Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 1st – 7th March 2023

March on! Let’s say no more about the impending spring other than YES!!!! As you might be able to tell, I’m not a winter person. Here’s what we’ve found to be doing this coming week.…….

Find details and tickets links at our event calendar, and plan your month ahead. Watch out though, it’s always updating and more stuff is added all the time!

Wednesday 1st March, finds Harriet Burns’ ballads, bards and minstrels at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilson & Wakeman at Chapel Arts, Bath, and Spirit Of The Dance at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

Regular acoustic night at The Southgate was amazing last week, just as they get everyone organised in a circle, another musician comes in the door! Happens every Wednesday.   

Thursday 2nd and there’s this Wiltshire Council Devizes drop in event to update on work to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town at the Corn Exchange. I had a whinge about this the other day, read here. Good idea as it sounds, it’s on during the morning when the people it really affects will be at school or college. I really feel our younger generation should be included in this, if I’m honest.

Anyway, find Magical Bones at Swindon Arts Centre, Paul McClure & Black Sheep Apprentice at The Tuppenny. Over in Bath, Brooks Williams & Boo Hewerdine’s State of The Union is at Chapel Arts.

Friday 3rd and The Exchange club in Devizes has its second open mic night, some talent down there last time. Well done to Ian for sorting this out, and heard good things about it.

Soul Strutters play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, with Blazin’ Fiddles at the Wiltshire Music Centre.

Larkham & Hall feat: Charlie Rose at Chapel Arts, Bath, and the Shindig lot, always up for a party, have their Shimmy Discotheque with C’est Chic at Walcot House; squidgy house fun!

“ZambaLando” are live at Fiesta de Cuba in Swindon, where the Vic has Phantom Droid, Modern Evils and Froglord, and Sophie Duker’s Hag plays at Swindon Arts Centre.

Saturday 4th sees a Sustainable Devizes swap shop at St James Church.

Then, did I tell you about my 20th birthday?! Is it fair to make this Editor’s Pick of Week? Executive decision; ermm, let’s think, Ruzz Guitar, Talk in Code, Vince Bell, Deadlight Dance, Ben Borrill, yes, I think it’s perfectly fair!

Editor’s Pick of Week this week is the editor’s own inflated ego birthday bash at the Three Crowns, Devizes, but in fairness we have got free live music all day, where I’m hoping Ben will kick us off at around 4pm, and from there Vince is on at 5pm, Deadlight Dance at 6pm, Talk in Code at 7:30pm and Ruzz Guitar Trio from 9pm. Hopefully there will be some other guests, you are all welcome, bring cake. Note the pub is open as usual, this is NOT a private invite, you are welcome. Note, they serve food until 9pm, and it’s card-only at the bar, but bring some cash and we’ll have a whip round for the Devizes & District Opportunity Centre.

Over at the Wharf Theatre they’ve Olive Oatman for one night only, the story of an American woman celebrated in her time for her captivity and later release by Native Americans in the Mojave Desert region when she was a teenager.

Sad to have to miss Barrelhouse who play The Southgate. And DJ Stevie MC is at the Exchange.

Heading southwest, Triple JD Band play The Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, and Jason Rebello & Tim Garland’s Life to Life is presented at Wiltshire Music Centre.

The Saviours Collective at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Sour Apple are at The Phoenix, Wotton Bassett. A karaoke warm-up for the My Dad festival, My Dad’s Wackier Than Your Dad! at The Castle, Swindon, Will Lawton & the Alchemists at The Hop Inn, Just Floyd at The Vic, Homer at The Sun in Coate, Showaddywaddy at the Wyvern Theatre, Eshaan Akbar: The Pretender at Swindon Arts Centre, Swindon

There’s an intimate evening with Zion Train at the Tree House in Frome, with The Beat featuring Ranking Junior at The Cheese & Grain.

Sunday 5th Avebury Spiritual and Psychic Fayre at Avebury Sports & Social Club from 10:30-4pm, free entry.

Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs plan a protest at Devizes Police HQ from 1pm, to protest about the promotion of alleged fox hunter Cheryl Knight into the rural crime unit.

At 5pm, if I’m still standing, I’m invading The Southgate for 5pm, for the regular monthly Jon Amor residency with Jim Crawford as guest of honour.

Talis Kimberly plays The Tuppenny in Swindon.

The awesome Junkyard Dogs are at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, while WYJO with Jason Rebello and Tim Garland play at Wiltshire Music Centre.

Monday 6th I’ve found nothing, but you know, it is Monday! Whoa there, Nellie: update, a brand new open mic session at The Lamb in Marlborough has been announced, first one Monday 6th at 8pm. Facebook group here.

Tuesday 7th Blood Brothers at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

That’s your lot, have a great week and I hope to see you Saturday; you are permitted to buy me a pint, as long as it’s not semi-skimmed.

Looking forwards, you need to snap up a ticket for the Open Doors charity night at the Corn Exchange on Saturday 11th, support this great cause, and if you’ve never heard Chloe Jordan sing before you’re basically missing one of life’s most extraordinary occurrences.


Gazette & Herald to Buy Out Devizine

In a deal I’ve been trying to clench for a year now, Newsquest, owners of Wiltshire based newspapers, including the Gazette & Herald have taken…

Wharf-ing Back To Happiness!

Do you remember the wonderful sounds of The Shadows and The Tornadoes beaming across the airwaves from Radio Caroline with their spellbinding instrumentals; Apache, Foot…

Song of the Week: Talk in Code

You can’t stay on the sunny side of the street; you’ve got to cross over at some point. But if the blurb I’m sent for…

Concrete Prairie at The Southgate

Without cloning technology it was another Saturday night dilemma still as easily solved; Concrete Prairie were at The Gate, arm twisted…. From The Barge to…


SGO Release Live Album from The Southgate

Late November last year I took the Southgate’s landlady Deborah on her word, and it paid off; a word you should never doubt when it comes to bands booked. She told me Swindon ensemble SGO are “an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” On this chancer I dropped in and it was a pleasant surprise, such an apt band for the pub.

At the time I described it thus, “Brimful of sea shanties, hornpipe, parissienne and gypsy jazz, with subtle hints of Americana and country blues, SGO are both charming and accomplished. Melodically harmonising through geetars, fiddle and accordion, they reaffirm folk is the backbone to all modern musical genres, and launch preconceived notions of frumpiness within the modern scene out into the stratosphere.”

But hey, ain’t nobody got time to copy and paste anymore, you can read the full review HERE. All you need to know is, it was a brilliant gig, and now you don’t even need to take my word for it, if anyone ever does, because they’ve released it as a live album, Bandcamp download only. It’s one of those you listen back to and realise it wasn’t just a cider leakage in the brain, it really was as good as I recall. But if you didn’t attend here’s a taster of the Southgate at its best, for the recording contains the typical atmosphere and background noises, including George the pub dog, who seemed to approve.

Live is best for the rowdy pub folk of this kind, and this recording will put you right in the very spot of a most memorable gig, and if you attended or not, will ache you to catch them next time they’re around.

I’ll say no more…. have a listen.


Song of the Week: Lewis McKale

Song of the week this week comes from Brighton’s singer-songwriter Lewis McKale, a Billy Bragg-ish harmonica and guitar combo breakup song from his forthcoming album,…

Danny, Champion of the Food Bank

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Song of the Week: Lucky Number Seven

Bristol’s purveyors of emotive post-grunge verging on etherealwave, Lucky Number Seven get our song of the week today, for their latest burst of harrowing energy,…

The First Ever Devizes Pride Announced

If establishing Pride events in our cities and larger towns is sooo last decade, darling, we’re both keen and overjoyed to join the newer trend…

Unsurprised Alchemy: Will Lawton & The Alchemists Played The Pump

Roundabouts of Wiltshire, I usually just drive around them, that is, after all, their purpose. Saturday evening, I parked in the middle of that big one in Trowbridge; you know the one, all roads lead there, probably driven around it a thousand times. But I knew it was there and like the rest of my night, nothing came as a big surprise.….

Though to assume “unsurprised” conotes negative couldn’t be further from the truth. The carpark is for patrons of the town’s The Lamb, a handsome unassuming flagship Waddies, with a pump room aback converted into a music venue. Unsurprised by this because I’ve known about the Pump for years, sent reviewers there, plus every musican who’s played it speaks highly, and gasps in shock if I reply I’ve yet to frequent it.

Simple reason being gigs are more often than not on Fridays, unsuitable for my rota. But to pinch an idiom from Sheer Music promoter Kieran J Moore himself, which he often uses to describe a band he’s booked, The Pump is “punching above its weight” when it comes to local live music venues, casting off any ill-conceived notions Vegas is a cultural void, and affirming our county town on the UK’s grassroots venue map.

Sheer Music itself is a stamp of authenticity, your assurance of a quality gig, and here is its headquarters. KJM not in attendance tonight, but their Will Riker, Megan made the perfect host, with a joy impossible to hide spoke of their delight at the helm of the Pump; I’m equal in delight to have finally ventured here.

But it’s a triple-whammy of unsurprised delights, as headlining is the fantastically unique Will Lawton and the Alchemists, a raggle-taggle ensemble of skilled Chippenham, and Malmesbury musicans impossible to pigeonhole. On the strength of recommendations, our review of their latest EP Alchemy, and Will’s solo tracks he’s contriubted to our Julia’s House compilation, I was assuredly in good hands.

They were everything I imagined they would be, splashed with a touch more. Sublimely distinctive and individual, quirky and acomplished, the result was spellbinding musical alchemy (as it suggests on the tin,) the variety to force your eyes closed and dream abstract visual accompaniments but sqint at intervals to amaze yourself at just how they create it.

These original enchanted compositions are performed on keys by Will himself with poignant lead vocals, guitarist Ami Kaelyn with emotive side vocals akin to Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky, Buddy Fonzarelli on an eletric four-string upright bass and as witty as they come, sophisticated engine room drummer and live sample trigger Weasel Howlett, and classically trained, multi-instrumental Harki Popli usually adding an eastern flavour on tabla drums but unable to attend tonight.

There’s often psychological and astronomical themes to make Brian Cox’s toes curl, but it’s always with this drifting, beautiful ambience.

After the perfect ambience of their lengthy EP tracks, kicking off with the Bricks single, moving onto Dust, and earlier compositions like Soul Sneeze, they break them down with hilarious banter of equal skill. It’s avant-garde, only comparable with those who pushed musical boundaries for pushing musical boundaries; from Mozart to Flyod, Zeppelin to Giorgio Moroder, Scott Joplin to Scratch Perry, and I’ll give you King Tubby to A Guy Called Gerald as The Alchemists occasionally slip into idiosyncratic drum and bass with a breathtaking outcome. This is jazz, this is indie-folk, this bears hallmarks of classical, soul, psychedelia, of everything gone before and a hint at what’s to come.

If I get narked by Oasis being compared to the Beatles I retort they’re retrospective, the Beatles were progressive, and the Alchemists are far closer to what we could predict they’d be putting out today, to rinse the sincerity from Stevie Wonder’s parental pride anthem, Isn’t She Lovely, with a tune called Daughter, yes, it really is on this level.

But maintaining a down-to-earth charisma it’s warts and all, as if the music comes naturally and they’re in its playground. Similar could be said for the supporting act, as I did say this was a triple-whammy. With a forthcoming tour, they hid their identity with the anagram, Slotted Hearts, to perform a trial-and-error inaugural showcase of the new album, but like I also said, nothing came as a surprise as I teased Tamsin Quin, one third of the Lost Trades, that I sussed it because I’m good at anagrams. This was, of course, bullshit, I just noted they were attending via the Facebook event page!

And a wonderful set they were already in swing of upon my arrival, The Lost Trade’s second album is the perfect progression of their debut we reviewed a week ago. Our beloved vocal harmony modern-folk trio are going from strength-to-strength, destined for the deserved greatness they work so hard for. Their performance was as they said it would be, we were guinea pigs to replicating the album live, and if a few hitches were expectedly made, they were subtle at best. But humbly excusing themselves was unnecessary. If this was an insight into what’s to come, you need to be there when it goes off. It was a stunning performance, sublimely introduced, end of.

