Talk in Code’s Secret

New single from Swindon’s indie-pop darlings, and, as foreseen, it’s blinking marvellous, Gloria.

“Eighties,” I yell, but my daughter corrects me. It’s a tune from Miley Circus, apparently. Story checks out, searched YouTube for it. Now I’m distracted from reviewing Talk in Code’s new single, Secret, by her suggestive gyrations in a black studded swimsuit and equally studded elbow-length gloves. Only from a health and safety perspective, you understand. Metallic studs are unsuitable for swimwear, gloves would fill with water; I should warn her PR.

When behind the wheel of Dad’s taxi, my daughter plays DJ; curse that built-in Bluetooth function. Least I can pretend I’m hip with the kids by distinguishing my George Ezras from my Sam Fenders. “Ah,” but I clarify, “I didn’t mean that, I meant it sounds like something from the eighties.” She agrees, tells me they’re all inspired from the eighties. “Like, Blondie,” I add, she’d have to Google that, but she watched The Breakfast Club and Uncle Buck, she is aware of the style of sound demarcated by eighties electronica pop.

Refrained from telling her about these guys though, some things are best left in the past.

If a retrospective inclination influenced by the decade of Danny Kendal v Mr Bronson, Rubik’s cubes and skinhead Weetabix characters is good for you, ok, look no further than upcoming local bands like Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways. I’ve often grouped these two on this very notion, and I’m delighted to note via my comparison, the Daydreamers are supporting the Talkers at Level III in Swindon on November 20th, my only annoyance is that it’s a Friday and I can’t make it.

To differentiate, Daydream Runaways take a rock edge, the like of Simple Minds, but Talk in Code seem to strive for the electronica angle of bands like Yazoo and The Human League. They do it far better than well though, and if I branded it, “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle,” their last single, Taste the Sun, back in July, embodied this more than anything previous. So, here we are again with another belter which adds to this uniform style, though the climate may not be so clement, Secret sparkles too.

It snaps straight in, this aforementioned feel-good 80s electronica guitar pop sound, and it’s so beguiling and catchy it’s certain to appeal wide, agelessly. If I was attending a local festival and Talkers took the stage, I’d imagine my daughter and I would dance together, and right now with her tastes directed to my odium, calculatingly sweary modern pop R&B, this would be a miracle! I do not twerk.

Secret is right out of a John Hughes movie then, a stuck record comparison I say to near-on every release by them and Daydream Runaways too, but this undeviating style is consistently cultivating and improving. Lyrically it’s characterised by the same simple but effective theme of optimistic romance, and a bright, catchy chorus, as every classic pop song should.  

The band cite pop classics such as King of Wishful Thinking, How Will I Know and Alexander O’Neal’s Criticise as evaluations. I can only but agree, but add, those can be cringingly timeworn, whereas, this is not Dr Beat, no need for an ambulance sound effect, and the Talker guys don’t got no hairspray, this is renewed and exhilarating for a modern generation.

You can pre-save TALK IN CODE’s brand new 80’s infused indie pop belter, on the platform of your choice and listen in full, but it’s not released until November 16th. Yeah, I know right, I’m so lucky to have these things in advance, but with Secret I can guarantee by the time it comes your way, I’ll still be up dancing to it, perhaps my daughter too. Care to join me on the dancefloor? But oi, watch the handbag, Miley, and don’t yank my diddy-boppers, I’m no that kind of guy; saving myself for Gloria Estefan.


The Conclusion to my Black History Month Articles….

If Dunbar’s number is a thing, then isn’t it a human instinct, be it more than a wish but perhaps a need, to group people outside of your given sphere? Does this constitute prejudges, and are they therefore ingrained in society through nurture and history? I’m continuing to bash on about Black History month before it’s over; remember, no one is forcing you to read this!

An evening in the mid-nineties and the Dreadzone gig at the Shepard’s Bush Empire ended. Me, a tad intoxicated, has drawn the short straw, gathered friend’s cloakroom tickets and patiently wobbled in the crammed queue to retrieve our jackets. A couple in front had found love, or lust at least, and I mean directly in front, like, so close if I wanted, I could have joined in. Pecking very nearly turned to copulating, as the couple furiously exchanged salvia. I confess, I was nauseous and uncompromising, the queue packed so tight it was difficult to concentrate my path of vision elsewhere, and even if I did, I could not disguise the sound of their slurping.

Now, I fully accept my mouth can override my sensitivity in times of intoxication, yet to me I enquired of the couple politely. I’m pleased for them, that they found mutual attraction and desired to explore it, but I wished they could wait until somewhere a tad more private. My subtle approach, if memory serves me right, was to say, “oi, do you have to do that here?” They retorted and accused me of homophobia, as they were a same sex couple. I affirmed I was no such thing, and annoyed by the accusation I replied it was nothing to do with gender, if they were a heterosexual couple I’d have been equally as irritated. Yet, till this day, I worry myself, were they right? Does this mean I’m homophobic?

Personally, the idea of myself engaging sexually with a guy is defo off the cards, but I like to think I’ve a liberal opinion and I accept others feel different. I know homosexuality happens in nature, I’m aware homosexuals were persecuted in the past, and I support the ethos of live and let live. But I’m nerved by the incident, and wonder if I might have reacted differently if they were heterosexual. I even contemplate if my attitude would be different if they were both female; might have perversely enjoyed the show; there, I said it, I’m only human! Is this an ingrained prejudice I’m unaware of, or mechanically unprepared to accept? I’m not ruling it out.

If you figure I tend to write these opinion pieces with a theme of personal perfection, that I do not stand accused myself, I give you this. Yet, I’d still be angered by a reaction of someone who falls into this grouping who states, yep, I’m afraid you are a hypocritical homophobic denier, defo, because I am adamant, I am not. I see the same reaction by a few in my recent articles about racism. They are unyieldingly positive they are not racist, to the point I believe they genuinely consider they are not. But, are they? “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Yet, as evident in the parish council’s refusal to display an exhibit in their phonebox on the theme from their village youth, they criticise recent motives and analyse with a natural bias, it seems to me. Yet the council in Urchfont are volunteer residents and is, obviously, not systematically racist. But I have to wonder if our history has ingrained prejudges into us, be it via the slave trade, The Buggery Act of 1533, passed by Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII, punishable by death, or every attitude pre-The Chartist Movement of 1838, and, of course, the Women’s Social and Political Union formed in 1903.

Though, despite the umpteen explanations the slogan, for it is such, black lives matter doesn’t mean that all lives do not, it’s still paraded around as rejoinder. Yes, small groups may’ve used the slogan in their name, and some may be activistic, the motto is simply decentralised social movements advocating for non-violent civil disobedience, and in any protest, some will disobey the objective and cause trouble.

A campaign only becomes political if a dogmatic rule opposes it. Negative reactions of the president, our own drive here in Britain to disengage immigration policy, remarks from our own royal family and jokes made by our prime minister, and, obviously, the murder of George Floyd, suggests it is. Unfortunate as it may be, often such a violent reaction is what it takes to raise awareness and change. On 19th February 1913 a bomb brought down ceilings and cracked walls in the home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George; Emmeline Pankhurst claimed responsibility. Suffragettes smashed windows, cut telephone lines, spat at police and politicians, cut or burned slogans into turf, sent letter bombs, destroyed greenhouses at Kew gardens, attacked a doctor was with a rhino whip, chained themselves to railings and blew up houses. 1912, Mary Leigh threw a hatchet at Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, for change we now consider ludicrous not to uphold.

In this I see agism too, the campaign is worse than anything you recall with rose-tinted specs.  “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Who said this, was it recent? Answer; Marcus Tullius Cicero, 43 BC, Rome.

I’m permitted to quote Keith Rowe of the classic reggae duo, Keith & Tex, when back in June he posted these thoughts; “As I digest this moment in time and observe what’s been going on in this country [USA], I am disappointed, yet hopeful, that maybe this time there will be changes in policing.

Disappointed that it would take an uprising to get people’s attention to what African Americans have been experiencing for generations. It took this latest despicable video of George Floyd to realize that this has been our reality. I’m hopeful because it’s the young people that are leading this protest.  Let’s not forget that back in the 60s, protests were being led by young people. Martin Luther King was only 26 when he started leading the nonviolent protests. 

We need an end to systemic racism and it’s good to see multigenerational, multicultural protests going on in many cities. You’re either a racist or an anti-racist, there is no in between. Having served the military for 20 years, I am amazed at how militarized the police have become. I’ve never heard before civilian protests referred to as a “Battlespace” It’s as if they are facing an enemy force and are going to battle them in the streets.  We need to relook at how policing is done in this country and make drastic changes. It just can’t go on like this. Black Lives really do Matter!”

I left this quote unedited, as I thought it inspiring, heartfelt and an honest reflection, but, the subject of this series or articles was principally intended to focus on a local issue. Racism is wrought, everywhere. How do we compare? To put it mildly, we’re in the thick of affluence, much of which is unescapably the profits of the slave trade. Consider Simon Watson Taylor, to name but one, the MP for Devizes from 1857 to 1859. His family derived its wealth from sugar and slavery in the Colony of Jamaica. In 1852, Simon Watson Taylor inherited his Jamaican estates from his mother Anna, he lived…guess…at Urchfont Manor.

Taking the advice given at my online meeting with Gurpreet Sidhu of BLMintheStix, an organisation addressing racism in rural areas, to be open and unafraid to discuss the subject with those affected, I did chat with a Jamaican-born friend living here. He messaged me, to say he found my article interesting. I suggested the Urchfont phone box issue is bizarre, stating I didn’t believe those parish councillors are deliberately being prejudiced, but they’ve believed the media propaganda against BLM and constitute any reference to racism as being arranged by some political activist organisation, enough to stop children of their own village displaying an art exhibit. As an artist himself, he replied, “that is sad,” and was keen to point out, “how it was, how it is and how it will always be.” Though he expressed content living here and said he had no issues in his village, “all very friendly. Happy at my yard.”  Here is an important point I tend so see here, the negativity is rarely cast upon an individual locally, and for this much alone, we should be grateful.

