday; everything is awesome!

There’s an evening of Irish classics with Asa Murphy and Shenanigans at the Devizes Corn Exchange, and the unmissable Eddie Martin Band is back for some blues at The Southgate.

Daz n Chave at Neeld Community & Arts Centre, Chippenham sounds a laugh, and there’s a Melksham Rock n Roll Club dance this week, with Glenn Darren & The Krewkats.

Full-Tone Orchestra presents their Symphonie Fantastique at Marlborough College, and if you check the quote on the poster, yes, I said that! It’s always nice to be quoted, on the rare occasion I say something nice, that is!

Sheer are down the Trowbridge Town Hall, putting on Lucky Number 7 and the Lindup Brothers, with promising local teen band Boston Green in support. Meanwhile The Forgetting Curve play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. A tribute to Pearl Jam at The Vic, Swindon, Earl Ham, and Tundra plays The Woodland’s Edge.

But if you want to boss the night away with some serious skanking, I cannot recommend Bristol’s legendary ska and reggae skinhead, Ya Freshness, of Strictly Rockers Records enough, who is with his Big Boss Band at Odd Down Football Club in Bath. Fiver a shot for a cracking knees up. In fact, what the heck, let’s make this one Editor’s Pick of The Week!

For a mellower experience in Bath, try The Tom Petty Legacy at Chapel Arts.

The Grief Opera, Love Goes On at St Andrew’s, Chippenham, Shift Social presents I Was Born in the Wrong Decade at Salisbury Arts Centre, and a Vintage Bazaar is followed by Moments of Pleasure, The Music of Kate Bush, at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Halloween Scavenger Hunt at Hillworth Park on Sunday 23rd October, PSG Choir hold an autumn concert at Devizes Town Hall, and the Chas Thorogood Trio play an afternoon session at the Southgate.

Kavus Torabi, Richard Wileman & Amy Fry at The Vic, Swindon, Richard and Amy appear on our Julia’s House compilation album, show them your support if possible. Always in for a great night with the Joh Amor Band, who play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. And oh, CSF wrestling at the Cheese & Grain finishes our weekend off.


Got nothing through the weekdays I’m afraid, but lots of updating to the calendar still to do, so check in from time to time. That is, of course, until Wednesday, the 26th, when White Horse Opera presents L’elisir D’amore at Lavington School, which is running until 29th October, and also running on the same dates, Female Transport at the Rondo Theatre, Bath.

And that’s your lot for this week, can I go now?!


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Song of the Day 45: Funkin Hell

Corporate decision made today with our board of directors to bring back our song of the day feature. Once a regular thing here at Devizine, where rather some in-depth analysis review affair, I just waffle completely irelevantly and allow you to make your mind up about the song.

Firstly though, a few FAQs to hopefully settle any concerns you may have.

Why are you restarting song of the day?
I don’t know.

Why did you ever stop doing song of the day?
I don’t know.

Do you really intend to stick by the idea and publish a song of the day on a daily basis, as the title suggests?
I can’t be completely sure.

Are you simply using song of the day to promote your own hardcore rightwing political bias?
That’s a good question, and one which I’d like to address in good time. But first, let me explain this; under a Labour government significantly fewer song of day features were ever posted, resulting in a very costly operation by the Conservative Party to restore the feature in the traditional manner we, as British citizens, love and honour.

Are you currently smashed on Vimto?
That I cannot be sure of.


Hope that clears everything up, anything else troubling you I advise you seek a doctor, a disco doctor. Now, where was I? Oh yes, song of day is from Tom and Dan and gang, continuing their exceptional lockdown Bootsy Collins thang, as Funkin Hell, which is also, as the name suggests, funky as hell, and hell is funk-tastic, fact.

Zip up your boots, jump back and taste the funk while checking out this 12″ disco biscuit, Music is Medicine, which is fact checked, and I’ve got a repeat prescription for, on a payment plan. Morrisons pharmacy take note; don’t make me queue, booging my booty off, then kissing myself. Not while the good lady wife is shopping for a sausage casserole for my tea.

Personally, I have no qualms confessing to you, I officially freaked out; nice wun Tom and fellow funkmasters.


Concrete Prairie Grace the Calne Music & Arts Festival Finale

So, it was a most memorable evening in Calne last night, and that’s everyone from Devizes leaving the site with insular mumblings of ‘ah, you dunt wanna go down thar, probably get licked in a drive-by shooting!’ Now, I’m not one to get fanatical, but if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, I’ll risk it for the biscuit that is the finale of Calne Music & Arts Festival, because my new favourite thing, Concrete Prairie rang out the rafters with their exemplary blend of Americana.