But it’s the informal setting, you see? The kind of safehouse where The Lost Trades can experiment, the kind of music appreciation society open to interpretation, with walls adorned with brass instruments and other random paraphernalia, wonky steps up to a seated balcony, and crossed beamed with an invition for appearing acts to graffiti their names upon. It’s quirky, non-pretenious, and exceptionally hospitable; it’s got my name all over it. A little haven of music I wished I’d trekked to a lot sooner, but I’ve done it now, and I’m not looking back.

Sellout gigs I hope will encourage them to open Saturdays more often, their programme chockful of selected delights, which, more often or not, are the upcoming named must-sees. The Pump’s collaboration with Sheer is a match made in heaven, and if your vision of heaven is a quirky backroom blessed with a plethora of our best musical activities, The Pump is the direction you need to be looking.

Through the ambient nature of Will Lawton, and the mellowness of The Trades, I take to wonder how lively post-punk bands like Carsick fair here, Megan confirmed they were stage diving like a moshpit, so aside this venue’s quaintness, diversity matches its brilliance.

How Ingrained is Hunting on our Society Given Police are Members of Criminal Gangs?

Of course, today’s opinion rant comes from news Wiltshire Police have promoted officer Cheryl Knight to the rural crimes department despite allegedly being a member of the Beaufort Hunt and has previously ridden with the notorious Avon Vale Hunt. The public outrage of such has spawned a planned protest on 5th March at Devizes Police HQ….

It should hardly come as a shock to those who follow social media of anti-hunt groups like Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs, as we’ve seen many attempts by hunters to infiltrate the police, and video evidence of police deliberately being awkward with sabs by blocking paths and siding with hunters. Recently we’ve seen it with another hunt member PC, Laura Hughes who turned a blind eye when hunters attacked protesters at Lacock’s Boxing Day meet. And at top level, with former Avon Vale huntsmaster Jonathan Seed defunct from the PCC election and current PCC Phillip Wilkinson’s open derogatory remarks about anti-hunt protesters.

But if bent cops sounds like something from an American thriller movie, no one’s as bold to suggest all Wiltshire Police support hunting. It’s a huge organisation employing many, therefore fair to assume the bad eggs are a minority.

However, their official reaction to the outrage this news has caused, defending Cheryl Knight and warning protesters they will be “seeking independent guidance from other agencies to ensure the protest is in line with those peaceful and lawful requirements and to ensure the Devizes community is not adversely impacted,” borders retaliation to public outcry. Reading between the lines, anyone so much as sneezes at the protest and they’ll shut it down. Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs stressed to me, “that’s how we read it too. Well, if they want even more bad publicity…”

It causes me to ponder just how far this rabbit hole goes; how ingrained by the traditions of hunting is this in our society? You may not stop to consider it while watching a children’s cartoon with anthropomorphised characters whereby the fox is nearly always portrayed as a “baddie,” or dining in a local pub, where your dinner is served on a pictorial plate adorned with a scenic landscape and a fox hunt in progress, or similarly on a painting on the wall, but in this glorification of the blood sport, these connotations of the fox spelling trouble, is it our own psychological Colston statue?

“You cannot erase history,” gammonites remark of the statue debate, and I retort with “poppycock!” For historical references in literature will always be, but a statue glorifies and celebrates the slave trade, ergo, is counterproductive to progress against racial discrimination. Likewise, the paintings in the pub, the common pub name, The Fox and Hounds, should they be changed? They clearly idealise this barbaric pastime.

My ponderings stem from a Facebook thread this week, by Devizes Town Councillor Chris Greenwood, (yes, the one who blatantly lied about Defra confirming bird flu on the Crammer) on his own general local affairs group, Devizes News. In posting news of Cheryl Knight’s promotion, he stated, “this group will not tolerate any form of detrimental, nor hateful comments associated with this article. The officer concerned has done nothing illegal whatsoever, and their appointment has been with the full approval of Wiltshire Police. Any false accusations or comments will result in the person posting being excluded from the group.”

It was simply too tempting, and inadvertently my reply, “so, why post it then?” saw me promptly barred from the group, along with a handful of others. But seems the temptation was deliberate for no sooner as we were gone, he posted again, boasting, and celebrating, “it was time for a clearout of activists, bigots and those motivated by negativity.”

Quite where the negativity in opposing the promotion of a possible criminal within the governing body supposed to prevent crime is supposed to derive from will forever confound me. Alas, adjoining various comments like a jigsaw, Chris made in this thread might shed some light on why he, like so many others, are so pro-hunting. Unable to respond to one question given by a concerned so -called bigot, Chris took a trip on memory bliss, and waffled a random interminable history of his affection for horse riding. One might assume this was irrelevant, but further on when we were discussing the social media posts of lists of local companies alleged to be in support of the Avon Vale Hunt, he highlighted a sponsorship of a pony club. So, herein lies his justification for supporting hunting; Avon Vale sponsored the club where his fond memories of riding begun. Ergo, he’s reminiscence through rose-tinted specs is clouding his judgment to the reality it’s a bloodthirsty pursuit, and I’d wager is not alone in this view.

I could agree, horse riding is okay by me, but you don’t need to take a pack of bloodhounds along to bludgeon a fox to death to enjoy it, surely? Though I fear it will fall on deaf ears. Hunts have spent decades and countless fortunes I could only dream of, to ensure their brutal activities are ingrained so deep into our society, economy and way of life, the rose-tinted specs wearers will only ever view it as a harmless tradition, because they’re trained to by showers of gold sent their way and into charities and causes.

Ergo, when a clear conflict of interests invades our police, these folk shrug, and state the officer concerned has done nothing illegal. So, given innocent until proven guilty, we should ask Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs if they’ve any proof of the contrary. “Her main association seems to be the Beaufort,” Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs explained, “that is where most of her hunting images were taken. She also has photos of her at Avon Vale meet, and also photos of her attending beagle meets (hare hunts).”

Besides, the point isn’t whether she has, or hasn’t, the concern lies within her power to sway, ignore, or pervert the cause of justice in such matters she’s so clearly bias in. Does this mean the protest is focused entirely on her promotion, being it would seem there’s other pro-hunting officers?

“At this moment it’s focused on the fact that a fox hunter has been appointed,” they continued, “but I guess the wider issue is who appointed her – and the appalling response they gave. There are other serving officers that have hunted with the Avon vale, which we also oppose, but to be placed into a role like this, particularly in the middle of an investigation by her new team, into the Avon Vale video just is crass beyond belief. It’s a direct breach of the Code of Ethics which Wiltshire Police are refusing to address.”

We live now in the aftermath of the national media exposure of video evidence proving The Avon Vale Hunt illegally fox hunted, its impact is this undeniable proof you’d have thought would be a catalyst to change, but this latest outcry suggests otherwise.

All my meanderings seem to return to a same point, the point in the video where they successfully pulled the fox out from the dig and threw it to the hounds, and one young hunter shrieks with delight like a little girl getting a pony for Christmas! If hunting was to cull a pest, that’s clearly in past, there’s few foxes left in the countryside, and the shrill of delight reverbs the acknowledgement, is symbolic that this is done purely for fun, the thrill. You don’t see an insect exterminator cry with joy when he clears your home of ants!

So, if you support this in any way, do you deserve to be called out for it regardless of how little your association with the hunts may’ve been formed upon, excusable by ignorance to the notion they were definitely killing wildlife, until now?

Yet while many companies and organisations have found themselves having to publish statements attempting to defuse their association with Avon Vale, or hunting in general, Wiltshire Police seem none too fussed, rather promoting officer Cheryl Knight to the rural crime unit, and have defended their decision to maintain the PC in the role. Others listed, such as ice cream cafe, The Rowdey Cow were quick to announce their association was only to vendor at one of their events, and it’s not just because they make exceptional ice cream, I’m willing to forgive that(!) rather sigh, that’s just business.

The Rowdy Cow I trust has sufficient trade to do without the association now, and hope they do. The last thing anyone wishes by way of boycotting businesses loosely associated with the hunts, is to bring any more damage on our rural economy. Yet Wadworth’s only line of defence seemed to be their association was “historic.” Should we forgive that too, because of the passage of time? Our councillor Greenwood on his pro-hunting rant seemed to suggest this, that the images of Knight hunting was the stuff of ancient history, leading me to ponder how old is she? From recent photos she looks late twenties, so it could only have been after 2004, when the Hunting Act was introduced, not so long ago for us old-timers, Chris!

Forgiveness only ever seems to be when the boot fits. The public don’t seem too keen to forgive Shamima Begum anytime soon, but views Piers Morgan as this cheeky chappie with a penchant for a few offensive comments, rather than the bastard who wrecked a teenage girl’s murder inquiry by hacking her phone. He took personal monetary gain over the life of a child, for Heaven’s sake, but hey, he’s on the tele. I like to call this the “Jimmy Saville Effect,” he raised these incredible amounts of money for charity, so should he be forgiven for paedophilia, necrophilia, and whatever other sick fetishes he performed? Equally, should we forgive hunters if their hunting is all in the past?

I believe this is simply another desperate excuse from pro-hunting lobbies. It matters not if or when Knight hunted, only that she is in support of hunting. To suggest her affiliation with the hunt wouldn’t affect her ability to carry out the role of a rural crime officer is completely and utterly ludicrous. The public know this, it’s hardly rocket science, and the public have the right to voice their outrage at this poor decision. After all, we do pay for the police, they are governed by law, but paid for by the taxpayer. Wiltshire Police make many a statement about building a rapport with the public and how they “serve them,” surely this is the ideal opportunity to prove this ethos right?

But it’s a small piece of a larger puzzle. Akin to the suffragette movement, anti-hunting will look blindly obvious to future generations if we can wash away this ingrained perception. The police’s involvement in watching over so-called trail hunts will be viewed as the massive waste of resources they clearly are, for if hunt organisations cannot be trusted the only solution is to ban them, and eradicate this insane affiliation to blood sports once and for all.

So, to people who share Chris Greenwood’s obsolete and atrocious opinions and see fit to censor opposing views, I say you’re foolish to think you can silence me. Not one to boast stats, but Devizine is read by the number of members in your petty group times a thousand. In a media war you’re the Gassworks Gang and I’m the American military! Accept the majority are anti-hunt, and will share this beyond way Facebook, until its long out of my control, folk will rightfully gather to sound their disgust at this barbaric activity, and the authorities which permit it to continue despite the indisputable evidence.

Their days are numbered, if we throw off our ingrained bigotry and accept it, that is quite possible. It wouldn’t hurt to show your humane side. And in saying that, no one wishes to send Cheryl Knight to the stocks, only to advise she is moved to a department free from her bias. So patently obvious it’s staring everyone in face and making them angry enough to have to spell it out by reacting on offensive social media posts, with disregards to the idea they’ll be futility chastised by a power-tripping would-be tinpot dictator! Knockers I say unto thee, Devizes News indeed, the bastard son of GB News?! Lest we forget come local election time.

Song of the Week: Deadlight Dance

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of the Week time…. I’m just amazed with myself that I’ve actually committed to this new regular feature for a whole month, incredible!

This week, it’s post-punk eighties alternative/goth duo Deadlight Dance. Tim Emery and Nick Fletcher are a rekindled two-fifths of a Marlborough’s St Johns six form band and released a debut single this week, Missives from the Sisters.

Out on Ray Records, a debut single from a forthcoming album Beyond Reverence, due later this the year. This sullenly emotive tune of darkwave rings alarms for a reawakening of the gothic rock genre, once emblematic of Marlborough. I was just 14 when I moved there from Essex, it was a culture shock as we didn’t have goths in the motherland of shopping and stilettos, doubt we even had black hair dye, but I quickly realised the importance of liking the Cure, if I wanted to snog any girls!

Recorded at Nick Beere’s Chisldon studio, Mooncalf, the duo play The Crown in Aldbourne tomorrow (23rd Feb,) and The Plough in Shalbourne on Saturday March 4th, after dropping in for a 6pm-ish slot at my birthday party down the Three Crowns, Devizes….I’ve told you about my birthday, haven’t I? It’s okay, if you come too, I pinky promise not to try and snog you!