I therefore stand by my original observation, no particular place could be viewed as more or less racist than any other, our own stands well and we should be proud of this. But we do need to consider this current movement is no more violent or dogmatically driven than any other previous campaign on any particular issue, it’s only a media interpretation of, their reasoning for is a drop in the ocean for debate I’m not willing to speculate without another two-thousand words. Which, we don’t need me harking on even more!

So, to conclude, before my fingers fall off, I feel our prejudges are indeed inherited and ingrained upon us unwillingly, and this is no one’s fault. But we should want to address them, and strive to change, so there will be a possibility that they will be eradicated in the future. As is the section of Haile Selassie’s 1963 address to the United Nations, recited by Bob Marley in his song War; “that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation; that until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”

If I thought for a second it is but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained, then there is no hope. I know it’s doubtful I’ll ever see that kissing couple in the Shepard’s Bush Empire again, wouldn’t recognise them if I did, but if I did I’d like to say, “I sincerely hope you are wrong when you surmise I’m homophobic, but if not, and I am, I intend to change my view.” For a generation whose grandparents stared in shock at Boy George on Top of the Pops in 1983, we have come so far. And to watch same-sex couples unquestioned on game shows and reality TV, and accredited children’s cartoons such as the ground-breaking “The Loud House,” which openly has the protagonist’s best friend parented by a gay couple, I have to be proud as a generation we have nearly attained equality. Yet I quiver and anger at the notion this is slowly being torn down around us.

Return this back to our original article, our interview with Gurpreet, when I asked “are racist attitudes increasing?”

“Only if we let it,” Sidhu replied.

“We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry;” those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty

Time is against me to get this out with haste, forgive me that I don’t to go on one of my usual longwinded rants, I know you love them, plus, you know I’m aching to do so!  

Suffice it to say we’re all horrified and angered by this government-voting-down-free-school-meals fiasco and Marcus Rashford’s righteous campaign. It’s been suggested by HuffPost, MPs have a bee in their bonnet about being called “scum” by Angela Rayner! Something about sticks and stones; let’s not dwell, but have a local honour’s list of who is here to counteract this appalling decision from the scum, sorry, I meant kindly government, and help out anyway they can.

Marcus Rashford asks one thing of us in a Tweet; sign the petition.

Nationally there’s many independent establishments rallying to offer what they can, and after the bad card the lockdown dealt them, their generosity should be awarded; a massive thank you to everyone offering their services. Least we can do is compile a list of local places, who, if you are struggling to put food on the table this bank holiday or Christmas break, can help.

If I missed you, please message us and miss you we will no longer! Bless you all.

Update: Wiltshire Council are on the case!

Press release from WC, and it’s good news…..

Free meals for vulnerable children in Wiltshire during school holidays

Wiltshire’s vulnerable children will benefit from free meals during October half-term after Wiltshire Council agreed to ensure families struggling with food poverty in the county are supported.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “We know that many families are feeling the financial pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to do all we can to support them.
“We want to ensure that children do not go hungry during these school holidays and want to ensure that Wiltshire families know that they will be supported during these difficult times by putting these measures in place. Therefore the council will be funding free meals during the October half term. This will be reviewed throughout the pandemic and we will continue to make sure that any child and family who needs help gets it. As we have done throughout, we will continue to work with our partners in the community and voluntary sector to make sure the needs of our residents are met at this unprecedented time. The work of our community groups has been, and continues to be, amazing and I must thank them for their tremendous support throughout the pandemic.

“If you are entitled to free school meals or universal credit and struggling to pay for food over half term, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub for support.

“Everyone in Wiltshire needs to play their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We ask that people regularly wash hands, maintain social distancing and wear face coverings where appropriate. This is the best way to keep us all safe as much as possible, and helps to prevent the spread of the virus.”

For more information on how to claim, please contact the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub Team on wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk or call 0300 003 4576. The team is available Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm.

Devizes

The Gourmet Kitchen Brownie in Poulshot is offering free packed lunches. Please message their Facebook page for more information.

The Cavalier on Eastleigh Road are offering a free lunch pack, (sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps to takeaway) available to collect from the pub for any child, during half term from 26th October. If you are in need of a packed lunch or know someone who might, please send them a message or call on 01380 725193

The Eastleigh Road Fish n Chip Shop is also offering free sausage and chips to school age children this half term, on Wednesday 28th between 4.15 -5PM.

The Raintree Indian Restaurant on New Park Street has taken the initiative too, during this half term week from Monday 26th to Friday 30th Oct.

For this special occasion, they will be open from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm for collection of a lunchpack everyday.

For every child, the lunch pack will include one chicken curry and pilau rice, one juice and a piece of fruit.

Parents or guardians, feel free to call them on 01380 725649, or send them a Facebook message, to request your free lunch pack. You can call between 5:00pm- 8:00pm everyday for the next day order. A massive thanks goes to the Raintree, who are really going the extra mile; “as a parent,” they say, “if you are going through difficulty during this hard time, please feel free to order one extra meal for yourself as well. No question will be asked.”

Please note, they won’t be able to take any order for the same day collection. Every order needs to be placed the day before during the mentioned time above.

Pearce Electrical Contractors in New Park Street, have decided as a business to support Marcus Rashford’s movement. In partnership with Biddles Cafe in the Shambles, they will be providing a warm bacon roll and hot drink to any child that usually receives a free school meal throughout half term free of charge, No questions asked. These will be available until 2pm each day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Potterne

The George & Dragon are providing free lunches and hot food over half term. Collection from the Pub for any child,

If you would like a pack lunch or a hot meal this half term for your child/children then please don’t be afraid to phone or text to book in their meal.

Available every day, collection times between 12pm-1pm

Phone 📞 01380 722139
Text 07814182252

Seend

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Brewery Inn at Seend Cleeve will have packed lunches made up ready to collect from 12 noon, offering a free school lunch during half term to those that our eligible. Please message them in confidence to make arrangements.

Melksham

The Future of Football organisation. From Monday next week Future of Football FC will be providing free takeaway packed lunches for those in the Melksham area, available for collection from Bowerhill Sports Field. Starting this Monday with 50 lunches and if the demand is there, we will up numbers for Tuesday and so on. Simply turn up at Bowerhill Sports Field and collect between 11.00am and 12.30pm. There is a GoFundMe page here to donate.

Marlborough

In Marlborough, a Facebook group has been set up, Love Marlborough Kids Meals.  A community initiative to make sure all Marlborough children have access to free meals during the current crisis. No fuss, no forms, no referrals. Just meals for kids who need them. Please like the page for more information. There are details of places taking part, including Sue Brady Catering operating in conjunction with the Town Hall. Meals are being distributed at St Marys Church hall on Silverless St.

Pewsey

If you’re in Pewsey and need support of any kind, from food to help with shopping and library services, there’s a community website which can help.

https://pcca.org.uk/

The PCCA says, “we have stepped up to fill a gap that government should provide and will be offering school meals through the school holidays. If you would like to offer time or donations please sign up at pcca.org.uk or phone 01672487022.
If you are a family who needs help you can call us confidentially or email meals@pcca.org.uk

Pewsey Spar shop say, “We will be providing a lunch for any child in need from Monday October 26 to Friday 30. Just pop instore with your child/children and we will give them a lunch. There is no shame in asking for help and accepting a helping hand. We, as always, are there for you.”

The Little Lunch Box in Pewsey High Street is also offering help. “With many children not receiving free school meals during the holidays we would love to help. If you are affected and finding it difficult during this time, please feel free to get in contact totally confidential, no judgement. We’re all in this together, no child should go hungry and  irrespective of the Free School Meals for half term decision – if you run out of food or necessities, or times are just tough, please don’t let you or your kids go to sleep on an empty stomach.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send us a private message. We will do anything we can to help. It may simply be a case of dropping off a food parcel and leaving. No one has to know and where others are concerned, it never happened.”   Phone: 01672 564901

The Woodbridge Inn are also providing lunches, see the poster.

Upavon

Contact the Ship if you require a free packed lunch for kids in Upavon.

Calne

There’s a Facebook group called Calne Town Dinners. Any volunteers who has cooked too much food and can supply you with a meal are encouraged to donate to the needy, for any reason.

Corsham

If you normally get a free meal at school, please visit to the cafe at Pound Arts with your adult, and they’ll give you a healthy meal for free. No need to buy anything. No questions asked.

Tasty Bites Sandwich shop on the High Street says, “if your child is normally entitled to a free school meal then bring them in,” and they’ll give you a free lunch bag for your child during half term.

Salisbury

Popeyes in Estcourt Road are offering free kids meals to those who need it. These are available:- For collection only- Between 4-6pm- Any kids meal option on the menu- Until Sunday 1st November 2020. You will also be able to choose:- Pot of beans OR- Side salad- Either Orange OR Apple & Blackcurrant fruit shoot (instead of a can of fizzy drink – if you wish). If ordering by phone, please just quote free kids meal. If ordering in person, please just show this message (taken from their Facebook page) when placing your order. Not available online.

Chisldon

The Patriots Arms is offering a free lunch pack available to collect from the pub for any child. The lunch pack is made up of a sandwich, drink, piece of fruit and a bag of crisps. Please message or call Sunny on 07807 037231 or Sanjay on 07587 694373 

Swindon

Mazza’s Munchies has teamed up with G Waste and Your Sport Swindon to offer free lunch packs for any children who are in need of food. Please message them if you can to arrange collection or simply turn up at our snack van at B&Q Swindon, Great Western Way.


Not just businesses helping out…

Another interesting angle to this I’ve just been informed about, is that out in the villages some people have been posting on their village Facebook pages, inviting any needy over to their home for lunch. For me, this proves undoubtedly, they are not doing this to promote a business, only to help in a time and issue the government are callously snubbing.