Witnessing nothing of the preconceptions of smalltown rivalry, Marden House is an architecturally idyllic hall of gardened central location, with grand acoustics to boot. Beneath a plethora of submitted paintings which make up the gallery viewable throughout the fortnight of this long-founded festival, including one particularly striking image from our good friend Clifton Powell, Concrete Prairie played through their exquisite debut album, gave us a taste of what’s to come, and sprinkled it with a few apt covers. In such, they confirmed, short of me pressing my ugly mug on their limo windscreen as they leave a stadium, screeching “I love you, Concrete Prairie,” I’ve, in a relatively short time period, become somewhat obsessive about the wonderful local five-piece; and Americana of this country-inspired landscape isn’t usually my preferred cuppa!

Not wanting to scare them too much, I don’t do fanboy stalker, not with my eclectic tenet of promoting the entire local live music scene and the overabundance of talent here. Like my kids, I never announce my favoured drowning in car scenario preferences, but Concrete Prairie, I’d absolutely jump back in. And it was a more complete concert, rather than the half-hour gig at the sardine tin Beehive during the Swindon Shuffle. Though I mutually agreed with frontman Joe Faulkner, that was a blinding gig, bursting with atmosphere, you wouldn’t want to display your prize paintings on the walls there for the duration! Despite this more concert-based event may’ve been principled and lesser-so unruly, they met with an encore and rousing applause.

It also gave the chance for the band to really push the album tracks, express their thoughts behind the songs and give a more comprehensive show. None of this prior to student friend of Joe’s, M Butterfly, a Brighton-based soloist as support, providing some lush acoustic self-penned songs.

Kicking off with an instrumental guitar and fiddle combo, the drums rolled in for the opening track of their album, Pick up Pieces, after which Joe ate humble pie for the usage of the word “shit,” and livened the mood with the upbeat People Forget, which they did, or least forgave. If the audience were informed the opening song was about fatherhood, the second was more coming of age. Then two covers excellently unfolded, Loudon Wainwright’s Swimming Song, and The Waterboys’ finest hour, Fisherman’s Blues.

The mental health wellbeing themed Bury My Blues followed, and Hard Times took us nicely to an interval. What I didn’t catch at the Beehive was the diversity of Concrete Prairie, all members save drummer Tom Hartley and violinist Georgia Browne, swapping roles and instruments, all taking vocals, particularly the edgier Cash style of Adam Greeves, and accompanying, yet ever as tight and accomplished as they dared. Chatting to them later it was revealed to be too cramped conditions to do such at the Beehive. Here we could really get a better taste of the band, and they exploited this to the full, showing true professionalism in their stage presence and banter.

So, Wine on my Mind bought us back to the stage, with a new song Bound for Heaven, of equal and interesting composition, a solid taster for the sequel album. Joe then revealed a narrative of equality behind I Wish you Well, explaining the Annabel character mentioned was a personification of respect for anyone “different” from them. I mention this to detail the depth of concept in the band’s riddled writing, perhaps part of a job description for country artists, but they do this with the strength of the classics. Talking of which, a pleasing cover of Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman followed; sweet as.

Apologies for losing track at this conjunction, the spellbinding nature took hold, as they drove out their passionate fables with the attention to detail of Springsteen, or mentors, Guthrie and Segar. Often morbid subjects which other bands would refuse to attempt, yes, it can be dark at times. The album’s penultimate Winter Town being a prime example, yet carried off with such sublime precision, it awe-inspiring, Adam taking lead on this one beautifully.

The finale was, what I consider their magnum-opus, at least to-date, The Devil Dealt the Deck, and it came with a lighter explanation then I’d have imagined, but still, it stands as a testament to blanket Concrete Prairie’s range, it’s morose, yet builds in layers to danceable proportions of folk. Though of the ending, an encore was unanimous, and surprisingly, they arrived back on stage for a quick version of the Coral’s uplifting Pass it on, led by birthday boy bassist, Dan Burrows.

I was thrilled to catch this band in Calne, of whom Americana UK awarded a ten-out-of-ten album review, because all praise is thoroughly deserved, and their link to the wonderful Calne Music & Arts Festival was revealed by resident violinist, Georgia Browne, stating her mum was a chief organiser, and she appeared here since she was eight.  The ethos remains for the festival, earlier events promote school choirs and young talent. This was also a marvellous accolade and association, resulting in something of a homely atmosphere, where respect was given. Outside, my opening line in meeting the other band members, aside Joe who I already met, was we really need to get you in Devizes, and they leaked a secret they’re booked somewhere in town very soon. The Southgate I havered a guess, and I believe, without quizzing Deborah, tis true. When they do, wow, I thoroughly recommend you attend and show them what we’re made of!