Devil’s Doorbell Live EP from the Pump

It’s any wonder if this bonkers jazz skiffle duo found a double-entendre in the name of Trowbridge’s finest live music venue, The Pump, when they visited at the beginning of the month in support for Jaz DeLorean, being they’re the boater’s royalty of euphemisms, but at least they did find time to release a recording of the occasion……

A judiciously selected four-track EP acting as a teaser for this asinine pair, Devil’s Doorbell is up on Bandcamp, recorded live at The Pump by the man Kieran J Moore, and while it might be some way from Dark Side of the Moon, it’s a half-hour of carefree jollity your life might yet depend on.

In true circus cabarert and homemade instruments, Nipper plays tenor banjo and kazzumpet, while Jellylegs Johnson is on the washtub bass, and both tend to finish each other’s lyrics with hilarious consequences over some good ol’ foot-tapping scrumpy and western flavoured skiffle. Take it no more seriously than this.

Rife with retrospective euphemistic rhymes, rudeness is abound from the start, mocked in goofy George Formby subtlety, Carry-On titillation and Pythonesque nonsense; it’s a west country thing! My Girl’s Pussy opens the EP, reminiscent of Eric Idle’s Noel Coward charade, Penis Song. Hot Nuts continues the ooh matron theme, while a slip of self-fashioned blues plays out with When I Get Low I get High, and we’re back to square one with Rattle Snakin’ Daddy. Dammit though, it’s frolicking fun now, would’ve tickled the 1930s New Orleans high-energy jazz circuit pink, if only they were allowed in with wellies!

If it’s jazzy it’s silly in equal measure, yet with one eye squint you can envision yourself haphazardly perched on a log in dew-drenched tallgrass, near a Kennet & Avon towpath, swigging flat cider and thoroughly soaking up every minute, particularly during those random moments when they up the tempo.  

And if you like this audacious audio, the stage show is the visual treat you’d expect from those crazy west country boaters, all props, burlesque, and silly hats, and you couldn’t contemplate a better way to tickle the fancy and warm the crowd in your humble boozer, other than a real ringing of the devil’s doorbell. You can book them at your own risk, HERE.


An Amazing Devizes Concert for Opendoors

All images used with permission of Gail Foster If of recent I’ve been critical about counterproductive steps taken to solve the rise in youth crime,…

Potterne, and its Festival

It’s one Devizine overlooked somewhat last year, arranged rather last minute, clashed with Full-Tone, but was still a 1,250-strong sell-out nonetheless. Potterne is not all…

Song of the Week: Sara Vian

Normally Wednesday, Song of The Week, but I was having one of those Wednesday days, you know the sort, too middley aren’t they, bit gloomy?…

Stay Out of Trouble! Wiltshire Council’s Drop-In Event Targets Young Criminals Only

Ka-pow, ker-runch, ker-splat! Fear not good citizens of Devizes, waftastic Wiltshirecouncilman is here to save us from the evil delinquent Dylan and the Acne Street Gang! The devastating plan is to hold a “drop-in event to update on work to reduce youth anti-social behaviour in the town,” at the Corn Exchange from 9:30am to noon on Thursday 2nd March; that’ll give them a ruddy good telling off for sure!

Does anyone else see an immediate flaw in the plan? By very definition it’s counterproductive. Wiltshire Council send out a powerful message to our youth; their crimes are unacceptable, but we’re all fine with crimes committed by older people. Why not drop the “youth” tagline all together, and see any crime committed by any age with the same degree of urgency? Just, y’ know, a fleeting notion of fairness.

Way to go to marginalise society and section off a particular group according to age, that’s sure not to stoke the fire. And when can we expect a similar event to tackle crimes committed by adults, pray tell?!

We have a current issue in Devizes with some wayward youths, no one can deny it, it’s no secret, but from a minority. That’s the crucial point, all pigeonholing them is going to do is encourage a barrier between age groups and welcome more teenagers into the rut; you’re only going to make matters worse, you blind and foolish old fuddy-duddies!

We cannot expect to obtain upstanding young citizens by tarnishing them all with the same brush. Still social media is awash with pitchfork welding folk, condoning medieval punishments, and admin of these groups fail to deal outrageous comments promoting vigilante violence; look at yourself, publishing your futile online vengeance on youths, and still then ponder why they rebel so. Ever heard of a thing called an endless circle?

Places of real-life social interaction are no better, full of elders firing daggers from their eyes at any younger person who happens to pass by. I’ve spoken to young people about their fear of going into cafes for the dirty looks they’ll receive, despite doing no wrong and not having any intentions of. What else is there here for them to do, where do you expect them to go?

Cllr Peter Hutton, Portfolio Holder for Safeguarding at Wiltshire Council said of the event, “this will be an informal and interactive morning where you can talk to the people who are working with Devizes residents in all sorts of ways with a common goal of making the town a safer place to live.” But what about the people who this really effects most? We must readdress the balance here, focus too on the victims, not just the criminals. Children and young people are disproportionately more likely to be victims of crime, particularly the most serious crimes, by any age group including their own. And where are the group most affected by this issue between the set hours of 9:30-noon? At school or college most likely.

The very fact they’ve been excluded from this event sends a shiver up my spine. It’s as if to say they’ve no valid point to bring to the table, or any they might have, are worthless, amidst this wealth of grownup’s experience. Why not make the time later, so it’s convenient to all to cast their views? Why not bring this “roadshow” to schools and colleges?

As we age it’s all too easy to forget how it feels to be younger, but not giving young people the benefit of the doubt is detrimental to them reacting angrily against the system. I may’ve been criminalised in my youth, but day-to-day I forget those occurrences, wish I was that age again, only because I view it through rose-tinted specs. It was never as easy as memory serves me. I rebelled, and much of the anguish came from my elders; the powers that be, parents, et al. They never understood, I felt trapped, a child in an adult world, and reacted with rebellious anger. Why? Because it was a thrill to, it exposed a crack in the boredom, an escape.

Yet top-heavy Conservative thinking Wiltshire Council and Police are backing a government which has acted far worse than these few wayward kids. They’ve lied their way through government, they’ve profited and partied while ordinary folk watched their loved ones die. They continue to drain every penny out of public services, to reduce the education budget to the point the teachers must strike, they’re determined to increase the poverty divide to line their own pockets, and we ignore it in order to focus on some naughty children. They are hardly setting the shining example of moral upstanding citizens. As Michael Jackson said, “if they wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Or perhaps a more poignant musical quote could come from Woody Guthrie, “some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” Purchase a security light for your home if you favour being robbed by the energy companies rather than some hoodlums in your shed at night.

Here’s a better plan, councillors, et al who follow the blue rosette, resign from your Conservative Party, and stand independently. Show them you don’t side with criminals before invoking your hypocrisy on the youth. For our young are no fools, and I, for one, salute them for taking a stance, I applaud their patience and endurance with the disgusting way they’re being treated.

Some will resort to crime, it’s a terrible thing, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, and I certainly would never condone it. But they’re not alone as a generation; history proves time-over during eras of abject poverty crime will increase. It’s not a problem with “youth of today” rather a problem with a minority of youth, historically. Rubbing their faces in it, plotting behind their backs isn’t going to help.

Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, an advocate of conservatism, says of the event, “this is a great opportunity for members of the public to hear first-hand the importance of the work that is being done as a result of the Home Office funding to tackle youth anti-social behaviour in the Devizes area and focus on ways to help prevent it.” But what’s his views on rural crime in general, to have called hunt saboteurs only gathering evidence of crimes committed by those who should be considered mature enough to know better, “balaclava wearing thugs,” when we’ve all seen the recent concrete evidence as to who the real thugs are?

The only smidgen of positive came from inspector Ben Huggins, Devizes sector Policing Inspector, who said, “we recognise that there are some anti-social behaviour issues in Devizes at the moment. We are and have been tackling them. My officers will always respond swiftly and robustly to reports of this nature; however, we know more needs to be done and this is not a problem that can be solved by us the police alone. So, this initiative is very much welcomed – involving not only the agencies we already work with but the wider community.  Hopefully, we can all resolve this problem by working together.”

It goes without saying, we offer our eternal thanks to the bobby on the beat. I certainly don’t envy their job at times like these, and in having to deal with the issues which arise from this, but there’s radical thinking we need to put on the table in order to tackle it, not the seemingly militant stance of conservatism. Communication with the youth is key, obviously, for crying out loud, including them in events like this, allowing them a voice.

Give a little to take a little, isn’t it? Treat them with respect and that respect will come back to you; see if it doesn’t, but apply something out of Robocop it will never be solved and we just go round in circles. I welcome the idea of this gig, but if they wished to build bridges, making it time appropriate for those most affected to attend would be logic, really, one would’ve thought, or are we just a community of hypocritical pitchfork welding rednecks?

Actually, don’t answer that one!

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 22nd – 28th February 2023

Last week of February, then; winter, do one! Lots going on as ever, so let’s not beat around the bush, because left to my devises I know I tend to waffle, and no one ever just stops me and gives it, “just get on with telling what’s happening, for crying out loud, man!”

I do need to say this though, as usual, more information and ticket links can be found at our ever-updating event calendar. If your event is not on there you didn’t tell us about it, no fault of mine! I do this shit for free, but I ain’t going to chase you up! Tell us about it next time, bring cake.

Wednesday 22nd and Visual Radio Arts stream one of our favourite bands on the circuit, Concrete Prairie, into the comfort of your own front room. If you’ve not seen this band before, do not miss this. Meanwhile it’ll be the regular acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Theatre Accord in association with The Production Exchange Ltd. Presents She at Swindon Arts Centre, charting the experiences of different women from childhood to old age, these stories, each with an intriguing twist, are visceral, poignant, and laced with humour.

Prue Leith’s Nothing in Moderation is at Bath Forum, with Grace Campbell’s A Show About Me(n) at Komedia.

Thursday 23rd sees an open mic at Stallards in Trowbridge.

National Theatre Live with Othello at Pound Arts, Corsham.

Concrete Prairie’s name crops up again, they’re with Cooper’s Creek at The Tuppenny, Swindon, while Kotonic and Failstate play the Vic, with a debut tour for comedian Chloe Petts at Swindon Arts Centre.

Tribute Local Cohen play the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, while Eleanor McEvoy is at Chapel Arts, Bath, “Swiftogeddon,” Taylor Swift club night at Komedia, and Michael Jackson tribute show at Bath Forum.

Regular children’s Music 4 Fun session at Brown Street, Salisbury.

Friday 24th Always a great night with the Celtic Roots Collective, who play The Pelican in Devizes.

Over in Trowbridge, chap-hopper Thomas Benjamin is at the Pump.

Native Harrow: Old Magic Tour at Pound Arts, Corsham.

The Jerry Lee Lewis Story at Chapel Arts, Bath, while The Fleetwood Mac Story is at Bath Forum, and cabaret night at Komedia with The Ministry Of Burlesque.

Riot Ensemble at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Gary Delaney’s Gary in Punderland comes to the Wyvern, Swindon, while tribute Dire Streets play Swindon Arts Centre, and Rush tribute Moving Pictures are at The Vic.

AC/DC tribute Livewire at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and an intimate evening with Will Varley at The Tree House.

Saturday 25th and it’s Devizes Lions’ Fashion Show at the Devizes Conservative Club, Gardna arrives at The Muck & Dunder, Bone Chapel are at The Southgate, Scott Browne is at The Three Crowns, and Sour Apple play at The Lamb. The Wharf Theatre hosts the Apollo Theatre Company’s Ode to Joyce, about the songs and monologues of Joyce Grenfell.

As if there wasn’t enough to choose from in Devizes, I’m out of town for our Editor’s Pick of Week; Will Lawton and the Alchemists are at The Pump in Trowbridge, and it’s a double-whammy if I’ve correctly sussed the anagram of the support act; “Slotted Hearts!”

Hairy Stars at The Neeld, Chippenham.

Mickey Ace & The Wildcards play Melksham Rock n Roll Club, and Mixed Bag play The Pilot.

Phoenix River Band play Chapel Arts, Bath, while Suzanne Vega is at Bath Forum.