Potterne

Anna Villette in Potterne contacted us to say she had done just this, posted on Potterne’s village Facebook group for people in need to message her, where they could be invited over for tea as their guest, with her own children. How utterly selfless and decent is that? Well done and thank you, Anna. If you’re in Potterne and do wish to contact Anna, please message the page and I will pass on her phone number. She is even willing to put portions in a plastic tub to takeaway if preferred. “I knew I was hoarding those tubs for a reason,” she told me!

Devizes

If anyone in any other villages or in towns are thinking of doing similar, and wish us spread word, do let me know! KJ Jeffreys in Devizes is also willing to help.

Trowbridge

Caroline Jackson (click name to email) is planning to cook Spaghetti Penne Pasta on Monday for families in need in Trowbridge. Please could parents let Caroline know how many meals they would like & their address. She plans to deliver on Monday afternoon between 3-5pm.

Barred from his own local!

That’s all I’ve found so far, going to get this article up and running as time is short, but please, if you’ve a service to offer you’d like to me to list, contact Devizine and let’s get as comprehensible list as possible. Half term is upon us, but this could extend to Christmas holidays too.

Here, Danny Kruger, MP for Devizes, admits he doesn’t read your emails, “These citizens send abusive emails which, they may like to know, I never read: my team just delete them without bothering to show me.” You have to admire his honesty if nothing else.


Zoom Like an Egyptian: Wiltshire Museum Half-Term Activities!

Bangles not required, entertain your saucepans over the half-term with some Egyptian themed art and craft activities at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, which is linked to their current Out of Egypt exhibition.

Tuesday 27 October and Wednesday 28 October you could find out about the Ancient Egyptians through their artefacts? Find out about mummification then create a mummy mask, a golden amulet and hieroglyphic bookmark to take home. Finish your session with the chance to see some of the amazing real artefacts from the Out of Egypt Exhibition.

The museum ensures it is Covid-secure, by putting a number of measures in place; details on their website.

And on Thursday 29 October – 2pm, you can zoom like an Egyptian with a digital event for curious kids. The Museum are offering Curious Kids the chance to engage with the museum and get creative as a family, via Zoom!  The session will also be inspired by their “Out of Egypt” Exhibition from Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Ideal for children ages 2 to 5 (including reception aged children) the session will last 30 minutes and will be broken up into short sections, to focus on your interaction, rather than attention to the screen.

Other craft activities you can do yourself with advice via videos created by local artist, Emma Kerr, is to make your own Egyptian mask using household items such as milk-bottles or from natural ingredients. Visit the website for more craft ideas for all the family.

Details and booking from the website. General entry to the Museum:

•             Thursday, Friday and Saturday – 10am to 4pm (closed 1pm to 2pm)

•             OPEN Sunday 25 October and Sunday 1 November – 11am to 3pm.

Pre-book to ensure entry, as they are continuing to limit numbers.

The exhibition, featuring genuine Egyptian artefacts, including scarabs and mummified animals, mummy masks and wrappings, shabti (a figurine found in many ancient Egyptian tombs) figures and jewellery, Out of Egypt closes on November 1st.


The Return of Wilding; Falling Dreams

It doesn’t hang about, it doesn’t drift dreamily as some previous tracks on the Soul Sucker debut EP, unbelievably near-on a couple of years ago, but it is unmistakably Wilding, this beguiling new tune from George Wilding, back with his band after lockdown. As a frustrating era for all creative groups, it feels as if with “Falling Dreams” they concentrated all their het-up energy, impetus and vigour, directed it into a trunk, padlocked it for a few months, then smashed the deadbolt and channelled it direct into an adroit three-and-half minute explosion.

Excellence is a watermark of Bristol’s Wilding, what initially began as a backing band for our homemade favourite lead singer, George Wilding’s prodigious young solo career, I expected no less. Though, while it’s not excessively upbeat it rocks steady, but Falling Down is a grower, appeal increases with every listen. It fits their self-penned label, psychedelic Britpop, but what is more, unlike Hendrix and Joplin it’s not psychedelia lost in time, similarly with Britpop darlings Oasis or Blur, which are somehow suspended in nineties nostalgia, a more apt comparison would be the Doors, a band with jazz and classically trained elements, and wild frontman poet, their sound is timeless.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

If Soul Sucker received regular rotation on BBC Radio 2 from Graham Norton and burgeoning interest from major labels, here is a natural progression and a multi-layered detonation, compacted into one song. Writer and frontman George, multi-instrumentalist Perry Sangha, bassist James Barlow and drummer Dan Roe have shattered expectations and produced something here to refine their style. If this is a glimmer of what is to come, you had better watch out.

Why? Because, as I said to George, there’s so much good music being released during this troubled time for musicians, if they can get some writing and production out to help fill the shortfall, it’s all good. “I suppose that’s been the upside,” he replied, “everybody has so much time on their hands to create.”

The theme of Falling Dreams is ambiguously defined, as any strong songwriter should allow audience interpretation. To me it feels bitterly like a broken romance theme, but George jests, “they’re usually about girls, but ‘Falling Dreams’ is just about being fucking cool,” adding, “it’s about me…” Herein requires some prior knowledge to his character to fully appreciate, as far from egotistical, George’s charisma lies with tongue-in-cheek witticisms shadowing a selfless good egg. But yeah, he is fucking cool too! They all are, this song verifies it.

To see what I mean, hold out for its release this Friday, 23rd October. If you’re used to George providing entertaining covers on our pub circuit and his sublimely succulent solo EP’s of dreamy indie, this will be a wonderful surprise, but as I said, its skill and catchiness is neither unexpected or unmistakable.


On the Climbing Frame with Gecko

If our last music review from Ruzz Guitar impressed me for its exploration of traditional blues styles, note I’m not conventional and you need not rewind progress to appease me; I love Climbing Frame, the second forthcoming album by London-based Gecko, equally, but for completely opposite reasons.

Partly, it reminded me of the time Louis Theroux rapped for one of his “Weird Weekend” episodes. In the mockumentary Theroux was advised by the US rap producers to “keep it real,” yet upon drafting lyrics about eating cheese and driving a compact car, sardonically citing as that as what is real to him, they contradictorily sniggered it off and recommended he rapped on cliché subject matter; bling, hoes, cold cash, etc.

If commercial US hip hop has lost its direction, UK rap thrives and remains faithful to the origins by pushing new boundaries. But if you feel the midway “cocknee” chat-come-singing style, the likes of Lilly Allen and Kate Nash, has come of age and flatlined for being samey, Gecko is a refreshing breeze of originality, and so multi-layered it’s difficult to pin it down and compare. Fact is, I’m uncertain defining it as “rap” is a fair shout, as hip-hop fashioned beats here have been left to the bare minimum and what we have is intelligent chat, often thought-provoking or comical, which slips into song over either acoustic indie guitar or retrospective electronica pop; as if Scritti Politti met the Streets.

If you’re contemplating, sounds rather geeky, I’d reply ah, it could head one of two ways, and in the hands of many it’d be bad news, but I’m happy to report Gecko accomplishes it in a proficient and highly entertaining way.

Awash with sentimental or witty verses reflecting on all manner of unique themes, the bulk of Gecko’s thoughts are honest observations, whole-heartedly personal, often retrospective anecdotes. Gecko does not uphold the ego or bravura of prominence; rather like Jarvis Cocker, there’s a contestant notion he’s opening his soul and depicting his innermost feelings, but is never without a punchline, and never afraid to show compassion. After a spoken word intro, for example, the opening song, “Can’t Know all the Songs,” is an upbeat riposte which any live performer could identify with; the annoyance of an audience shouting requests he doesn’t know. It’s ingeniously droll.     

But if the opening tune cites Gecko’s mature issues, the title track follows on this juvenile running theme, reflecting on childhood. The climbing in frame in question is a fallen tree, an amusing photo of Gecko estimated age of eight as the cover design reinforces this notion. Gecko perceives the unusual and expresses it inimitably, here, a reference to an age where we once recycled nature’s way for childlike kicks. Hope that the youngest people in this world will turn the apocalyptic hand that they’ve been dealt into something positive that we have not yet seen; “they weren’t trying to be symbolic, they were just having a laugh, but where most saw an obstacle, they just saw a path.”

Soaring does similar, but reverting to a simple acoustic guitar riff, it highlights the awe of childhood innocence in discovering something they think is exclusive, only to be knocked back by their parent’s clarification. I can’t detail it anymore without it being a spoiler, but believe me, if you don’t see yourself in this song and laugh out loud, you must’ve been born an adult. However, Gecko twists the narrative with genius writing akin to John Sullivan, and completes the track with a sentimental and virtuous moral. Hence my concern of my comparison; UK rap is not nearly multi-layered enough; don’t know why I even mentioned it really, only in desperation to pigeonhole this unique sound.

After this other recollection, Gecko proceeds to explain the theme of the next song, and performs a sublimely sentimental tale of Laika, a Moscow stray used to send into space, from the point of view of the dog. Perfect example of what I’m getting at with my originality angle; who dreams up a theme for a song on this subject? Gecko is part songwriter part author, Jack London in this case, and a damn good one to boot.

Furthering the childhood theme and his unpretentious tenet, he takes it to the next step with a real recording from his childhood, displaying the roots of his talent.

It’s a chockful album of twelve tunes, Breathe maybe the most commercially pliable with uplifting eighties synth-pop goodness. Yet Always and Pass it On plod like nineties indie anthems, Stereo MCs fashion. Whereas there’s a piano-based ballad, All I Know, and whoa, back to acoustic splendour with an immature narrative called A Whole Life. Here, Gecko writes from the perspective of a child just started primary school, giving a speech to a reception class about his experiences in ‘big school.’ This is, quite simply, ingenious writing and played out with sentiments so ultrafine and intelligently placed, you could listen to Climbing Frame over and over and still pick out elements you may’ve missed.