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Nothing Rhymes Orange, Fact

Oh, for the enthusiasm of emerging talent; new track from Nothing Rhymes with Orange is a surprisingly garage band delight……

My dad never revealed his feelings about being in an amateur teenage band. Though I knew he was, he played down its importance. Sacrificing his guitar for parenthood, he’d shrug and tell me they were never any good, anyway, then explain it was the trend of the era, everyone tried picking up a guitar. A tendency succumbed to electronica and the pop machine of my youth; we grew up hailing the DJ and the sound system. Yet the DIY ethos of swinging sixties is very much revitalised these days, and if there’s lots of current notable young bands on Wiltshire’s circuit, one to watch are called Nothing Rhymes Orange.

But, if it’s fact nothing does rhyme with orange, I confess to know little else about this emerging talent, save they’ve a Devizes connection, recently rocked up Lavington’s Churchill and supported Carsick at The Pump, as Sheer’s incentive to promote upcoming locals never fails to spot greatness. And greatness it is, if raw and somewhat undercooked; such is the delight of discovering a garage band, as they come out of Martin Spencer’s Badger Set studio with a blinding original track this week, Chow For Now.

Garage is an appropriate blanket term, I was pleasantly surprised not to hear some expected grunge-inspired thrash, rather the balance of indie-pop akin to the Coral, with occasional nod to post-punk, when fitting. This sounds garage, yeah, basslines of early Jam, even, which rings out a beguiling riff of contemporary sparkle, not forgoing an original concept for theme. Ah, Scouting for Girls, or more; taking on local favourites like Longcoats and Daydream Runaways.

Immediate like from me, guys; one to watch. Aside another two tunes in the works, you can find Nothing Rhymes Orange supporting Harmer James and Chasing Kites at a Freaky Friday down St James Vaults, Bath on 11th November. Link-tree is here, go figure.

This is what picking up a guitar is all about, albeit to suggest it takes perseverance; likely where my dad’s Who-like wannabes failed, but Nothing Rhymes Orange seem to excel. Guess I’ll never be sure about the first, but I’m certain of the latter.  


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REVIEW – Black Sabbitch@ LSBC, Corn Exchange, Devizes – Friday 14th October 2022

Awesome!

Andy Fawthrop

The Long Street Blues Club season is now in full swing, giving us a second gig within a week, and with several more to come before Crimbo.  Last night was a switch of nights to Friday from the usual Saturday, and of venue from the usual Con Club to the more intimate surroundings of downstairs at The Corn Exchange in The Bin.

Our treat for the night was Los Angeles-based all-female tribute band Black Sabbitch.  They’re now coming towards the end of their Autumn UK tour, and so they were already at full tilt as they hit D-Town.  They served up a stonking two-hour, one set performance that was brim-full of energy, enthusiasm (and volume) as they ploughed through all things Black Sabbath.

There was no support act, nor was any needed.  It would have been a thankless task for anyone to do the warm-up for a band like this.

Right from the outset we had that trademark loud and grinding rhythm section, provided by Angie Scarpa on drums and Melanie Makaiwi on bass.  To be honest, you couldn’t so much hear the bass as feel it, with every deep note seeming to seep right out of the floor.  Good vibrations – oops, wrong band, but you get the point!  Lead guitar featured Emily Burton, and the line-up was completed by Alice Austin on vocals and (occasional) keys.  What followed was a master-class in paying homage to a very British band by four very talented and committed musicians.  The Sabbath fans were there in numbers, cheering every intro and mouthing the words to every song.

Picking up some of the doom-laden back-catalogue, they managed to lift the old material and make it shine somehow brighter.  I wouldn’t necessarily count myself as the country’s greatest Sabbath super-fan, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by how the band managed to nail every number.

It was a rousing set, capped by two well-deserved encores, finished out by (what else?) “Paranoid”.  The only thing wrong with it was that it didn’t last longer!

Another great night – an awesome gig.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 5th November 2022                     Robbie McIntosh Band

Friday 11th November 2022                        Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th November 2022                   Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You


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Lou Trigg, and Some Flowers

Uplifting and sentimental, Flowers is the new song by Chippenham singer-songwriter Lou Trigg very worthy of your attention and playlist. A chorale delicacy, it trickles along sublimely, like staring thoughtfully through a rain-drenched window, nice and cosy, perhaps with a hand painted chipped-mug of lukewarm but earthy tea.……

Lou is a new one on us here at Devizine, and a welcomed blessing, explaining the idea for Flowers is “about loving someone in a long-distance relationship. Like my other songs, it’s very honest and close to my heart.” Which is precisely the way it comes across, if only one good reason to give it a listen.