Ravers head for The Vic, Swindon, where Midlife Krisis crew are in effect, with a Diversify night.The Blind Lemon Experience play The Swiss Chalet.

Salisbury Arts Centre have Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood.

And a Retro Electro night at The Cheese & Grain, Frome completes our Saturday.

Sunday 26th sees Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club at the Wyvern, Swindon, while there’s a secret session at the Vic, with Mickelson.

Simon Brodkin’s Screwed Up is at Komedia, Bath.

Monday 27th sees Gigspanner Big Band play Swindon Arts Centre.

Tuesday 28th and KT Tunstall is at Bath Forum.

That’s all I got folks, tell us about anything we missed and I’ll slip it in! Don’t forget I’m getting close to 50, and that might mean it takes a little longer, but you’re all invited to laugh at me at the Three Crowns in Devizes on March 4th; oh yeah, we’ve got some amazing live music too, naturally.


Song of the Week: Deadlight Dance

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of the Week time…. I’m just amazed with myself that I’ve actually committed to this new regular feature for a…

Devil’s Doorbell Live EP from the Pump

It’s any wonder if this bonkers jazz skiffle duo found a double-entendre in the name of Trowbridge’s finest live music venue, The Pump, when they…

Petrichor; New Album by The Lost Trades

If asked to summarise the themes of songs by The Lost Trades with a song, I believe I’d pick the classic Americana folk song “Keep…

Petrichor; New Album by The Lost Trades

If asked to summarise the themes of songs by The Lost Trades with a song, I believe I’d pick the classic Americana folk song “Keep on the Sunny Side.” Popularised by The Carter Family in the mid-twenties, it’s the humble yet effective mandate to retain optimism whilst everything thrown at you has the potential to drive you to submit to misery.….

The Lost Trades describe their forthcoming album Petrichor “with a slightly darker sound and themes including mourning, escape and starting afresh,” which while true, it never drowns itself in melancholy, least perhaps not till the finale, rather is uplifting on the soul, refreshing; the therapeutic equivalent of a nice warm bath, perhaps in candlelight.

It’s been just short of two years since the debut album The Bird, The Book, and The Barrel, and our beloved vocal harmony trio have pre-released four singles from this album, each one leaving us hanging out to dry with anticipation for this second album. 10th March is the date to unpeg yourself from the washing line, pre-orders are already being taken, and I’ll let you into a secret, which might be obvious to fans; you will not be disappointed.

Last time I spoke with Phil Cooper about the upcoming album, at Bradford Roots Music Festival, we spoke of the delicate balance of the follow-up, on teasing with a precise number of pre-singles but not overdoing it, and other common pitfalls such as exhausting your creative output on the debut with fan pressure to supplement it. Phil was ever-positive, explaining alongside fresh ideas they also had several indistinct drafts left from the first album, they’d returned to and revised. Unlike those lesser, “cashing-in” Pink Floyd albums of rejected offcuts off the more memorable albums, if the songs here were only fragments of ideas at the time of recording the debut, they’ve been overhauled with perfection, and Petrichor is undoubtedly the better album of the two. This equates to one main point I’d like to make; The Lost Trades are the fine wine, perpetually improving with age.

And anyway, four singles are reasonable, as this album weighs in at a value-for-money twelve tunes strong, and strong they most certainly are. There’s not even the one dodgy one, like The Girl is Mine on Jacko’s Thriller!

In reviewing these teaser singles I’ve been adamant throughout, the unification of the harmonies is now so intricate, so refined, even to have known the trio as individual performers in their own right prior to forming the Lost Trades, they merge now as one unit. Many have one take the lead, but the concord is paramount, the accompany of the other two enhances, whichever way around, like silk on flesh.

Though this is key to why this betters the previous album, the quality of production and reasoned flow of the tracks sprinkles it with magic. This optimistic “Keep on the Sunny Side,” comparison is no more prevalent than in the sixth tune, Under The Hornbeam, in which Tammy leads on this delightfully upbeat ditty, while it reminded me of her earlier days of singing The Jungle Book’s I’m the King of the Swingers, it’s obviously far from being puerile, but in comparison with the other songs, it remains the perkiest!

Undecided on the opening track to the debut, in which they acapella an introductory prose of the concept of the Trades, and it comes across rather quirky, there’s no messing around with Petrichor, diving straight in with a taste of the sublime you can expect throughout the album. Old Man of The Sea, the single from last November bears all the hallmarks of the direction the Trades are heading. Concentrated in the raconteur style of Jamie Hawkins, who takes lead on this marine-themed expressive shanty-type ballad to Hemingway’s most unlucky character, Santiago. You might think of “Wait for my Boat to Come in,” from the debut, but the forlorn and pensive impression is even stronger here.

If this leaves you tingling with anticipation of what’s to come, September’s single Keep My Feet Dry follows, and this is just mega-bliss! Reminding me at the time of Roger McGuinn’s “Ballad of Easy Rider,” with its river metaphor for a missing you theme, it drifts, a thing of beauty, uplifting, with a chorus immediately sing-a-long; every element fits together perfectly on this one.

Time for Phil to take lead, and this joyful sound, Atlas is an exclusive, with thoughtful prose, a personal reflection of carrying the heavens on one’s shoulders, rather than the Titans’ revolt against the gods! The last single pre-released, Long Since Gone comes next, and is a grower which sneaks up on you, and, with a humble narrative of bereavement and anguish, it loiters while you’re dangling off a Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Returning to the joyful, the springtime first single Daffodils lifts the soul, and with this gorgeous retrospective banjo riff and vocal harmonies of the Carter Family, on its release I gave its technical perfection comparison to the timelessness of Will the Circle be Unbroken together with the more enriching mood of Randy Newman’s You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

Six tunes in and you are as immersed as the rocks a waterfall trickle over. I’ll give no more massive spoilers, for the following songs are new, and all wonderful. Fireflies is drifty, Little Blackbird is enchantingly upbeat, Best Foot Forward is a return journey of thoughtful prose. The title track follows, the aroma of rain after a sunny spell is the textbook interpretation of The Lost Trades in general, as well as this emotive beauty, so is such an apt album title, the song simply enlightens the gist.

Two more songs complete the healthy package, This Dark Forest is at it says on the tin, an emotive autumn ride, perhaps embracing their own description of being “a slightly darker sound.” Valhalla varnishes the album off with distant drumbeat, this haunting acapella holds an ancestral disposition, a haunting finale to the kind of album which will leave you with nought else to listen to next, favouring you might as well just play it again!

The Lost Trades are going from strength to strength, this authorises the detail. You. Are. In. For. A. Treat; but I gather you could’ve guessed this much by yourself; I’m just confirming it!

The album will be supported by a 2 month tour taking in much of the UK.


Song of the Week: Atari Pilot

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of Week time….and here’s your host…. yeah, sorry, it’s just me, couldn’t afford Stephen Mulhern. Haven’t heard from them…

Trouble at the Vic, Ant Trouble….

Something of a family reunion at Swindon’s Vic last night, then, if as Adam Ant chanted, we are the family, the dandy highwayman so…

Song of the Week: Ajay Srivastav

New one on me, Bracknell-based Graham Steel Music Company being my gateway to this astounding London rootsy acoustic soloist, and I’m impressed. With the…

Brave New Broken Hearts Club at St Johns, Devizes

by Helen Edwards

Picking our way around the back of St John’s church in the dark, unsure where the gig was being held, I was reminded about how I’d walked down that long aisle years earlier. About my children’s christening there and the more recent funeral of my father-in-law. So, as we entered the grand church’s side door, despite my quip about having ‘the blood of Christ’ as my BYO drink, I was feeling deeply reflective. I was open to what was to come.

After making ourselves comfortable in the pew, pouring our drinks and looking around at the congregation, faces lit by trails of fairy lights, the music began.

First, came the singer/songwriter, Pearl Fish. Now that I write that name I wonder if this is her given name or a performance muse [Editor’s note; yes, she told me it was her real name!] Either way it is very apt. Pearl exudes a coy, bouncy, and ever-so-slightly ethereal energy.  She shines but in a subtle and gentle way. When introducing her songs, she seems to have an intriguing mix of shyness and self-assuredness. And when she sang these qualities, showing vulnerability with an undercurrent of solid confidence filled the church. Her words, many of which escape me now, reflected this feeling and as an initial doubter (to explain; I gravitate towards a more rock-ier vibe) I was converted. Pearl’s voice is floaty and soft and helped take you away to reveries within yourself. I especially liked one song which changed tempo and sang like a cross between a folksy ancient tale with a sea-shanty beat.  I will be downloading Pearl’s album and feel delighted that my open mind allowed my heart to consume Pearl’s creative output.  I do think the church ambience helped with that.

A little more unholy wine later and Neil of Brave New Broken Hearts Club (I so want to write ‘Band’ at the end of that!) took the space of Pearl and the vicar’s usual spot.  The church was growing colder in the February night but Neil’s warmth, his fun and gentle manner and his evident kindness filled the atmosphere.  His conversational chat between songs bought smiles to all of us watching and gave an insight into this seemingly self-deprecating but obviously deep thinking and amusing guy. I bet he’s a great crack to sit and have a drink with.  Anyway, on to the music….

Neil is an accomplished songwriter.  He tells a story with each of his tunes and touches a chord in his audience with themes that we can all relate to.  I spoke to him afterwards to say it was lovely to hear the personal journey he is on, that he showed through his songs. As with Pearl and one of Neil’s favourite thinkers, Brene Brown, he has exposed his vulnerability and in doing so has produced some magnificent music.  His tunes are catchy, melodic, and chilled and his voice is awesome; clear and engaging with (my favourite bit) a heart-warming London accent.

An unexpected night and one of unearthed pearls (sorry bad pun) and catchy thoughtful songs.  Who knew the power of the-gig-in-the-church.  I will be part of their secret promoting crew when they are next in town by persuading my friends to join me.


Swan Dies in Road Accident at The Crammer

A swan from the Crammer hit on the road between Morrison’s roundabout and the traffic lights this morning, has died…. In territorial disputes, the wildfowl…

Song of the Week: Sienna Wileman

Okay, I admit it, our Song of the Day feature was too optimistic, and failing every day to post a tune meant it fell by…

On The Wayside with Viduals

Akin to Ghostbuster’s nemesis Slimer when he appears over the hotdog stand, I was squatting a spacious windowsill at Wiltshire Music Centre with an Evie’s…

Devizes Town Council Reject Proposal for a Safety Sign on The Crammer

In the same week Corsham Town Councillor Ruth Hopkinson unveiled a sign, warning drivers to slow down for their peacocks, designed by a schoolgirl via a competition, a swan on Devizes Crammer flew into a passing car and died. Residents called upon Devizes Town Council for signage warning of the dangers, but the idea was doggedly rejected by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday….

Friends of The Crammer campaign group thanked members of the public for attending the meeting. The application was discussed at great length, often meandering. Campaigner Sally Noseda said “it got off to a good start with one Councillor [Cllr Bridewell] saying she thought it was a good idea and proposing it. Then, there was a barrage of objections from several councillors – too much signage there already, warning signs never work, too distracting, swans die all over the town, its people’s fault for feeding them, too expensive, etc., etc.”

Councillor Iain Wallis said that whilst he believed the whole council supported making the area safer, he did not think that signs were the way to do this. Making one wonder what hairbrained invention would be deemed suitable, perhaps training swans to push the traffic-light button with their beaks?!

He felt that signs would not work as drivers should already be alert in this area; well, duh, alertness is best while driving anywhere! They also questioned the need (the need for basic road safety, duh again?!) and warned about overloading the area with signage, when it’s no more overloaded with pointless signage than any other area of the town centre. So, he poo-pooed the idea, which is what he said he would do on his bias Facebook group, therefore meeting about it was a complete waste of oxygen, as his proposal was seconded by Councillor Hoult, supported by Councillor Nash, who raised the financial pressure on a council who recently forked out far more for some oversized flower pots in the Market Place!