Best start then, as it’s released this Friday, 23rd October. It’s so multi-layered and original I’d highly recommend it to anyone, loving any genre, with an open mind, and perhaps a twinkling for nostalgic dreams.


Urchfont Parish Council Turn Down Youth Art Display

Further to my article reflecting on black history month, and our chat with BLM in the Stix organiser Gurpreet Sidhu, I said I had a local issue to raise which could be conceived as the perfect example of the message I’m trying to get across regarding rural racism so ingrained we fail to recognise it, or simply don’t care to consider it as such. I was waiting for a response from relevant sources in order to give an impartial valuation. In the meantime, the good ol’ Gazette & Herald beat me to it!

In all fairness they didn’t make a bad job, but it’s the reactionary and presumptuous comments flowing on social media where the story warps out of all proportion and skewers the facts; keyboard warriors tend to do that.

Urchfont Parish Council’s Chairman, Graham Day explains, “at its meeting on 8th July, Urchfont Parish Council discussed a proposal for a possible use of the High Street telephone box which is owned by the Council. A lengthy debate on this matter took place, with substantial public input both from those present at the meeting and others who had submitted comments to our Clerk.”

As with many rural out of service phone boxes, the community has gathered to find alternative usage for it. Many have become community hubs, noticeboards and others rural self-governed lending libraries. Urchfont’s phone-box was adopted by the Parish Council in 2018, “to protect it and to provide an unusual venue to promote village events and,” here’s the biting point taken from the phone box’s own Facebook page, “showcase work by local groups.”

So, members of such a group, Youth Of Urchfont, moved by recent racial injustices, proposed a display presenting art and literature on the theme of racism. Immediately the goalposts are moved, and the ethos of the phone box altered by councillors, stating, “the telephone box should be used only for local community purposes, as such this proposal covering the wider issue of racism should be rejected.”

For the first few minutes of the agenda’s proposal by the teenagers everything seems to be going well. But as the discussion flowed, it appeared an assumption the idea was linked to black lives matter, which rather than a slogan, is perceived by villagers to be an organised political movement.  Intent to maintain the Parish Council is a non-political body, it rejected the proposal five votes against three.

Spirally out of control, social media comments claimed all manner of fabrications, such as the youth wished to paint the phonebox. It hardly constituted any such vandalism, just a display of art and literature on the subject of racism, rather than a paint job, or even a salute to the BLM movement. What is a given thing for the Parish Council, is that the youth are someway promoting BLM, when really, they’re simply reflecting on racism in general; a fair observation? I asked one of the parents, David Kinnaird.

“They had never suggested painting the phonebox!” he stated. “Neither did they ever suggest any support for the BLM movement. When they first messaged the community bell to say they wanted to do something they immediately said BLM might be too political, and so the kids knew that this was off the table.  Sadly, and predictably, most of the opposition stemmed from perception of what the movement represents, and not to what was actually proposed. In fact, they didn’t really know what they wanted to display, no idea at all really, just wanted to do something. It was lockdown, they hadn’t been to school for months and wanted to do something…”

One of the youths, Polly, explained to the Parish Council, that she is really passionate about the proposed display. She questioned the fact that the kiosk had been previously used for political displays, citing the VE day soldier, for example. Wiltshire Council had expressed solidarity with BLM movement, protests had taken place in Wiltshire highlighting human rights, and racial inequality issues. Polly believed that the display will highlight all of these issues, adding it could link with other charities and be a great show for the Village. The Chairman then closed the meeting for public participation.

Councillor Mr Kemp made a statement outlining the ethos of the usage for the phonebox, including “local residents had an opportunity to exhibit artisan skills, workshops or art work,” and “it supported the interests of the community as a whole.” He strongly objected, virtually pitchforking the idea, stating “BLM, a patently political movement, is clearly the catalyst, a movement that is demonstrably contentious and of itself offers little, to enhance the lives of the Urchfont community. Unfortunately, a mood of ‘if you are not with us then you must be against us’ currently prevails and it can be easier to acquiesce in the face of public demand, against the better judgement of the individual or organisation, when that position is both emotive and forcefully declared.”

“It is clear from additional comments that the BLM movement and the (sometimes offensive) rhetoric associated with it resonates,” he continued waffling, “while these may be the legitimate expressions of personal views, the politically divisive nature underlying the issue as a whole is clear and cannot be ignored.” And, democratically, it wasn’t.

Here comes the opinion part, watch out! Ah, you know me well enough by now, not to possibly or in any way suggest this is concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, and allow you to be the judge of if it’s concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, or not, though it’s certainly possible it could be conceived as concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism.

The irony is, rather than allow a display organised by enthusiastic youth of their own village, encourage and support free-thinking from young people in an idyllic but humdrum Wiltshire outpost detained in lockdown, the alternative is nothing, and the phonebox currently and since the time it was suggested back in June exhibits such, absolutely nought, nothing, nada.

Nothing until these last few days, where the annual event “candles around the pond,” was reduced to “candles in the phonebox,” and raised funds for the church. And there was me thinking in Christianity the candle represents the light of God, and their ethics endorsed virtuous behaviour within its moral theology, as is their duty put in Leviticus 19:18 to love thy neighbour as thyself, and extend an unconditional hand of friendship that loves when not loved back, that gives without getting, and ever looks for what is best in others.

And here, their own children were rejected an art display as if they were suggesting a riot. To me, that is a sad reflection on today’s blinkered and hypocritic rural society and the very reason we need to openly discuss an issue most would wish to be eradicated many moons ago.


Today Devizes for Europe launched “Say #YES2ARealDeal” campaign.

Formerly local remain group Devizes for the EU has moved forward, changing it’s name to Devizes for Europe, and laid plans for action to avoid a no deal. Here’s their details from their press release…


Now that the UK has left the European Union, we need to take action to secure our future relations with Europe and avoid a catastrophic ‘no deal’ crash-out. 

The UK has entered the final phase of negotiations with the EU. Talks are not just about trade, critically important though that is. They cover everything: security, food standards, health, education, employment, research – and, yes, even fish.

The risk is that the talks could break down. That would mean ‘no deal’ – another catastrophe on top of the continuing nightmare of COVID-19. The electorate was promised a great “oven ready” deal but there is little sign of it so far.  

Our ‘#YES2ARealDeal’ pledge on our new website will use your signature to urge Danny Kruger and other Wiltshire MPs [Note 1] to confirm their commitment to the deal they promised in order to avoid a national catastrophe and the break up of the United Kingdom.

The Real Deal needs to include:

• Today’s high food, labour and environment standards

• Tariff-free trade to and from Europe

• Visa-less travel in Europe

• Europe’s education and apprenticeship schemes

• Enhanced security through EuroPol

• European partnerships for research and medicines

Such a deal would keep the UK strong – and United.

“A ‘no deal’ risks dissolution of the Union.  Nobody voted for that. Time is of the essence. The transition period runs out at the end of this year. If by then the UK and the EU have not agreed terms for their shared future, there will be a ‘no deal’ catastrophe. It’s high time to make our voices heard!” said Kate Freeman, Chair of Devizes for Europe.

Lorry parks will not just transform Kent but using emergency powers 28 other lorry parks across England could be built to cope with border trading chaos after Brexit. 

We can expect delays of food and medicines, increased prices, and complicated travel to and from the continent.  All this at a time when the government’s energies should be focused on COVID-19 not to mention the climate change crisis.

“I urge everyone to sign the pledge to urge Danny Kruger and other Wiltshire MPs to do the same.”

Rural Racism; Welcome to BLM in the Stix

Could “is Devizes a racist town?” be a clickbait headline?! I’m not out to infuriate. Ah, that’s why I didn’t use it. That and, hope this to be only a part of a wider subject incorporating rural racism in a series of reflections for Black History Month. And here we meet an organiser of a new campaign highlighting a different angle of Black Lives Matter……  

Nicotine stained wallpaper curled off the walls and tacky brass jumbles hadn’t seen a duster for decades. We sauntered to the unattended bar. A balding head popped up from arranging glasses underneath it. The landlord scanned us with a discontented frown, paying particular attention to one of my friends. Long before I’d moved to Devizes, I was with a group who were residents here; it was the first time I’d been in a pub in this town. I’m not going to name the pub; this was many years ago, it’s changed hands and is now converted to a rather splendid bar. The landlord avoided eye contact, and called down to the cellar where it would become obvious his wife was below. “Love, we’ve got a darkie up here needs serving,” he sighed as he walked off.

My jaw hit the floor and I suggested we go elsewhere, but the target shrugged it off as routine; “it’s okay.” Recently, following a Facebook thread debating racism on a local group, one comment offered, “because Devizes is a racist town.” Do I agree? Not really, is the simple answer. Devizes is a wonderful market town of which we should be proud to live in, yet with any affluent area, racism lurks and often can be so ingrained it’s overlooked, accepted as the norm, or taken with a pinch of salt. I see it here, as I see it everywhere.

Image taken from Gazette & Herald article: Black Lives Matter gathering to be held in Devizes

The concern, then, is more generally and nationally; are racist attitudes increasing? “Only if we let it,” Gurpreet Sidhu replied during our online meeting. In August Gurpreet created a campaign group to raise awareness of racism in rural environments in the UK, called BLM in the Stix. Though it has no website yet, it operates over social media and has staged protest from her home in rural Essex. She moved from London for her son to attend the university, and because she wanted to live rurally, “it felt safe,” she explained.

But Gurpreet expressed, “you are three times more likely to be victim of racial abuse in the countryside than in urban areas.” We tend to associate racism as an urban issue, perceptibly being a more multicultural society. Yet, BLM in the Stix states, being active in fighting against racism is even more fundamental when your ethnic population is minimal. You will send a message to non-whites that they are supported and welcomed, and for those who are overtly racist you will be demonstrating that their behaviour is unacceptable; systemic racism.