Long distance relationships, though, do they ever work out, I mean, really? Any parallels from my own life I reminisce as infatuations only! But it’s the thought is, here, more than anything; the fervency of passion is expressed exquisitely through Lou’s hauntingly acute vocals. There’s a touch of folk, reminding me of Daisy Chapman, somewhat, but this euphoric orchestral ambience is the kingpin.

There’s a further five angelic and orchestrally ambient ballads up on Spotify ranging from 2019, unsure if they’ve all been bought to life by Martin Spencer of Potterne’s Badger Set, but Flowers has, and it’s a little piece of gorgeous.


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Two-Tone Icons, The Beat Coming to Swindon and Frome

With Ranking Junior now taking centre stage, the mighty Beat will be heading on tour, taking Swindon, Bournemouth, Leeds, and Hull to get audiences dancing to some of the most famous ska and reggae tracks ever written.….

Ah yes, did a song called “Stand Down Margaret,” if memory serves me well; perhaps a change of name and a little history repeating, fingers crossed.

One of the key bands in the UK ska revival of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, The Beat still bring the near-perfect balance of pop melodies and taut rhythms that made them stars and won them worldwide acclaim.

Based in Birmingham, The Beat released their Smokey cover debut single “Tears of a Clown” through The Specials’ 2-Tone label in 1979. The single went Top Ten in the UK and they soon struck a deal with Arista to distribute on their own Go Feet label.

Their debut studio album ‘Just Can’t Stop’ went Gold in England, and included the now-cult single “Mirror In The Bathroom”. The band’s ferocious live performances and clever blend of personal and political lyrics continue to make them stars to this day, and they’ll be diving into their back catalogue at these new year shows.

And they’re skanking up Swindon on Saturday January 7th, at Meca, tickets are up for grabs now. Also at the Cheese & Grain Frome on March 4th, which is (hint) close to my birthday! Tickets here.


Remembrance Service in Devizes, 2022

Featured image: Remembrance Sunday 2019, Devizes by Gail Foster.

With thanks to the secretary of The Devizes Branch of the Royal British Legion, Vera Richmond, we have some details of this year’s remembrance service in Devizes. An important year, 2022, because it’s the first time since 2019 there has been a full remembrance service….

On Monday the 2nd of November there will be the opening of the Garden of Remembrance at 10.45hrs at the War Memorial.

On Friday the 11th of November there will be a short service at 10.45hrs to Join with the Nation for two minutes silence at 11.00hrs for Armistice Day.

On Remembrance Sunday, the 13th of November, there will be an inspection and parade from the Market Place to St Johns Church in Long Street, where will be a service. Afterwards, the parade will reform in Long Street, and around the War Memorial for the Last Post and two minutes silence at 11.00hrs.

The wreaths will be laid by the Representee of the King, Royal British Legion, local councils and organizations, after the Last Post. The parade will then return to the Market Place, given the salute to the Kings Representee, Mayor and Chairman of The Royal British Legion.

God of our fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, Beneath whose awful hand we hold, Dominion over palm and pine—Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!’

Rudyard Kipling


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 13th -19th October 2022

Here we are again, happy as can be, but slightly older, opps, soz, missed a C, slightly colder! Though we are a week older too, but that means nothing, only as old as you feel. Quite aggravated by chipping ice of the car windscreen this morning though, it’s only October for crying out loud; who do I need to write to about this diabolical travesty?

Still, going out is the new going out, and here’s a lowdown of local stuff to do this coming week. The link you need is HERE, our ever-updating event calendar; you know the score by now.


There’s Craft and Chat at Chippenham Library on Thursday 13th October, and Beauty the Beast: The Guardians of the Forest at the Neeld.

Meanwhile lots still happening at the Calne Music & Arts Festival, with the Music Scholars of St. Mary’s School, Calne, The Primary School Choirs present: ‘Songs from Disney’, Kingsbury Green Academy Music Department in Concert and Tim Hughes presents ‘120 years of the Blues.’