A member of Friends of Crammer group contacted Barefoot Signs for a quote, which pushed the boat out to a staggering £30 plus VAT! But Sally explained, “the council were mostly thinking about formal Ministry of Transport wildfowl signs and the costs attached to those. I couldn’t really put in an official application for “unofficial” signs – they would need to be done afterwards. So, the discussion was based on official signs. Having said that, all the nonsense about costs, history, swan behaviour, swans dying in other areas of the town, too many signs… They threw everything at it, aided and abetted by the mentioned member of the public.”

Cllr Giraud-Saunders felt that feeding the swans by the road may be making the issue worse so suggested that maybe feeding could take place in another area, which is, with all due respect, total piffle; with the railings in place, the larger birds only have one exit-entrance from the water to the land, and that is at the roadside so to get to another area would still mean travelling along the roadside! Now, I’m no expert, unlike others I’m not pretending to be, but you only must go and look at it to work that out!

Cllr Greenwood, who was Charing, (not charming!) felt this was something that could be looked at under Cllr Wallis’ proposal. Well quite; ideas have been put before via Crammer Watch that, ideally, the Crammer needs to be swizzled around, so the wildfowl’s access to the water is on the grass rather than direct onto the road, but this would obviously need a huge investment, and being the council are doing everything in their power to reject a simple signpost might suggest anyone with the slightest faith this will happen is not living in Devizes, but cloud cuckoo-land!

The minutes then go onto say, “the member of the public who brought the item forward said they understood the council’s position, but was concerned that the crammer working party may not deal with the issue in a timely fashion.” Now, at this stage we need to point out, if you’ve not already guessed what’s coming, this crammer working party set up Devizes Town Council consists of…. wait for it…. councillors Iain Wallis and Chris Greenwood!!

Cilla Black level of surprise, surprise; the very one’s campaigning against every proposal put by any member of the public concerned about recent happenings at The Crammer, the two who blatantly lied about the suspected bird flu outbreak and DEFRA’s imaginary collection of the dead swans on their Facebook groups. Facebook groups which have seen anyone disagreeing with Mr Wallis outright banned from the group, even the Crammer Watch page set up to support the Crammer! The councillor who encouraged the public take matters into their own hands and reprimand anyone feeding the swans, knowing full well without a natural food source they would’ve died anyway, bird flu or not! You can’t make bureaucratic gobbledygook like this up!

And, sigh, the minutes conclude: Following the public statements Cllr Wallis amended his proposal to add a timeline to the working parties brief with a first report due in six weeks’ time at the next Recreation & Properties meeting. This was passed with two abstentions. In other words, although the proposal for the most proactive doable solution was squashed, they’d all sit around and talk about it at later date, which is what I thought they were doing there and then?!

It feels like “Crammer” is a swearword at Devizes Town Council, any mere mention of it, for some unexplained reason breathes fire from the mouths of certain councillors, and their apathy towards any issue arising from the Crammer is questionable. How councillors can outright lie leaves me beyond hope for a simple solution, and I believe they should be held accountable for their dishonesty. As Sally expressed to the Friends of the Crammer group, “I was looking at a circle of rather disinterested faces. I did accept Iain Wallis’s offer to bring it into the WP remit – but stressed that this was an urgent matter and I was unhappy at how long they’d taken to get this far with the Working Party.”

Working party, indeed, shirking party I think you’ll find! One of the best responses from The Friends of the Crammer Facebook group stated, “I think DTC need to show some interest and love for the Crammer. They give the impression that they don’t care about this special, historic, and beautiful spot of nature right in the centre of the town. Everything that has been asked for (which is very little and low cost as far as I can see) they appear to have resisted or turned down or gone very slow. This group has gathered 210 members in a very short space of time in a small town and I’m sure there are a lot of others who are equally concerned. DTC are the servants of the town. Surely these little things being asked for aren’t a big deal and would be of some help in protecting the wildlife on the Crammer. It is worth a try and would certainly go some way to alleviate this problem. Just put up a few small signs what harm would it do?”

But perhaps the best comment came from neither the group nor council, but from the unrestricted local page, Devizes Issues (but better) in which someone added something along the lines of, “it’s just swans on a pond fffs!” adding there were more important issues, and I agree, after feeling driven to type a thousand words on it, for if they can pass off public ideas of such a simple notion as a signpost, what poppycock will they make of the bigger issues?!


Old Wharf Café to Become Meeting Room

The Kennet & Avon Trust today revealed plans to convert the old café on Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, into a meeting facility; how exciting! It…

Delicate, Like A Psychedelicat

What is a psychedelicat, a tin of magic mushroom flavoured Felix?! His picture on the tin certainly displays some suspiciously dilated pupils, but this exaggeration…

The Bradford Roots Music Festival Returns

I know, it’s hardly festival weather, but this one is all inside! Inside the glorious Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon that is, on Saturday 21st…

My Dad’s Wackier Than Your Dad – a night of nostalgia and karaoke at The Castle Inn, Old Town

The team behind My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival are hosting a night of karaoke at The Castle Inn, Old Town on Saturday 4th March as part of their efforts to raise funds for Prospect Hospice.

My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival, organised in association with South Swindon Parish Council, is held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar who died in early June 2021 at Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer.  

During his tenure at The Victoria, Dave’s Wacky Wednesday fast became one of the most popular nights of the week amongst Swindon revellers, with Dave regularly coming up with themes such as ‘Christmas in July’ and ‘Barnyard Fancy Dress’, much to chagrin of his staff who had to tidy up the next day.

Festival co-organiser and ex-employee of Dave and his wife Anna, Gemma Denley-Doswell said “Wacky Wednesdays came up in a lot of people’s fondest memories of Dave when he passed away and so we knew we had to recreate it at some point for the people who used to attend back then. We’re all sadly much older now and not quite brave enough to attempt it midweek anymore so picked a Saturday and luckily Audrey and the team at The Castle volunteered to host us!”*

My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’s Raffle is also being launched at the event, after last year’s raffle of a guitar clock made and donated by Holmes Music raised nearly £1000 for Prospect Hospice.

This year there are several prizes to be bagged including another guitar clock from Holmes Music plus a haul of other fantastic gifts kindly donated by local businesses.  

One lucky winner will net a year’s free membership to Anytime Fitness in Hooper’s Place, Old Town, with the gym generously providing another two three-month memberships to add to the prize list.

Also up for grabs is a Photoshoot Experience Day from Marlborough based Imagine Photography and a spa voucher from the newly-refurbished Sorella Spa located in the Swindon Marriott Hotel.

Other prizes are yet to be announced, with the final draw being held in July after the festival. Tickets are £1 each and will also be available at Holmes Music, The Tuppenny and The Castle after the 4th March.

My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival 2023 is being held on Saturday 22nd July in The Town Gardens, Old Town. Already announced on the line up is Imperial Leisure, True Strays and The Real Cheesemakers. Follow the festival’s social media pages for regular updates.

Get your My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival 2023 tickets now by visiting the website mydadsbiggerthanyourdad.co.uk  

Prospect Hospice, based in Wroughton, provides palliative and end of life care for people across the region and has to raise the majority of its costs through fundraising. My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival has raised over £24,000 for Prospect Hospice in its first two years.

*Gemma added “For those who can still handle staying up late on a school night, The Victoria is still proudly flying the flag for Wacky Wednesday to this day!”

Song of the Week: Atari Pilot

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of Week time….and here’s your host…. yeah, sorry, it’s just me, couldn’t afford Stephen Mulhern.

Haven’t heard from them for a while, but they’re far from collecting dust in a loft like a retro game console. Swindon-based Atari Pilot return this week with a new single, Train of Life.

If choo-choos are a common metaphor in blues and reggae, moreso to describe the chugging beat, we’re on another platform from Sister Rosetta Tharpe, or Keith and Tex. Sonic indie rockers Atari Pilot have their joysticks calibrated to this philosophical theme, life’s long train comin’, and it sure is a grower. Especially, I’d fathom, if you’re new to this band’s unique style, I ask you take at least a few listens before passing judgement.

But with lyrics like “rolling on til the track runs out, is it the journey or the destination you dream about?” there’s thoughtful prose admist those sonic riffs, and it affirms Atari Pilot firmly on the right track.

It’s up on Bandcamp as a name your price. Linktree HERE, go give them a like on the book of Face too, while you’re standing on the platform waiting for the strikes to end!

bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=539157991 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 15th – 21st February 2023

Happy Valentine’s Day, hopelessly romantic yet gullible consumers. If you’ve any money left after your overpriced chocolates and cut-off plants purchases, here is what’s happening this coming week in Wiltshire.….

Snowdrops, though, to do my usual weather comment, I’ve seen snowdrops, and moths; is this spring already, or am I asking too much? But we can confirm, moth-action, sir, moth-action, bring on the warmer weather.

Also, as usual, details and links to everything listed here can be found on our event calendar, which scrolls through the future like a plutonium-fuelled DeLorean, so do go with it as if your name was Marty, for if you wait for this weekly update tickets for ticketed events might well have sold out.

Wednesday 15th sees the regular acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Recommended for children aged 5+ and their families, Squashbox Theatre presents a cosmic Journey to the Stars at The Neeld, Chippenham, while ex-special forces soldier and star of TV’s SAS: Who Dares Wins, Jason Fox’s talk, Life At The Limit is at the Wyvern, Swindon. This show also plays Bath Forum on Thursday.

Scottish band acclaimed for their dynamic, sonically adventurous post rock, Mogwai play Bath Forum, with comedy from Hal Cruttenden at Komedia; It’s Best You Hear It From Me.

Some Irish folk at Brown Street, Salisbury with Sharon Shannon.

Thursday 16th is opening night for Seend Fawlty Players’ production of the Frog Prince at Seend Community Hall. Their 43rd village pantomime runs till Saturday.

Fantasy Radio will be at The Three Crowns, Devizes. Comedy night at the Civic, Trowbridge.

Splat The Rat play The Tuppenny, Swindon, and Prue Leith’s Nothing In Moderation comes to the Wyvern; who knows you might be sitting next to baby-face Danny Kruger, nudging you and telling you it’s his mummy up there!

Ah, anyway, (I’m sorry, couldn’t resist it!) Over at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon we have The Bradfordian’s presentation of Fantastic Mr Fox. And staying on foxes, the aforementioned Jason Fox is at Bath Forum, Lissie at Komedia.

Friday 17th Trash Panda play The Bear, Marlborough, Bob Bowles at The Green Dragon.

Duran at Swindon Arts Centre, Dreamboys, ladies, Dreamboys I say, at the Wyvern!

It’s a big happy birthday to Ruzz Guitar, who plays at The Cheese & Grain, Frome with his full Blues Revue, Pete Gage, and The Real John Lewis as support; that will be something else; got to be editor’s pick of the week! All roads lead to Frome, though, as The Lost Trades play The Treehouse as well.

Alex Carson’s The Idiot Tour at Chapel Arts, The Musical Box at Bath Forum. Fleetwood Bac @ Salisbury Arts Centre.

Saturday 18th and it’s DOCA’s Festival of Winter Ales at The Corn Exchange Devizes; you’ll be like Charlie Bucket to find a golden ticket to this now, but good luck anyway! Staying in Devizes, The Eric Bell Band, due to play Long Street Blues Club has been postponed, and the amazing talent we witnessed as guest at the Southgate’s Jon Amor monthly residency last Sunday, Thomas Atlas brings his band from Birmingham, and that will be a brilliant swap. Talking Southgate, Black Nasty plays there.

Improvised comedy for one night only at the Wharf Theatre with Instant Wit, a bunch of very Unusual Suspects, forever on the run from the Comedy Police!

Find Ed Cox at Woodbrough Social Club.

Robbie Williams Live at Knebworth 20th Anniversary Tribute tour is screened at Melksham Assembly Hall. Sarah Keyworth’s Lost Boy at Pound Arts, Corsham. Homer play Westbury Cons Club. Tequila Mockingbird at Stallards in Trowbridge. Junkyard Dogs play The Three Horseshoes in Chapmanslade.

Stranglers tribute, Straighten Out at The Vic, Swindon, Click at The Swiss Chalet, and Six O’clock Circus at the New Century Club. Babatunde Aleshe’s Babahood at Swindon Arts Centre, Buddy Holly tribute show That’ll Be The Day at the Wyvern.