Gurpreet Sidhu

Gurpreet specified this was the angle of the group, as I predicted the response to anything I write would be preaching to the converted. “It’s often denied, downplayed and dismissed,” she said, what was more important to her was opening up to the concerned and encouraging them to be active. “It’s not about targeting racists,” Gurpreet explained, “more about encouraging people to think differently, and act.”

I gave Gurpreet my above anecdote in the pub, and I said I feared discussing it with people of ethnic minorities. She looked shocked but far from surprised, and asked why I felt like this. That got me, I didn’t have an answer. Perhaps we should feel easier about discussing the subject, in turn the ethos of Black Lives Matter. Gurpreet suggested I should consider addressing the individual dishing out the abuse, “but not in a confrontational way.”

Black lives matter. Yeah, I know, right, “all lives matter” don’t they; well done you. If I had a pound every time… It’s an ingrained xenophobic get-out-clause, a shrewd one, but only one under “I’m not racist, but…” For the amount of times explaining is needed, you’d think the feeblest of minds could grasp, quite simply, no one is suggesting they don’t, but the focus of the objective is black lives matter equally. I beg we get over this stumbling block, BLM is but a slogan, like Keep Britain Tidy, or Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives; they’re direct, often sweeping and not all-encompassing.

Akin to when protests over the George Floyd murder in the US kicked off, the great orange one whacked one out on Twitter, as he tends to mindlessly do, stating antifa was a terrorist organisation and enemy of the state. Ha, there was me thinking the term “antifa” was simply an Americanism shortening for anti-fascist. Seems right-wing thinkers cannot fathom free-willed movements of the masses is possible, and have to therefore assume it’s some malevolent chief organisation, radicalising the left-wing; as if we’re far too stupid to have abstract thought ourselves. Just because you couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, others have this “thing” called sociability.

Contradicting my rant, though, as well as Gurpreet insisting her group was generally here to raise awareness, she stated they needed good case studies and hoped the campaign would be more organised, as far right groups tend to be. “We bury our heads in the sand at times.”

Alongside a Tweet from a conservative Afro-American writer, suggesting black people didn’t care for white do-gooders campaigning the issue, which was shared wide under the crass banner this guy somehow speaks for an entire ethnic worldwide population, one comment on a local thread which horrified me put that BLM was doing more worse than good, as it was encouraging racism. Gurpreet suggested the aims of BLM in the Stix were twofold, “helping doing anti-racism work,” and, rightfully contradicting the tweet, “asking white people to change and recognise it does affect them.”

“Racism is for every day,” she added. One thing is clear from our meeting, brushing it under the carpet and fearing to discuss it isn’t going to make it go away.  

Now, I’ve used the word “ingrained” a bit here, as our conditioning, particularly in rural environments where the majority are Caucasian, is entrenched historically. I honestly feel, knowing people I consider good people, but a little racist, that some often fail to even register how their thoughts and remarks are considered prejudice. We disguise and excuse them light-heartedly or with humour; that, I feel, is the issue with rural racism, here today.

So, during this black history month, expect this article to be part of a series in which we need to unbiasedly dig a little deeper. Both my reasoning and the fact I contacted Gurpreet was to expose a controversial rejection of a perfectly acceptable proposal to display some BLM related art by a local parish council. I await a response from said council before we can progress with it.  

For now, I asked Gurpreet how interested people can help. She suggested supporting them, in which you can like the BLM in Stix Facebook page as good start, but also getting involved with local BME groups, which lack funds as monies tend to be poured into city organisations.


The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, While Washing Up!

Who says men can’t multitask? I’m washing up and reviewing this forthcoming musical extravaganza…..

Ruling in my household, being the better-half does the majority of cooking, I therefore wash-up. And on sporadic occasions I cook, I still do the washing up. I know what you’re thinking; under the thumb, Worrow. I beg to differ, family are watching some revamped eighties game show; squeamishly sickening the first time around, or else a bronze lady of all teeth and earrings, in a buttery summer dress is assisting affluent chavs to relocate to a Mediterranean costa.

Meanwhile, I’m preparing my chore. First task is not to clear the drainer of previously cleaned utensils, that comes after I Bluetooth my phone to the soundbar. Firmly of the belief washing up should be done to music, and such a law should be implemented nationally.

Those completed, time to fill the sink with hot water and Fairy. Cheaper varieties a no-brainer, you use twice as much for the same effect. Much like my choice of music, others don’t have the same clout. For retrospective genres, such as rock n roll, today largely consists of wishy-washy tributes and anodyne honours of a once dicey outrageous bravura. Else there’s a disturbing scene fusing techno with swing to revamp classics which really don’t need or desire the wonky attention.

Let me be the first, I suspect, to compare Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue to Fairy washing-up liquid. But if you want the job of recreating the true spirit of bygone blues styles done properly, accept no substitute. Add equal amount of Fairy as needed with a cheaper alternative and you’ve got an Ibiza foam party in your kitchen.

I’ve got an advance copy of their instrumental album, ‘The Instrumental Sounds Of…’ not due for release until 6th December, but ready for pre-order; I strongly suggest you do. Because here’s a Bristol-based rockabilly/blues trio, with three-piece horn section, who encompass everything once rousing and electrifying about musical styles ranging from jazz to rock n roll, originally, and with a benchmark of contemporary quality.

While Ruzz’s singing is passable, the guitar is his true calling; Gretsch agrees and endorses this, if you don’t take someone chained to the kitchen sink’s word for it. In genres such as these, where one imagines and perceives the vocals to hold a deep Mississippi accent, to hear his Bristol enunciation is novel, but unusual. Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue have the astounding ability to stretch a song to the proportions of a space-rock band like Pink Floyd, but retain the frenzy of traditional rock n roll, which would once be over within three minutes. At that point, though, it’s nice to simmer it with occasional vocals, but it’s not their forte.

Here then, is what they do best; concentrated instrumentals, a collection of musical styles, based within the blues, that have influenced Ruzz throughout his career. A project Ruzz has been wanting to do, and lockdown has provided the time. I’m strutting across the kitchen, shoving plates and utensils roughly back in the cupboards they belong in, while contemplating how I didn’t fully appreciate my dad’s obsession with the Shadows. For their instrumental goodness may’ve gone over my adolescent head, at the time. But this is a blinding upbeat opening tune, Hold Fast, with remnants of The Shadows’ slide-guitar. Yet it’s blaring horns make it like Hank, et al were in a big band.

Now to the main task, wrist-deep in foamy water I’m timely scrubbing with brillo-pad, like the ivory of a boogie-woogie piano. Swing Thing maintains big band, but slides neatly into swing. It’s spectacularly captivating.

Three tunes in and it’s mellowed to a sax ballad with Hawaiian guitar riff. Longing to See You drifts, as I causally dip dinner plates into their foam bath, and caress them as if they’re sun-kissed skin of a beautiful señorita! The Instrumentals Of album strides jazzily, continuing with a slight nod to that tropical guitar on the fourth track. But this is shrewdly quirky and experimental, Ruffled Up is as if Miles Davis joined a big band.

So many influences but so meshed it’s hard to pick it apart and balance washed up items on the draining board. Men can multitask, believe it. Now I’m striding, Clint Eastwood style, to obtain a tea towel dumped on the breadbin like it was a six shooter. Duel at High Noon is as perceived by title; Ennio Morricone influenced Shadows.

Heating up back at the sink with some fiery jump blues to make Louis Jordan blush. Jump In does what it says on the tin; I’m doing Chuck Berry legs, rattling those pots and pans like glam rock never happened.

Mambo takes a hit next, Ruzz-style, added funk. Spag Mambo is like Starsky & Hutch doing the Charleston on a Cuban vacation. Gotta go barehand; I’d look stupid doing jazz hands with marigolds, but Swing G-String is swing firing on all cylinders. Dishes done; I’m jitterbugging the sides down, soggy J-cloth in hand.

Opportunity to clear waste from the plug hole, never an appealing part of the process, nevertheless I’m cool; Soulful Blues made it so. It’s equably soul-blues, Ruby Turner could drop vocals, but it never strays from its ethos, yet saunters wonderfully between the variety of jazz and blues from 1940 to 60. There’s one more tune, but the job is completed.

Hammer Down polishes with dirty, deep Mississippi jump blues with a clunky rock n roll double bass. Like the rest of this sublime album, it’s irresistible and beguiling. It can’t end early; have to extend the task for five minutes. The floor may look wooden, but it’s lino really; ask Turbo B, or any break-dancer the value of lino; the kitchen is my dancefloor. Time to watusi with broom; the Mrs will be delighted. Even bending to get every last fallen crumb into the dustpan was a pleasure with this album playing in the background; blooming marvellous stuff.

Click to pre-order; gorgeous Christmas pressie!

Julia’s House Gameathon is Back!

Now, I know some gamers who’ll quite willingly play videogames until the cows come home, and if there was a videogame where the objective was to herd cows back into their cattle shed, they’d probably play for longer, just to see what happens in level two!

Myself, I’m impartial. My son teaches me the complexities of modern gaming, but while I could potentially survive in a Minecraft realm, he is the equivalent of a god inside that block world. Now I’m told I’ve to retrain, forget how to craft a diamond sword, and concentrate on the ways of a game called Terraria.

I can’t keep up. Is there a game where you have to teach old dogs new tricks, I wonder? I’m still stuck in the Attic room in Jetset Willy (kids, you’ll have to Google that.)

Kids, you don’t know you’ve been born!

But if you’ve progressed from the rubber keys of the ZX Spectrum, you flop into a gamer chair for eons at a time, and Lara Croft is but a bygone childhood crush, you’ll take to this like Sonic the Hedgehog in a jewellers.

Ready, player one? The Julia’s House Gameathon is back! Their popular virtual fundraising challenge returns this autumn and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

I’ll say no more, I’ve got some birds to catapult at some green pigs. Oh, come back Pac-man, all is forgiven. But hey, if you’re into this brilliant idea, see Julia’s House website for more details….