Dick and Dom, yes, I did say Dick and Dom, are in Da Bungalow at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Mitch Benn’s It’s About Time tour takes to the Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Friday 14th, there’s an instore session at Sound Knowledge, Marlborough with Rachael Dadd. Sour Apple at The Condado Lounge, Devizes, while Illingworth play The Three Crowns, and Funked Up funk up the Pelican. But all eyes will on the Corn Exchange in Devizes when Longcroft Productions presents the all-female Black Sabbath tribute, Black Sabbitch; if it’s good enough for Dave Grohl it’s good enough for us!

DJ Stevie Mc holds the afterparty at the Exchange below, Friday nights is retro 80s,90s,00s night, free entry before 11pm.

Calne Music & Arts Festival has a piano recital from Helen Davies, and an evening of traditional Andalusian guitar and flamenco dance.

The astounding acoustic rave act, The Showhawk Duo plays Salisbury Arts Centre, while Erlestoke Golf Club has Barry Paull as Elvis!

Billy in the Lowground at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, The Derellas & Liabilities at The Vic, Swindon, The Chesterfields & Mighty One at the Tree House, Frome, while the Rhythm of the 90s bang out at The Cheese & Grain; sorted.

Impromptu Shakespeare at Rondo Theatre, Bath.


Moving on up to Saturday 15th, when the big Marlborough Mop Fair hits, with Grey Smith at The Bear.

Rockhoppaz at The Southgate, Devizes. Exchange has resident DJ Stevie Mc in the mix. Mick Jogger & The Stones Experience are at Steeple Ashton Village Hall, tickets £15 from their village shop.

Lego Club, never forget Lego Club at the everything-is-awesome Chippenham Museum, 3-4pm, every Saturday. While Wiltshire Museum, Devizes has a Building Materials conference on Industrial Archaeology.

Trowbridge has their annual Apple Festival at Emmanuel’s Yard, while NerveEndings play the Pump, with support from The Sunnies; ah yes, loud and proud.

Over in Swindon, the long-awaited Swindon Paint Fest begins; really good this looks, for all street art fans, head into Swindon Centre over the weekend. And The Moonrakers has The Specialized Project holding a ska fest too. Peloton play The Vic, and Hip Replacements at The Woodland Edge.

Tributes in Chippenham, The Tom Petty Legacy at the Neeld, and The Beatles for Sale at The Pewsham.

Siren plays The Talbot, Calne, which leads me nicely onto my editor’s pick of the week, in a minute, because the Calne Music & Arts Festival reaches its crowning, after Chris Dunn and Genevieve Sioka have a ‘Meet the Artist’ session, and a Photographic Talk titled ‘Down the Mekong, Cambodia and Vietnam’ the grand finale is my editor’s pick of the week……

Editor’s pick of the week……

Concrete Prairie at Marden Hall, Calne

My new favourite thing, Concrete Prairie will be at Marden Hall, Calne as part of the Calne Music & Arts Festival, for a full set. It’s a tenner, seated event, which is going to be tricky if I go, I might just break into my jig down the aisle! Review of their album here.

Anyway, Apache Smoke at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Ion Maiden at The Tree House, Frome, while eighties electronica band Blancmange play The Cheese & Grain; no, never heard of them, far too young!!

Mitch Benn is at Salisbury Arts Centre today, and Rob Auton’s The Crowd Show is at Rondo Theatre, Bath.


I mean, there might be more added as time goes on, but that’s all I got for now; smaller venues, please submit your event listings to us asap, as you are the important ones which we really need to get the information out about. If you make me come find you on social media it never works, because I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really narked off about social media at the moment!


Sunday 16th, then, and Wiltshire Soul & Blues Club have their exclusive monthly jam at the Owl Lodge, Swindon Paint Fest continues, and sax lovers, do check Guinea Lane Saxophones, Pewsey Players and Take Five at Pewsey Heritage Centre.

Highly recommended, Jack Grace Band at the Southgate, Devizss and The James Oliver Band plays The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Blackbeard’s Tea Party and Imprints at The Winchester Gate, Salisbury.

Frome Wessex Camera Fair at The Cheese & Grain, with Ned Boulting in the evening.


Monday, I got nought, but nobody likes Mondays anyway. Ban them, ban them all now!!

Tuesday 18th, Assassins opens at Rondo Theatre, Bath, runs until 21st October, Good Luck, Studio at Salisbury Playhouse, and legendary folk at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, with Steeleye Span.

Wednesday 19th, and Swindon’s dub reggae outfit Subject A are live at the Bell on Walcot Street, Bath, Beth Nielson Chapman at The Cheese & Grain, Frome and don’t forget, Wednesday evening acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, ah, yes.

Have a good week, don’t work too hard; that is a direct order!



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