The Korgis Last ever complete performance Kartoon World at Chapel Arts, Bath, with Fairport Convention at Bath Forum, Clare Hammond at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

A Salisbury Live 2023 fundraiser, The Beggars Bash at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Judge Jules on the wheels of steel at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Eagles tribute The Alter Eagles are at The Tree House.

Sunday 19th sees Mr Griff at The Southgate, Devizes.

The Amazing Bubble Man at Swindon Arts Centre, Tap Factory at the Wyvern. Babatunde Aléshé’s Babahood tour moves over to Komedia, Bath.

Monday 20th Lord of the Rings in Concert at Bath Forum.

Tuesday 21st I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue at Bath Forum.

And that’s a wrap, folks, unless I missed anything, do let me know. Have a good week, don’t worry, be happy!


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Trouble at the Vic, Ant Trouble….

Something of a family reunion at Swindon’s Vic last night, then, if as Adam Ant chanted, we are the family, the dandy highwayman so sick of easy fashion was rekindled by the utter brilliance of Ant Trouble, and left me hanging on a debate of the true worth of the tribute act….

Putting a two-part question to both your good self and my own deliberations this morning, what do you want from a tribute act? To be entertained, sure, but this is no different from an originals or covers band.

Nostalgia obviously plays the highest percentage, the want for an act to replicate a bygone band you idolised, or still do. Which raises the second part of the question, is sounding like more important than looking like the act they’re attributing?

Likely it’s a combination of these, a delicate balance. Though whilst I’ve caught some amazing tribute acts, my top three being a Blondie one, a Slade one and a Bob Marley & The Wailers, I could nitpick an issue with them all. Welsh Adam and the Ants tribute Ant Trouble sold-out Swindon’s Vic last night; something I was bursting with anticipation to witness firsthand. I return a million miles or so away from any shred of disappointment; it was highly entertaining, finding it impossible to nitpick any similar issue. By order of the equation surely puts Ant Trouble top of my list.

For nostalgic value, too, it ticked all boxes. But to understand why takes a backstory. For Bob Marley, I’ve been a lifelong fan, but not until heady art college days did I idolise. Slade was a smidgen before my time. But Adam and the Ants was bang on my childhood, a band though I’d loved to have seen perform live, was too young for gigs, and by the age I would’ve been the time and notion was lost.

To scare his younger sibling, my brother would put on undoubtedly the most bizarre of my Dad’s 7″ records. It was called “Burundi Black,” a 1971 single, whereby French composer Michel Bernholc overdubbed crashing piano to a recording of chants and drumming by the Ingoma people of Burundi. It still scares the willies out me today, truth be told!!

Whatever the quarrel between Malcom McLaren and Stuart Goddard (Adam Ant,) McLaren stole many original band members of Adam and the Ants to form Bow Wow Wow, but left Stuart a compilation tape with Burundi Black on. Both bands were inspired to create this Burundi beat, so that when my brother came home with Kings of the Wild Frontier, though I’d reached the grand old age of eight and wasn’t scared of anything now, I was left intrigued if slightly concerned by the sound of this previous album, as it was 1981 and I was hooked on the pop sound of Stand & Deliver.

It taught me pop stars weren’t just dropped into chart positions from outer space, they had a history, and grew to love Kings of the Wild Frontier. If the punk movement despised Adam Ant for selling out, I was blissfully as unware as the connection to Burundi Black; it was none of my business. I just loved this band, without reasoning why, for away from the angered social commentary, the disparaged realism of the punk movement I was too young to comprehend, Adam and the Ants exploited the fantastical, the carefree, enthusing any influences they cared to, from military jackets to new romantic frilly shirts, of Bauhaus, pirates, native Americans to Dick Turpin, to create this miss-mash, playful hero of nobility, and I idolised him.

Though through time that notion was lost in the plethora of ever-changing genres of pop, his attraction in uniqueness copied if never replicated, only to be bought crashing back to me like a wallop in the face, in a glorious show of retrospective precision, that’s key to why it topped my list; Ant Trouble may be the best tribute I’ve bore witness to so far, but my nostalgia not wholly the reasoning.

As for the Blondie tribute, it was perfection, though this Edinburgh lass maintained a corny Californian accent even when chatting backstage! Ant Trouble humorously allowed themselves to break the illusion, on stage, joking with extenuating accents, “we’re not really Adam and the Ants, just some Welsh nutters!” This was the honesty which deflected the pretence with an otherwise glam and showy band, it announced this was replicated, a homage rather attempting to maintain the false illusion it was the real McCoy.

My final niggly with other tributes is the fault of Father Time. Many are impersonating from their own youth, usually making them only slightly younger than the act they’re attributing. This can make the illusion awkward, and lack the zest of youth. Whereas Ant Trouble are of the same age Adam and the Ants were at their peak, bursting with the same energy, and their almighty display of enthusiasm and vigour was the icing on the cake.

They really gave it a 110%, through their skill of replicating and general performance, to the final part of my deliberations, both looking and sounding akin. Their fulfilled repertoire covering the earlier punk era to the pop peak and beyond to Adam’s solo career, and enthusing the effect with costumes, props, quality notation to the kinesiology, plus audience participation and banter. These skilful musicians could’ve produced an electrifying show if they were a Perry Como tribute!

What remained punk of Adam and the Ants was the three-minute hero, thus allowing Ant Trouble to cram a staggering thirty-two plus songs into this unique set. From Car Trouble and others from the debut album Dirk Wears White Sox, through to practically covering the entire Kings of the Wild Frontier album, and onto the pop hits Prince Charming, Stand and Deliver, et al, to later solo singles like Apollo 9, Ant Trouble delivered them all along with Ant Rap, but not by standing, oh no, they used the stage as if acrobats! The bassist of particular enthusiasm, jumping or rolling on the floor, throwing his guitar in the air, and climbing atop the speaker. Frontman Mitchell Tennant (who’s surname coincidently contains the word ant!) was equal to this showmanship, and the whole band’s interaction was exceptional, breathing life back into the discography of the pop hero of a lost era.

And that is precisely what I believe everyone wants from a tribute act. You come away from this show exhilarated, within a euphoric bubble of retrospection, but I could flatter all day, like Morpheus said to Neo of the Matrix: Unfortunately, no one can be told how good Ant Trouble are, you have to see it for yourself!


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Painting With Sound; Will Lawton & The Alchemists New EP

Perhaps you’ve noticed of recent, my overuse of the word “sublime?” I could apologise, and worry abusing a word lessens its clout, despite happening to like it, but I ask you humour me; I’m going to use it again today, in a thoroughly slamming-my-fist-on-the-desk-like-I-really-mean-it type way! Malmesbury’s purveyors of cool, Will Lawton & The Alchemists have an EP due for release on 3rd March, and yes, I’ll confirm now without thesaurus, it’s erm, sublime!

They’ve contributed to both our Julia’s House compilations and though I shouldn’t pick favourites…. ahem, and to note our roving reporter Andy has had the pleasure of fondly reviewing these guys live. I confess it remains on my to-do-list, but via Alchemy, this new three-track EP, I’ve knocked it up in priority to top of the list, above the heading.

Our given press release enlightens the EP’s title Alchemy “is a reference to the alchemical process of creativity with this EP being a fusing of Will’s masterful song-craft and the band’s dextrous flair for instrumental flourishes and lush, subtly evolving arrangements,” and I couldn’t put it better myself. Not for weird explosions in fogs of coloured smoke, but for the tentative and inventive melodious architecture, this is a Sagrada Família of sound.

 It opens with haunting piano and Will’s sonorously equable vocals. An eight-minute masterwork called Daughter, will invoke imaginings of the most memorable parental occasions, the unconditional love, as subtle drumbeats roll over this drifting euphoric sonic soundscape, akin to Pink Floyd’s finest hour.

Alchemic as in experimental, naturally, as the texture of drum timings fragment from piano for the second tune, then conjoin to a fix. The single pre-release out now, Black Bricks, rolls into something exceptional, an unsolidified musical edifice, overlapping layers and smooth vocals on social commentary of the ordinary, bad day. The discomforting, yet almost satirised theme perhaps makes this the standout tune, this is rich and creative genius.

Cast Iron is the final tune, cryptic and abstract, it evokes the quest to fulfil dreams and ambitions and the sense of powerlessness that emerges from this questing. The only downside is it ends, for this is incredibly morish, and leaves you dripping to dry, but quality above quantity is key, and again, this is as smooth as a well-oiled boob! We’re treated to Eastern promise through subtle tabla in the introduction to the finale, amidst these gorgeous established layers of electric guitar, rolling drumbeats, both male and female uplifting vocals, and simple beguiling keys. But what becomes in this song, as best example for the EP, is of no standalone individual element or instrument, rather the composition, for this is the musical equivalent to Da Vinci.

Seriously, Will’s profession as a music therapist means he has a high degree of self-awareness when it comes to the cathartic, healing power of creativity. Ergo, if art students are taught the eight pillars of composition are balance, contrast, focus, motion, pattern, proportion, unity and rhythm, the only images this EP will blissfully summon in your mind’s eye would be BA standard and you’d be exhibiting in the Louvre in no time! This is how to do it; this is painting with sound.

Will Lawton & The Alchemists have steadily built a solid live following with shows across the South West of England, and garnered support from Scala Radio, BBC Radio Wiltshire, BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Somerset, and BBC Introducing for the West. They recently supported Brit-pop legends Space to great acclaim.

The EP is produced by Patrick Phillips at Play Pen Studios, Bristol, mastered by Pete Maher at Top Floor Productions, and released via Supermarine Music. It will be supported with a tour, dates below.

Alchemy EP Tour Feb/March 2023

16th Feb: The Old Stables, Cricklade

25th Feb: The Pump, Trowbridge

27 Feb: The Prince Albert, Stroud

2nd March: The Railway Inn, Winchester

4th March:The Hop Inn, Swindon


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Avon Vale Hunt Suspended from the British Hounds Sports Association

If Bob Marley used a Jamaican proverb for a line in I Shot the Sheriff , “Every day the bucket a-go a well, One day the bottom a-go drop out,”  it really has for the notorious Avon Vale Hunt, who’ve been suspended from the British Hounds Sports Association, following some sickening video footage…...

I guess congratulations goes to Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs, for want of a better word. The breaking news certainly produced an awkward chuckle from me. Their hard work has paid off with this indisputable evidence of the hunt, digging out two foxes and throwing one to the hounds, while the second attempts an escape. The most distressing and horrifying part of the film is to hear them shrieking with delight when realising there was a second fox.

A criminal investigation had begun, we hope the sentence fits the crime. I’ve tried to be as subtle as possible on this issue, always willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Previous filming from the sabs has often been obscured and difficult to define precisely what’s happening, but this is undeniable, trail hunting is an outright lie.

This definitive proof shifts the way I’ll handle my wording on such reports, for it’s conclusive, that hunters are nothing but bloodthirsty criminal scum, and I, for one, believe the time has come to ban these so-called trail hunts once and for all.

Wiltshire Hunt Sabs told The Hunt Saboteurs Association, “We routinely sab this particularly vile and vicious hunt, so we aren’t surprised to see them shrieking in delight as the whip chucks the first fox to the hounds as a second fox tries to flee. It’s almost a year to the day since they seriously assaulted a hunt sab after sabs stopped a similar dig out of a fox from an active badger sett near Erlestoke.

We hope Wiltshire Police do their jobs properly this time. For too long this hunt has gotten away with murder, largely because of the protection of Wiltshire Police who have had serving officers riding with this hunt. The Avon Vale are now truly exposed for the bloodthirsty criminals they are.”

So, we find ourselves at the conjunction where I will not refrain to mince my words any longer; anyone condoning the actions of the Avon Vale Hunt, from allowing meets on their establishment to political figures supporting the hunt or claiming they’re doing nothing illegal, will be called out and treated as an accessory to a crime.

A Wiltshire police spokesperson said, “We have received a report of alleged wildlife offences and will be reviewing the evidence that has been presented.” Begging the question how it can “alleged” if the offence is clearly caught on camera?