Worsley Training Brings First Aid Course to Devizes Corn Exchange

The last first aid course I attended was quite some time ago, in plain old Wotton Bassett prior to the added Royal in their name, that’s how long ago it was. But did I learn anything from it, and do I remember any of it? Well, yeah, took some of it in, but, you know, it takes confidence to carry out first aid in an emergency, and refresher courses are essential.

Owner of Upavon’s Worsley Training, Louise Worsley, is a professional teacher with over ten years’ experience in the classroom, and over fifteen years of hands-on First Aid experience. With an instinctive ability to make learning First Aid memorable and enjoyable, she draws from this teaching to bring First Aid to life for participants, providing practical training grounded in realistic examples of how the techniques could be used.

Qualified through and regulated by Remote Emergency Care, Nuco Training and ProTrainings, Louise brings her “Emergency First Aid at Work or Basic Life Support course,” to Devizes Corn Exchange on Tuesday 10th November. 

The course includes basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator, for personal confidence, or a small business owner who needs the full 1-day accredited certificate to fulfil service to clients.

“I am planning to run the 4-hour emergency course concurrently with the full 6-hour accredited Emergency First Aid at Work,” Louise explained, “as the initial content is the same and then you can choose to stay on to cover the more everyday situations.”

The course will mix theoretical and practical learning and assessment, and the accredited certificate lasts for three years.

The cost per person including a manual and certificate is:

– 4-hour non-accredited basic life support £50

– 4-hour accredited basic life support £55

– 6-hour accredited emergency first aid at work £70

One question I wanted to ask Louise, as it’s bound to be a concern, being a first aid course is very hands on and practical, often involving close contact, how does she get over these obstacles in order to align it to current restrictions.

“Of course!” Louise replied, “I’ve been classroom teaching again since 15th June with these adaptations, when the covid level went from 4 to 3, so we were allowed to teach again, (click for Worsley’s COVID-19 Classroom Control Measures) and everyone has been really happy! Plus, the rule of 6 is excluded for work education and training.”

Louise will use the Ceres Hall, for this course, so at 90sq/m there’s plenty of space to socially distance.

So, is Louise a doctor? “No, I’m a teacher,” she explained, “This is one of the most common questions I get asked, when I say what I do. The assumption that you need to be a medical professional to be a first aid trainer is highly misleading.”

“Primarily because first aiders need to assess everything but diagnose very little. We gather all the information on levels of consciousness, breathing rates, sources of pain etc, and then pass that onto the doctors to establish exactly what is wrong. If immediate treatment is required e.g. for choking or using a defibrillator then we can step forward, but most of the time it is not that obvious.”

“Secondly, a medical degree is very different from a teaching degree. As a trainer you need to know how to present information so that the learners understand and memorise it regardless of the subject. Sadly, there are many first aid trainers out there who lack these vital teaching skills, even though their medical knowledge is way more advanced than what their learners need.”

“So, I am proud to say I am a qualified, experienced teacher, who also has plenty of hands-on first aid experience from over 8 years of leading adventurous expeditions overseas and more recently as a parent.”

Book your place on this first aid course, or for more information, click here.


Best Breakfast in Swindon?

So, on my Jack Jones I’ve time to kill this morning in that great western railway  megatropolis (least it is to us bumpkins, hanging onto a thread of Tory promise a train might one day stop in our backwaters.)

While I’m familiar with an antique Swindon of twenty-five years gone, and pockets of it remain surpringly unchanged, I’m alien to the contemporary choice of cafes and such. Still the objective is stomach-governed; get a decent breakie in me.

Thank heavens for the internet, innit tho? Gone is a time when a stranger would need swan around, hunting for a place to eat. One doesn’t recommend appearing like a tourist in Gorse Hill, I left my green wellies and Barbour jacket back at argh farmhouse. But tis where my intellectually far superior phone instructed me to head towards upon searching “best breakfast in Swindon.”

So, is The Butcher’s Cafe on Cricklade Road in that hill of gorse, the best breakfast in town? How the hell should I know, unless I trek the entire urban landscape stopping at each and every eatery? ….it’s a thought though. Something I’d be quite capable and motivated to attempt…let’s change the subject shall we? What the heck is a “gorse” anyway?

Away with such trivia and progessing to the nitty gritty. No doubt, The Butcher’s Cafe could justifiably call claim to hold the crown for best breakfast in Swindon, but it didn’t boast. It is, in it’s very essence, a no-frills, affordable home-cooked gaff, an ethos which wins my approval. I don’t need my baked beans served in a heart-shaped side-bowl and my cup of rosey on a doily. I need an English breakfast to be substantial, tasty and served with only a smile and ketchup. And that’s how it was.

Ticked nearly all my fussy boxes, yes sirey. As the name suggests it’s situated neighbouring a butchers, ergo sourcing those darn tasty sausages and bacon should come as no surprise, but the remaining ingredients were also cooked to perfection. It was in a word, scrumptious.

Where the egg would’ve fitted, if I’d wanted one, I’ve no idea!

Okay, nit-picking; I favour fresh tomatoes as apposed to tinned, and accept a slice of black pudding is reserved for north of the Watford gap and swanky folk in the south. Other than this, and that my no egg request wasn’t offered an alternative, a personal benchmark of greatness, it was a decent dish of quality and quantity; making the Butcher’s Cafe a very worthy gaff indeed.

It serves home cooked lunches and snacks, and it’s certainly not going to break the bank. Three quid for a smaller breakie, but you know me, large was £6.25 inclusive of what you don’t see in the photo was the perfectly toasted toast which arrived a split second later, and a mug of tea.

All round a nice, simple cafe with great service. Plucked out of the top ratings on TripAdvisor, there’s one who decided an autication over usage of the toilet, when they claimed staff mumbled their breath about customers using “their” facilities, was worthily of losing a whole four stars over. I figured I’d test the water, needed to point Percy at the porcelain anyways. Was courteously guided to the little boy’s room without issue; you can’t believe everything you read; amateurs, probably own a cafe up the road!

For the record, they knew not of my intended appraisal, so to treat me like royalty, but they was aware I was no regular, and still service was spot on. Also, a gorse is a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa. See? My smarty-pants phone told me that, I’m not David Bellamy but I know a gorgeous breakfast when I see one!


Floating Record Shop Moored on Kennet & Avon

Jiggin’ in thar riggin’! Ahoy vinyl-buyin’ landlubbers, a record shop has been sighted floatin’ off arh local shores ‘n be due t’ dock along th’ Kennet & Avon canal o’er th’ next few weeks, ye hath been warned!

Argh, shiver me timbers, I did say a record shop, fer Th’ Record Deck be such, jus’ as I did see it wif me very own eyes; a floatin’ record shop, argh, on a barge, o’ all thin’s. Wha’ they can nah do these days, eh?

No, I nart be ganderflankin’ yer, moi lover, these pirate purveyors o’ vinyl ‘ave cited our waterways as thar last port o’ call afore winter sets in.

Th’ Record Deck opens on dry weekends ‘n at festivals ‘n events on UK canals ‘n rivers, tradin’ in vinyl ‘n sometimes recitin’ a sea shanty or two. Tomorrow they plan t’ stop at Hungerford lock. By Sunday 11th, they’ll moor at th’ legendary Barge in HoneyStreet, ‘n will drop anchor in th’ Vizes on Friday 16th ‘n stay fer th’ weekend. Tharn it be bound fer Bradford on Avon and Bath.

‘Tis okay, I plan t’ board them at some point, ‘n hopefully see whart they be up to, or least see them ‘n thar bloomin marvellous idea off! I will report moi findings back to arh captain’s table.

Go follow thar WordPress site or like th’ Facebook page fer more details!

Will Lawton and the Alchemists’ Live Stream Album Launch

While Andy has fondly mentioned the Malmesbury combo of frontman and pianist Will Lawton and drummer Weasel Howlett a few times in the past here, I’m still yet to witness them live. Such is the restrictions of today, could be a while.

Still, both are the backbone of Will Lawton and the Alchemists, formed in 2015 when Will and Weasel started to jam, record and perform their celebrated debut album, Fossils of the Mind three years later. The sound, the band, and their following, is constantly growing and evolving. Now a four-piece with Buddy Fonzarelli on upright bass, Ami Kaelyn on guitar and vocals, and Harki Popli with tabla, they have a live stream next Sunday 11th October to launch their second album, Abbey House Session, which is available now.

This is a six-track part-studio, part-live recording which was all captured in the library at Abbey House in Malmesbury. They describe their music as “beautiful, musical daydreams, with forays into jazz with drum and bass beats.”

The show promises interviews with the band members, and kicks off at 8pm, filmed live from Pound Arts. Tickets are £5 with ALL money going to Changing Tunes, a Bristol based charity who work in prisons using music and mentoring to help people lead meaningful lives, free from crime.

Ticket link: http://livelounge.tv/show-will-lawton-and-the-alchemists…


A Thrashing Surprise, with Typhoidmary’s Death Trans

See, I like an ordinary cuppa like the next Englishman, but there’s lots of varieties of tea, some I’m impartial about, others I outright don’t like. To say it “isn’t my cup of tea” doesn’t mean it definitely tastes like shit, to others it might be the best thing they’ve drunk.

It’s far harder to review something “not my cup of tea,” then something which is. If you think my reviews have been flattery recently, you’ve strayed from the ethos; there’s been lots of timelessly brilliant music released, most agrees with me. Yet, what if it doesn’t?

The evaluation is simple; on my opinion anyone producing original music outside the safety-zone of the commercial industry deserves a medal of bravery, I make a point not to outright slag something off, rather not review it at all and provide constructive criticism directly to the creator.

First impression of the newly released debut album independent Cheltenham-based record label, Screamlite kindly sent, Typhoidmary’s “Death Trans,” was borderline. Pragmatic about the name choice; throughout her life, Mary Mallon fiercely denied she was the cause of infection, and consequently hated her nickname. Who, in their right mind, would deliberately label themselves Typhoid Mary? Perhaps that’s the point, there’s an unparalleled clandestinely dark, clinically insane tenet to this album.

This, coupled with my initial revulsion to the substantial thrashing guitars and accomplished but screeching yells which explodes within six seconds on this album, I predicted drafting a reply explaining why I wouldn’t review it. The fact I didn’t, and the review is here, means something changed my mind.

To confine my eclectic tastes to particular genres, see, gets kicked in the teeth when something defined under my few detested pigeonholes impresses me. Metal and grunge are a couple of my off-putting genres, yet when Motörhead blast the Ace Of Spades, or I catch Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit I understand their worth, and while I might draw the line at stagediving a mosh pit, I rock the fuck out! If it does what it says on the tin, points are bestowed.

Given director Chris Bowen stated, “it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year,” I decided to throw caution to the wind; it deserves a really closer listen. For its production is quality, with eminence in the delivery. What I discovered was an emotive outpouring of tension and anguish like no other, the very reason why I’m reviewing it after all.

It drifts between ambiance to these thrashing guitar executions of temper, expelling strains of interrogative quandaries, discharging a bruised wreck of an authentic character, angry and confused at their sexuality and orientation, and the relationships which develop, or fail to, from it.

While gothic outcries of depression and anxiety are not my thing, this is accomplished in a manner fiercer and more emotional than anything I could contemplate to compare it to. Be it the post-punk of Siouxsie And The Banshees, commercialised gothic of Fields of Nephilim or Bauhaus, the battering metal of Slayer of thrashing hardcore skater sound of The Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, they all pale in compassion to the appetite and antagonism displayed by Typhoidmary, and Death Trans takes anguish to a whole other level. It spat in my tea, then smashed my cup; spilt boiling fucking tea on my lap! And for that alone, I award it full credit.

With distant soundscapes separating these ten tracks of haunting annotations, resonating desperate pleas and cynical cries over driven, hard-edged gothic-come-thrash metal riffs, Death Trans is not for the fainthearted. It’s a musical equivalent of Nabokov’s Lolita or Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, in so much as it takes you to a place you’d rather not be, but intrigue suspends you there.

Typhoidmary has released this spellbinding album for streaming and on her Bandcamp page, Screamlite aims to distribute it to all major digital stores on 16th of October. Fans of such goth and grunge will be bowled over with its exquisitely dark portrayals, yet if, like me, you’re a window shopper of such shadowy and adversative genres, this might be the album which drags you inside with your purse open.

Myself, I confess, I pretended to like Robert Smith in order to get off with pale, sorrow-filled rich chicks with black hair-dye and a chip on their shoulder, which, I might add, rarely paid off! Perhaps then, the younger me is the archetypal predator this album wedges a knife into, but it drove even me on an emotional roller-coaster ride, caused me to regret, and changed my preconceived ideas about the genre. Sod it, I’m off to get my nose pierced!


Drive-In Harvest Festival!

If the words “Drive In” conjours romantic images of fifties’ American youth, waking up little Suzie before her reputation is shot, we live in a changing era where inventive ideas to celebrate will overcome the restrictions. But here, I’d wager, is one you’ve not heard of before: a drive-in harvest festival!

This Sunday, October 4th the Wellsprings Benefice, a community that worships together across the five churches of Bulkington, Potterne, Poulshot, Seend and Worton & Marston, have a drive-in harvest festival at Five Lanes Farm. Starting at 11am.

The event will also be available on Zoom, if you are unable to attend. What an ingenious idea, and we wish them all the best.

More information here: https://www.wellspringsbenefice.co.uk

DOCA’s Window Wanderland

As part of their new Winter Festival, DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Window Wonderland is a Covid-sade way to connect people, transforming streets into magical outdoor galleries.

DOCA invite anyone with a window to create a display which will become part of a programme of events over a weekend which they hope will light up Devizes. Over the weekend you will be able to pick up a map or download online.

Follow the trail of windows into Devizes Town Centre where you’ll find seasonal markets both indoors and out, selling beautiful artisan gifts, delicious food and drink, light installations and walkabout performers, a warm welcome and plenty of smiles.

TAKE PART
To take part and register your own window for this event follow the link to the Windon Wanderland website. Everyone that registers a Window will be added to our event map. You will be reminded of when to display your window and keep your light on!

Take part and register your window: https://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/

WALK THE TRAIL


You will be able to download a map from the DOCA website, the Facebook event, or pick one up from The Shambles over the weekend.

Windows will be displayed between 27th – 29th November from 5:30pm to 9pm.

Window Inspiration


Devizes is putting on a Window Wanderland and you want to take part? Wanderful! Welcome aboard.

Taking part is FREE and everyone is welcome. You can use the windows of your flat, house, business, school, nursery, car, camper van, shop…


It doesn’t even have to windows, you can also use your front door, the front of your house, your front garden…
Visit our website for ideas, FAQs and some top tips:

Devizes Window Wanderland


The Revelation Games of Phil Cooper

Crouching beside me at our IndieDay outing last month, one third of our local folk trio, The Lost Trades, Tamsin Quin explained she’s slowly working toward her second album but a lot of time is spent concentrating on progressing the Lost Trades. I supposed here is an advantage to DIY projects, as if The Lost Trades were signed to contract it’d likely be an order to focus entirely on the group.

In pop we’ve seen the pressure put on bands to collaborate equitably, and the result usually causes a split in the end. Major record companies in tough competition don’t do enough to discourage this. Note drama sells in Simon Cowell’s ‘show-me-how-easy-it-is-to-manufacture-a-pop-star’ dressed-up karaoke television show, and hear the boos as he obstinately and impassively divides a prearranged group. He sells the tears of the rejected and the tension as young friends split. You could blame Yoko Ono, if you must, but bands breaking up is, sadly, no new thing.

Hence the accord and friendship between unsigned bands is a delightful contradiction to the harsh realities of the music industry, and I sense an unequalled unity in The Lost Trades, and deep respect for each other’s solo work. Cue another third, Phil Cooper, the binding, organised element of the Lost Trades, and his new solo album, These Revelation Games due for release by Infinite Hive on 30th October. It’s great, I’d expect no less, and Phil’s fanbase too, but it’s varied content would also serve as a taster for newcomers to his repertoire.

Historically it’s been over a couple of years since he sent me his Thoughts & Observations album to review, which does what it says on the tin, largely acoustic-based annotations and judgements. But I focus on a particular night down the Southgate when Phil was accompanied by his Slight Band. Man, he was on fire, loudly and proudly rocking our legendary live music tavern with unsurpassed esteem and passion.  Make no mistake, These Revelation Games contains many a track comparable with Thoughts & Observations, they’re observational and sometimes quirkily humoured. But this new solo album takes no prisoners, and blasts its doors clean off their hinges from the off.  

Yeah, while so the opening tune, House of Mirrors explodes rock, and dare I say it, has that impact of the sixties Batman theme, it shouts the riff at you, second up Phil returns us to the mellowed aural breeze we’re more accustomed to with his recorded material. So, it’s a mixed bag of astutely written and perfectly executed songs with Phil’s joyful aura and defining style.

Eleven songs heavy, the early tunes creep us slowly back to the up-tempo as it progresses. Without a Sound particularly adroitly manages to raise that notion, and Keep Your Hands on the Wheel is a prime example of how Phil ingeniously twists metaphors of the simplest of everyday things. Leading us onto the quirkiest song, I am a Radio. Akin to Robots on the Lost Trades EP, Phil makes a heartfelt connection to an inanimate object, yet here using sound effects to create the idea his voice is operating on shortwave. It’s by far the most interesting and experimental, also absorbing his electronica work under the title BCC.

For marvellously prolific and diversified is our Phil, performing as solo, as The Slight Band, his electronica side-project, or what it’s now concentrated on, the outstanding folk harmonies of The Lost Trades with Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin, Phil never slacks off or confines himself to one sound. “I wasn’t planning a new album this year,” Phil expressed, “but then, all plans for 2020 went out the window six months ago. So, I spent my time in lockdown writing and recording a whole load of songs that explored influences I’ve never explored before.” Therefore, as a solo album, bought about by lockdown, don’t expect it to remain in one place.

It rocks without reference to this folk avenue, for sure, but stretches to every corner of rock. There are surprisingly heavy guitar riffs. Fervent ballads like the particularly adroit Into the Void, whisking Lennon-like. And there’s ardent electric blues, Changing Times perhaps best example of the latter. It polishes the experience off with a Clapton-fashioned smooth blues finale called The Horseman Rides Tonight.

With a plethora of new music being produced, lockdown it seems did have one benefit, and These Revelation Games in a varied taster of a concentrated Phil Cooper at his peak. I look forward to the progression of the Lost Trades, but love this aforementioned freedom to produce solo work too. I mentioned my chat with Tamsin to Phil, about the time and effort dedicated to the Lost Trades, but the joy of the flexibility of freely venturing off to work solo, thoroughly supported by the other members of the trio. “You’re far from the band in the Commitments film,” I noted!

“Yeah,” Phil responded, “having a record label release it has helped keep the balance between solo and Lost Trades stuff. The Lost Trades has always been built on mutual respect for each other’s work, so we’ll always support each other.” Which kinda wraps it up aptly, the ethos of the trio is like this album, nice. Nice one Phil, nice one, son!

Details on Phil Cooper and These Revelation Games, here.


113 Mile walk to London To Help Free Angel & Maya

We’ve covered Tanya Borg’s ongoing campaign in the past, now she is taking a 113-mile walk to London. For five, long, earth-shattering years, Tanya Borg has fought in vain to be reunited with her beautiful daughters Angel and Maya. Maya will be turning 9 on the 24th October, the 5th birthday without celebrating, seeing or speaking to her Mother.