For a fuller story and to watch the film, please refer HERE, but warning, the video can be distressing. And please, if you can, donate to the Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs so they can continue their hard and often dangerous work.

Song of the Week: Ajay Srivastav

New one on me, Bracknell-based Graham Steel Music Company being my gateway to this astounding London rootsy acoustic soloist, and I’m impressed. With the subtle nod to Indian influences while retaining a delta blues fashion, this single is gorgeous and progressive.

Ajay explains this new new single, released tomorrow (9th Feb), is about “letting go of all that baggage… physical, emotional, and spiritual. Lighten your load and keep walking your road,” ergo the title “Futher up the Road;” enjoy! I’ll certainly be looking for more from Ajay Srivastav….

Here’s a link to his Bandcamp page, where you’ll find some work with Jah Wobble, really bringing out this wonderful Hindustani flavour.

The Jon Amor Trio’s Residency at The Southgate Shows No Signs of Letting Up for 2023

Once fed a feeble excuse for not booking a local act on the circuit because they gigged in town so often it was becoming timeworn and monotonous; I wasn’t swallowing the smallest chunk, it smelt sour. This is Devizes and we cherish the dependable, the analogous; it’s not boring, because we know what we like, and we like what we get. Probable the best example I could give happened again this Sunday, and is something which has fast become as traditionally Sunday here as the aroma of roast potatoes.   

Homegrown blues legend Jon Amor, with the outstanding bassist Jerry Soffe and celestially-sited drummer Tom Gilkes, who make up the other two-thirds of the trio, again took up the monthly residency at Devizes Southgate Inn, and showed no signs of the consistency faulting this coming year.

Erm, not too much to add, only because we’ve covered this regular occurrence often. Andy has reviewed it, and Ian and myself have had our tuppence too, but it’s worthwhile to mention if only to act as a reminder. Yeah, those who know, know, and I’d go as far to suggest, when Jon labels the event as “Jon Amor & Friends,” it extends further than the trio and his guest. So, for others, you do realise you’re seriously missing out, don’t you? There’s something so tremendously communal about the experience you could probably wear your slippers to it.

I’d wager this is how Jon sells it to the regular guest, and I’ve yet to note one which doesn’t thoroughly relish in the causal, informal demeanour. This last weekend was Brummie guitarist Thomas Atlas, who found it highly amusing the dogs would unperturbedly wander through the musicians as they played. Yet Thomas is as cool as this, cool as a cucumber, making his contribution solid throughout accompanying, and boy, when his time came to lead on a few self-penned songs, it was sublime, as well as locking in anticipation for the occasion he returns to town with a full band at Long Street. Oh, yeah, you need to know; that is on Saturday 25th March.

Yes, through Juggernaut to audience-participating banter, four-to-the-floor improv, and the occasional but amusing timing blunder, it was as it always is, the superb display of delta and Chicago electric blues we love! Don’t take my word for it, I’ll pop a YouTube link to Richard White’s filming below, and leave you with the desired information, this is a regular feature at the trusty Southgate, who, not content with supplying our Saturday nights in Devizes with an assortment of free live music, adds this cherry to the cake every first Sunday of the month. You’ve officially been reminded; there is no better way to while away your Sunday in Devizes……


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Shakespeare’s Problem Play Comes to The Wharf Theatre

Following her recent successful production of As You Like It, at Devizes’ Wharf Theatre, Liz Sharman returns with another Shakespeare masterpiece, Measure for Measure.

Often cited as one of Shakey’s Problem Plays, characterised by complex and ambiguous tones, pugnaciously shifting between straightforward comic material and dark, psychological drama, Measure for Measure is a predecessor to tragicomedy.

Written between 1603-4 Measure for Measure is set in a Vienna which has seen vice run riot. Beset with brothels and loose morals the city has also lost its respected leader. Angelo, left temporarily in power, attempts to restore order by reinstating long-neglected laws against immorality. However, when a novice nun, Isabella, comes to plead for her brother’s life, he proves himself to be both hypocritical and corrupt when he attempts to strike an intolerable bargain.

Measure For Measure is a hidden Shakespearean gem that has enjoyed a popular revival in recent years thanks to its fresh relevance to the social movement against sexual abuse and harassment, #MeToo. Themes of justice and hypocrisy are woven in typically Shakespearean fashion with comedy and a fast-moving, constantly twisting plot.

Wharf Theatre

The play runs from March 27th to April 1st 2023. Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.

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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 8th – 14th February 2023

February, not hotting up much temperature-wise, nevertheless plenty of stuff going on across the county and beyond; here’s what we’ve found to satisfy your soul this week….

You know the score, no links here, find them on our event calendar – something you need to keep an eye on as it has been known to get updated from time to time! If we missed anything you told me about, I apologise, let me know and I can add it. If I missed anything you failed to tell me about, that’s your own lookout, but still, if you’re nice I might add it, but it will cost you a cupcake.

Let’s not mess about, Wednesday 8th sees the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, an over 60s event at The Neeld, Chippenham, Macie J Kulakowski at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Chris McCausland’s Speaky Blinder at Komedia, Bath, and a folk open mic at Brown Street, Salisbury.

On Thursday 9th we welcome back Devizes Film Club, who are setting up camp at The Wharf Theatre, tickets for the film, Minari have sold out, please note upcoming screenings, here.

Pound Arts in Corsham have a triple bill of folk, Flo Perlin, Daisy Chute and Fern Maddie.

The Tuppenny, Swindon, have one on my hitlist, Canute’s Plastic Army, with the wonderful Harmony Asia in support.

Phil Beer plays Chapel Arts, Bath, and Terence Blacker presents The Shock of the Old at Rondo Theatre.

Opening night for How The Other Half Loves at Salisbury Playhouse, running until 4th March.

Friday 10th sees the acoustic folk-indie project of now London-based but former Devizes resident Neil Phillimore, Brave New Broken Hearts Club come to St Johns in Devizes for a one-off gig with London folk poet-singer Pearl Fish. Previewed Here.

Upcoming bands battle it out for heat two of Take the Stage 2023 at The Neeld, Chippenham.

The Corsairs play The Bear in Marlborough.

Emily Breeze plays the Pump in Trowbridge for Sheer Music. You need to get in quick on any events at the Pump, they will sell out before you know what’s-what!

Guitar enthusiasts head for Swindon Arts Centre for a show celebrating 50 Years of Fender, while The Shudders play The Vic, with Celtic folkers Liddington Hill and Death is a Girl.

Aaron Azunda Akugbo plays Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Sara Pascoe appears at Bath Forum, while there’s a free indoor fest at Komedia, featuring Year of the Dog, Nookee, Drop in the Ocean, Ryan D’Auria and Bohosapiens, and at the Rondo Theatre there’s a play called Thirst, running over the weekend.

Jolyon Dixson & Steele play The Royal George in Salisbury, Break Cover are at Brown Street, and Jarlath Regan and Garrett Millerick’s Work in Progress at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Henge at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Start your Saturday 11th with some deliberation, as the Devizes Town Council Roadshow meets at The Market Place, 10am-1pm! In the evening, find Ben Borrill at The Three Crowns, and Junkyard Dogs at The Southgate.

Big Mama’s Banned play the Pilot, Melksham, Be Like Will play The Wiltshire Yeoman in Trowbridge, while The Worried Men are at the Pump.

Dave B & The Bop Won’t Stop presents The Ultimate Shakin’ Stevens Tribute at Chapel Arts, Bath, and there’s a West End Winter Show at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

If that’s not enough difficult decisions already, Don Letts is guest at The Cheese & Grain in Frome, as the Dub Pistols headline.

Find Six O’clock Circus at The Phoenix in Wotton Bassett, Thickcut play The Swiss Chalet in Swindon, and Bella Notte features Bel Canto, Belle Voci and Bella Musica in an evening of songs from shows and popular music in Everybody Sing at Swindon Arts Centre.

However, Editor’s Pick of Week will see us trek to Swindon, unless a serious hurricane-blizzard-tornado hits, where Adam Ant tribute Ant Trouble play the Vic. If you want a lift from Devizes, give me a shout, but you’ll have to help with my war-paint! I’ve been looking forward to this for ages, rekindling my youth with some ant music… we are the family!

Sunday 12th sees Bee-Gees tribute Jive Talkin at the Wyvern, while Tom Stade takes The High Road at Swindon Arts Centre.

Phil Cooper is live in Session at The Electric Bar, at Komedia in Bath, while comedian Lloyd Griffith’s One Tonne of Fun play the main hall. Eliza Carthy & The Restitution’s 30th Anniversary tour comes to the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

On Monday 13th Strictly Come Dancing champion Giovanni Pernice invites you to join him on a journey to his homeland for his production of Made in Italy at the Wyvern, Swindon.

Tuesday 14th sees The Classic Rock Show at the Wyvern, Swindon. Bath Phil & Jeneba Kanneh-Mason at Bath Forum and Future Cavemen at Komedia.

Into The Future…..

That’s all for this week folks, should be something to please everyone there, I think, but nothing will beat some kings of the wild frontier in my honest opinion!

Do scroll through the event calendar, some things you should take note of; Devizes Winter of Festival Ales is near-sold out, you best hurry. Seend Community Centre sees it 43rd village pantomime, The Princess & The Frog start on Thursday 16th and runs the Friday and Saturday.

Friday 17th in Frome, though, with birthday boy Ruzz Guitar at The Cheese & Grain, featuring The Real John Lewis and Peter Gage, and over the road, The Lost Trades play The Treehouse; wowzers! Talking of birthdays and Ruzz, don’t forget, Devizes people, not only is Ruzz playing his own birthday, he’s playing mine too! All welcome on March 4th to the Three Crowns where we’ll have a daytime open mic, the fantabulous Talk In Code will playing too and you can laugh at me reaching the half-century mark.

Spoiled for choice in Devizes on Saturday 18th, Thin Lizzy founder and guitarist Eric Bell arrives at Long Street Blues Club, head-to-head with Devizes Festival of Winter Ales, fantastic improv comedy with Instant Wit at The Wharf Theatre; decisions, decisions, but you need to make your mind up and get tickets, though if you fail, Black Nasty is at our trusty Southgate.


Billy Green Three’s Endless Scrolling

That Bill Green and his trio are back, WhatsApping me and spreading the news via social media about his new sardonic rap tune, condemning overuse…

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…

Swan Dies in Road Accident at The Crammer

A swan from the Crammer hit on the road between Morrison’s roundabout and the traffic lights this morning, has died….

In territorial disputes, the wildfowl will chase others, and they will flee onto the road. In other cases, desperate for food, some venture afield and cross the dangerous road.

Emotionally upset, founding member of the Crammer Watch team took it to McQueens for the incinerator.

It sadly highlights the necessity for signage on both roads warning drivers of birds crossing. We do hope the Devizes Town Council will raise this notion at the next meeting and look forward to reporting their response.

Facebook groups and pages with information and support for the Crammer:

Crammer Watch: Facebook page.

Friends of the Crammer: Facebook group.

If Old Photos of Devizes Were Posted on Social Media Today…..

Looking at old photos of Devizes can be a pleasurable way to spend a Sunday morning, such a beautiful and historic market town we live in, and things haven’t changed all that much…. architecturally….

But what if these photographs were posted on local Facebook groups today? What would the comments be? Our non-roving reporter, Karen McKarenson, speculates….

Is this where I stand 4 the 49 bus? Ive bin waiting 4 ages nuthin, bloody council – tia #devizesbusserviceisrubbish
Saw this van 2day in market plice – derty travellers parked in disabled bay. Where b the police? No bluddy where!
Look at that teenager just sittin on the bridge – where R his parents? Probably vapping as well- Sumbuddy needs to call the police #teenagersrunriotindevizes
Dunt no bout u but im fed up of peeple tryin to turn right at shanes castle – look at this twat #muppetdrivindevizes
Nun of these lot paid 4 parkin with the iphone app 2day – dole scroungers leftie woke whingers git a job
Wat idot put this up? Askin 4 a friend who neerly crashed his fiat into it #health&saftee in #devizes is a joke
Still cee murderous kids killin ducks by feedin them on the crammer wen they no its all infected wif bird flu cos that trusty councillor said it was – sumbuddy needs to string em up #deathtodevizeskidsfeedinducks
Smelly eco actavists rammed market plice 2day – nowhere 2 park the audi to go 2 greggs how wee supposed to #supportlocalbiznis wif these lot stickin there faces to the market X?
Why build up kids hopes of escapin only 2 knock em down – they’ll be waiting here for a while yet. #youthof2day numpties – get yr dad 2 giv u a lift!

Hope you like them, if you know of any more send them in or add them in the comments of social media shares – oh, the irony!

The Great Pothole Debacle; Are Wiltshire Councillors Teleported into County Hall?!

As a younger chap, for it once was so, I’d procrastinate with the washing-up, putting it off until the point I’d run out of cutlery or crockery. By this time the daunting task of tackling the mountain was too much to bear. Not forgoing, I’d be suspicious organic matter in the sink could’ve evolved into a dispassionate and sadistic varmint which would, acting in defence of its dwelling, ambush my digits, and marigolds would make unless armour.

In maturity I’ve learned engaging proactive to chores will prevent such issues from building to an uncontrollable catastrophe, but remain convinced, by driving on any road in the county, Wiltshire Council hasn’t yet reached such maturity. Their dithering, wilful ignorance of Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, has spawned an infestation of intractable and accrescent critters: potholes, and they breed like rabbits.

Agreed, like a birdwatcher finding a rare Capercaillie, I’ve seen council workers patching up the deadliest potholes of recent, here and there, but take The Kings Road, Easterton, for example, which for a while now I’ve renamed the Kamikazes Road, for my own personal white-knuckled amusement. Here, over the past week, they’ve shoved some hardcore in the odd pothole which has occupied the road for an insurmountable eon, ticked it off as a job well done, and returned to base for tea and custard creams. The equivalent of which in my washing-up metaphor would be to rinse a teaspoon I found rotting behind the fridge under the cold tap.

Of course, Cabinet Member for Transport, Dr Mark McClelland has waffled this axiomatic piffle on the council’s website, “The weather has provided the perfect conditions for potholes to form, and that’s why we’re seeing an increase in the number of road defects throughout the county.”

Akin to a football manger telling the presenter, “It’s a game of two halves,” tell us something we don’t know, like perhaps coupled with Dr McClelland’s valid point is also the unmentioned minor technicality they failed dismally to repair potholes for the last two previous years, minimum. Yeah, the increase of road defects is caused by bad weather, I’ll give him, but bad management too. Like my washing-up, if you don’t address the issue promptly, we see potholes on potholes on potholes, on, well, you get the picture; it’s of a lunar landscape, and you’re cycling one of those old Boneshaker bicycles over it.

Potholes are so rife in Wiltshire; people have started using them to give directions. “Oh-argh, go down road for six potholes, past the pensioners playing street golf, you’ll see a really massive pothole, not the one where Kate Winslet is grasping driftwood crying over drowning Leonardo DiCaprio, but a much deeper one, turn right there and it’s just past the third pothole on the left!”

Okay, you roll your thunder; cease the satirical ranting and tell us what we can do about it, I hear your cry. Here’s the longwinded Wiltshire Councillor Dr McBellend again, with the official advice: “Wiltshire Council has an online reporting system called MyWilts that people can use to report problems on the council’s roads and footways. This can be either accessed by computer or an app downloaded from the relevant app store. Reports received from MyWilts are processed accordingly and customers updated through the Council’s reporting and management systems.”

Like everything these days, from parking your car to ordering at Nandos, you must go to a website, download an app, create an account, and customise yourself to the inner-workings of the profiteering geek mate of the council who invented it.

According to the Wiltshire Highways Safety Inspection Manual, depending on priority and road size, it can take anything up to 60 days for them to address the issue, which, based on past experience, seems to be to send a team out to inspect, possibly spray paint a colourful circle around it, or in severe cases stick a traffic cone in it, return to base to file the report and grab some tea and custard creams. By which time umpteen drivers have lost a wheel in the pothole you’re attempting to inform them about.

Technophobes are shit out. I like to think I’m savvy, but it took me little under an hour to make head nor tail of the app, and report a SINGLE road defect, when the county is awash with them, on every single road, multitudes of them, potholes on potholes, remember? How much spare time do they think we have?

One has to wonder how Councillors get to county hall. Are they blindfolded? Are they teleported in like Captain Kirk? How come they cannot see what we see? Oh yeah, the gas-guzzling Chelsea tractor brigade, I forgot; why don’t we all just save up and buy ourselves a 4×4, goes the pig-ignorant Conservative thinktank. Because we’re scrapping the barrel to put food on the table due to their general incompetence of a thousand other issues I could rant a tangent on, that’s why, and we really don’t need the added expense of avoidable car repairs.

Oh, but, oh, what’s that you say? You can reclaim expenses from Wiltshire Council if your vehicle is damaged due to potholes? Yes, I hear that, and after months of paperwork there’s been some success stories; ninety days is the legal maximum allowed, they will take advantage of that while your kids go hungry.

Provided you take a multitude of photos and videos of the damage, the questionable pothole with a tape measure or sonic deep-sea echo sounder, and its surroundings, provide indisputable evidence it was said pothole, add some interesting history about any neighbouring landmarks, and possibly bribe them with proper posh Waitrose biscuits rather than working class custard creams, you can retrieve some but rarely all your costs, should you suffer an incident there and then. But what of the gradual wear and tear of our cars on our daily journeys across this scabrous terrain of endless bottomless chasms? These surely are both insurmountable and incalculable, and what’s more, impossible to prove. I quizzed a local mechanic.

Coils, springs and other such technical bits and bobs are forever being replaced at his garage, he informed me, and was undoubtedly convinced it was due to the constant driving through potholes. He extended it to suggest driving in France wouldn’t cause these problems; whoa, controversial!

Now, I’m sorry for my rude alteration of the councillor’s name, if you noted it, and if I could take it back I would, but I’ve said it now and it’s out there; just a typo really. I’m aware Tories can be touchy when pointing out their incompetence and hypocrisy, and often act like a told-off toddler, but name-calling is simply not cricket. I’m aware it’s a tricky issue and perpetual, but you did sign up for the job, so, no temper tantrums, let’s be logical here; the app is a get out clause for the council, if it’s not reported there it’s as mythical as unicorns.

For I made the gag out of frustration, not so much for the crumbs of pasty I lose while driving the milk float over these bumps, for I’m not so petty to calculate and invoice the council for a six pack of Ginsters, but for the pothole so deep it shattered my window, covering me in shards and leaving me in need of a change of underwear, for the repair of my car’s wheel balance, tyres, for the fact that although I drove over the window-shattering pothole carefully for the next month or so, and it was finally repaired, to note the other six or seven potholes surrounding that one wasn’t, and they’ve equalled it now in deepness. It’s a never-ending problem, I accept this, but for crying out loud, be the hero who finds a doable solution, and I can eat my words rather than have to mince them.

I’m aware we’ve bricked ourselves into this asylum the lunatics have taken over and that’s democracy, but if they’ve found a workable solution on the continent, are we too proud to pinch their strategies? Opps, grey area, fetch my blue pissport and I’ll shut the door behind me.

No good waffling figures to me about how much the council have spent on infrastructure, while I gaze at the new digital road sign in Worton, which flashes up the driver’s speed with a happy or sad face emoji, when one car I witnessed this week clocked 72mph and didn’t fuss to slow past the school gates through that 30mph zone. And, pray tell, how much did it cost to install it, compared to the revenue it’ll provide? It’s not how much you’ve got but what you do with it.

While it may well slow the considerate fella who’s accidentally slipped into 33mph, no emoji is going to cause these thoughtless potential murderers to take caution, but a copper with a speed camera offering a huge fine and lifetime driving ban might. That’d raise some pennies for tarmac, and reduce traffic as well as encouraging lorries to use the motorway and not shortcut through towns and villages; blimey I’m full of radical notions this morning; give the man a Twix.

But failing any of them, councillor, take a pay cut, live like the rest of us sufferers, avoid expensive luncheons, buy bargain custard creams for county hall’s biscuit barrel, or pick up a shovel, get your Fairy-Liquid-kind hands dirty for once in your sad little life and fill the potholes in yourself! Or do they keep potholes as it’s symbolic of where this country is heading?

Who can say for certain?

I can, “for certain,” there you go, job a good ‘un, shame the same can’t be said for Wiltshire Council’s road policy!


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,…

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…

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,…

Song of the Week: Sienna Wileman

Okay, I admit it, our Song of the Day feature was too optimistic, and failing every day to post a tune meant it fell by the wayside.

Song of the Week, think I can manage that, just! Let’s reintroduce it now, every Wednesday without fail, pinky promise, and do the first one right about now! Swindon Songstress and actor Sienna Wileman released this gorgeous song, For Nobody Else, this week.

And bonus, the video has some shots of Devizes in it, which doesn’t give her extra points, but then again, it doesn’t need them, it’s a hauntingily angelic song, as is Sienna’s style. You can find her first single, Petals, opening our Julia’s House compilation album, volume 2.

This one echoes that beauty and improves on it, too. Keep up the great work, Sienna!

REVIEW – Comedy Night @ The Piggy Bank, Calne – Tuesday 31st January 2023

What’s Funny About Tuesday Night?

Andy Fawthrop

You know how we’ve previously moaned on and on (and on) on these pages before about the lack of comedy in D-Town?  Well – guess what?  No – there’s still a yawning gap where the comedy should be in our lovely town.  But we continue to live in hope.

So, instead, desperate for a few laughs on a dark Tuesday night, I made my way to the slightly less lovely town of Calne.  And more specifically to The Piggy Bank micro-pub in the centre of town for their first ever Comedy Night, presented by Stroud-based Crazy Bird Comedy Club.

The place was absolutely packed, being a sell-out well before the night, and people were in place long before the show started in an effort to get a good seat.  It didn’t really matter, as the place is quite small, so every seat in the house was a good one – and that included Yours Truly, doing a shift behind the bar to help the guys out.  And a busy old night it was.

Our MC for the evening was the affable Jon Pearson (described as the best MC in the Midlands, whatever that means), who proved to be a great foil for a lively audience that was definitely up for it.  Although it’s become almost standard practice these days for comedians to gently take the piss out of the town they’re currently playing in, it was more than entertaining to witness Calne being put to the verbal sword for a change.

First up was Joe Wells, a hunk of a man, who was an immediate hit with the audience.  His routine was basically, with many digressions and plenty of raucous audience interaction, a riff on his own autism (or “neuro-divergence”), wherein he took the interesting line of sympathising deeply, in a maximally patronising way, with those who are, sadly, non-autistic.  Great stuff.

After a decent interval, and some more audience-rapping from our MC, it was the turn of the diminutive Julia Stenton, describing herself as a “bad case of adult acne”.  Some nice observational sketches followed, with material that was both hilarious and near the bone (but without ever resorting to the poor comedian’s escape-clause of sheer crudity).  Another class act.

And finally, onto our headliner Nick Page.  Here was a big guy who was comfortable on the microphone, relaxed and unhurried, knowing how to play the audience, riding the laughs and timing his pay-offs perfectly.  His material on the benefits (or otherwise) of having children was exquisitely judged.  Bang-on comedy in my book.

And then we were done.  Four acts and, to my comic tastes at least, four absolute winners.  You can’t say fairer than that.  So, ten out of ten, and well done to owners Malcolm and Karen Shipp for having the vision, the energy, and the determination to put this show on.  And proving, yet again, that there’s definitely a taste for live comedy.  Let’s face it – there can’t be very much to laugh about in Calne, so they really, really needed this.  But the gauntlet has now been thrown down to anyone in D-Town who fancies getting some regular comedy nights going again.  Please?  Someone?

The next Crazy Bird Comedy is at The Piggy Bank later this month, Tuesday 28th March, featuring MC Harvey Hawkins, and comedians Jethro Bradley, Samantha Day and headliner Andrew Bird.  Tickets are already flying out of the door, but if you’re quick there’s still time to bag yourself a great night out with a great atmosphere and some great craft beer.