In 2015, Angel, then 15, and Maya, then 3, were snatched by their father under the guise of a short holiday to Tunisia to see their grandmother. Instead, they were whisked across the border to Libya and have been held against their will and away from their mother, friends and family.

Despite judges in both the UK and Libya granting in Tanya’s favour and their father jailed for non-compliance of court orders in the UK, the girls’ grandmother has kept them secretly locked away, with Tanya not even having spoken to ‘her babies’ for over a year.

With the British Embassy in Libya closing in 2015, Tanya has been given no assistance in her plight from the UK Government. Police have refused to reopen the case, meaning Interpol are not involved.

On 23rd October, 2020, Tanya will be setting off on foot from her home in Wiltshire to walk 113 miles – across five days – to 10 Downing Street in London, to help raise awareness of her fight – and deliver a petition asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson for political assistance. In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown intervened in a similar case, speaking personally to Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi to help reunite six-year-old Nadia Fawzi with mother Sarah Taylor after her abduction by her father.

Although now a different political sphere, Tanya and her family are imploring Boris Johnson – a new father himself – to similarly intervene and attempt to help them, also. Please, if you can, support Tanya’s walk and Go Fund Me Appeal. All donations will be spent locating her daughters’ whereabouts in Libya and on solicitor fees, in her attempts to finally bring Angel and Maya home.


Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports

Rapping with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs, about new rules, the possible return of hunting, and their battle against badger culls….

After a rant in the week, concerning Danny Kruger’s either forgetful or mediocre disregard to the facemask rule extended to an all-purpose bleat questioning the true motives of many of these everchanging Covid19 regulations, I bought up this exemption for hunting and shooting wildlife from the rule of six. For seems to me to be symbolic of this notion they’re using Covid19 as an excuse to return us to an era of yore; tally ho! Let’s go butchering innocent wildlife again what what.

Exemption depends solely on Boris’s personal preference, and he loves to shoot a grouse or three.

With the Mendip Hunt Sabs reporting a demonstrator was seriously assaulted just yesterday, when rocks were thrown at vehicles, surely, it’s advisable campaigning against cruel sports is best done by safety in numbers. Ergo, the rule of six makes protesting the hunting either illegal or risky for the individual, so I contacted Wiltshire Hunt Sabs and we had a nice chat. They agreed; “along the lines of exempting hunts from illegally gathering, so they can carry on illegally hunting,” they replied. “So, effectively turning the law banning hunting on its head. Which is what the conservatives have wanted for ages.” Bingo.

It took a few days to touch base with the sabs, as it’s badger culling season, and they were out. They excused my ignorance on the matter, explaining while grouse shooting is the news, it doesn’t happen in Wiltshire. “Grouse shooting normally happens on moors, they shoot red grouse,” they told me, “grouse aren’t reared, they live on moorlands. Loads of pheasant shoots around here, though.  Pheasants are bred and reared for purpose.”

But pheasant doesn’t cause agriculture a problem, I’m going to find an angle on this tricky disco, as they shoot them for food, and I’m far from vegan; love a bacon butty, me! “With pheasants,” they explained, “despite what they claim, huge swathes of them end up in stink pits, they kill far more than they can possibly eat. I’ve seen one with my own eyes.”

Yep, my suspicions check out; bloodthirsty carnage dressed up as an obligatory pageant, the lot of it. Still, I’m in the dark about the Hunt Sabs’ priorities, and how they go about their operations. The concentration of our chat centred on the badger cull, a practise which can be avoided if funds were available for vaccination; like yeah, magic money tree you might cry. The Wildlife Trust reports the tax payer coughed up £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers between 2012 and 2014, equating to £6,785 per badger. By contrast, in the same time period, vaccination would cost just £293 per badger.

It also goes onto say cattle-to-cattle transmission remains the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB in cattle, and culling badgers’ risks making the problem even worse. “The Government has undermined the scientific credibility of its own research,” the Wildlife Trust explain, “by repeatedly changing targets and methods. As a result, no definitive scientific conclusions can be drawn from the pilot culls, as the scientific evidence used to justify them is highly selective.” The badger cull does not have the support of scientists, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) or the public; so how to go about protecting our wildlife?

“The cull is licenced by Natural England,” the Sabs tell me. “The licences last four years, although they are only authorised to shoot between certain dates; usually a 6-8-week period which begins in September. There are groups who protest and groups who take direct action.  Obviously as sabs we take direct action, but will also undertake other forms of protest too.”

And the direct action is to what, get in their way or disrupt the shoot, I asked. “Well usually it involves looking for cages as well,” they enlighten me, “there are people who deal with them.  Shooters can be dealt with by protestors too, simply being present on a footpath in a field they intend shooting in is enough to stop them.”

I plead they excuse my ignorance, not knowing they used traps. It must piss the cullers off, protesters wandering the footpath. I wondered if they ever get violent as we’ve seen the fox hunters do. “Not really,” came the reply, “they are generally better behaved because they have firearms.  Any aggressive behaviour on their part would lose them their licence.” Being the only justifiable reason for killing a badger, I can see, is a trigger-happy obsession akin to a redneck with a Biden supporter on his dude ranch, I can see taking away their toys might be a preventative. Unless of course, you can rationalise otherwise, given the Wildlife Trust’s evidence?

Technically then, with a badger cull here in relative placate Wiltshire, the good news is, at least, they don’t need “safety in numbers” and could abide by the rule of six. “We usually work in twos or threes as we can get more ground covered,” the Sabs say.

How can people help? You could buy Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs a coffee, see here. But what if you found a cage on a walk? Should you damage it, or take it home to trash? The sabs advise against this. “I personally wouldn’t recommend just asking people to trash cages,” they instruct. “They aren’t easy to trash, and it’s a criminal offence. Better that people contact the page if they find one and take a 10-figure grid reference or what3words.”

Badgers are nocturnal, like me; they’re my work buddies. Traps, I cry, lightweights. If it is a sport, as they claim, it should therefore be a fair challenge and they should drag their malicious and over-privileged arses out of their beds in the wee hours to chase them, rather than have a pop at them during their bedtime. That’s like the ref allowing Arsenal to wait for Tottenham to get back on their coach before aiming for top bins!

Save badger culls though, wildlife protectors still have the legal upper hand, and police will attend and arrest those flouting the law. Wiltshire Police made an arrest during an operation into bird of prey persecution in Beckhampton and Pewsey on Wednesday, for example. PC Marc Jackson of Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said, “following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards. The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities. Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward. We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations.”

While it might not look good for Natural England’s preposterous project to reintroduce hen harriers to southern England, the struggle to uphold our preservation and protection for wildlife against a government which appears to warrant a return of fox hunting and blood sports sadly continues. And if other’s concern for animal welfare enrages you enough to throw your toys out of the pram, sadly social distancing measures will follow.


Daydream Runaways and their Crazy Stupid Love

There’s no fooling me, no quixotic baseball-wielding delinquent is going to sway me in giving my honest opinion on Daydream Runaway’s forthcoming single; it’s just a drawing, guys!

It might well be coming a cliché on Devizine, that Daydream Runaways send me over their latest single, tell me they think it’s their best yet, I agree and tell you it’s their best single yet. But I’m at a stalemate, because I’m likely to say once again, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet, for the simple reason, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet!

Ah, sure sign of natural progression from a young band always striving to improve, Crazy Stupid Love is out on Friday 2nd October on streaming platforms and it will be the first single from their upcoming EP. Given this strength of this song, and inclining it’ll have a running narrative, I’m highly anticipating the EP, with bells on. Meanwhile I have to concoct some words on why I think it’s their best single yet, rather than just repeating the same sentence. Well, technically I don’t have to, but I will because I want to.

Image by Van

I wouldn’t have to if you could hear what I’m hearing, that’s the fluky bit about doing this. While it’s not always this seamless; I occasionally receive tunes which make me shudder, though delight when these guys message me as I can guarantee it’ll be a non-shudder experience.

So, if I called their second single Fairy Tale Scene, “catchy melody, pop-tastically, with slight eighties, pre-indie label overtones,” Closing the Line as “a progressive step into local topical subject matter. An emotive and illustrative indie rock track akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting,” and I said Gravity, “pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division,” then Crazy Stupid Love is the counterbalance, calibrating the best elements of their previous singles and weighing them equally. In this feat, it defines a forming style, a signature, I reckon, in which to base future releases.

Image by Van

Inspired by characters in a hit Hollywood film of the same name, which I’ve not seen, the guys claim “the song is set to be the sound of a Post-Lockdown world.” I hope so, but it fondly reminds me of a time of yore, pre-nineties indie and Britpop, back to the days of Simple Minds and U2; no bad thing. For, just like the moment Judd Nelson sticks Molly Ringwald’s earing in his lughole, these bands were beguiling, memorable and emotive. Crazy Stupid Love is like them, infectiously uplifting, and with a coming-of-age narrative, articulating moods of a youthful, verboten romance, it suits.

Surprisingly dicey too, it also creates a mysterious character within the narrative, namely Chad, intended to market the single with a hashtag #whoischad. We can’t see his mug on the cover, but the likelihood it’s Brad’s alter-ego, just because he rhymes with Chad and he’s wearing the same baseball jacket in the accompanying photoshoot is slight. With a penchant for fireworks he carries a baseball bat to a fairground, and anyone who does such is surely asking for trouble. But, I dunno, Brad just doesn’t seem the type!

Image by Van

This self-produced nostalgic nugget has those swirling harmonies, chiming guitars and an infectious chorus hook, to compare it to those eighties greats. But akin to what Talk in Code are putting out, it retains the modernism and freshness, acting as a nod to influences rather than a tribute.

In mentioning this to the Talkers they hadn’t heard of Daydream Runaways, but now I’m pleased to hear they’re supporting Talk in Code for an exclusive gig at Swindon’s Vic in November. Did I connect this, guys? Because if so, it makes me proud, sound wise I believe it’s a perfect match. Though BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davis also has taken a big shining to the Runaways, asking them back on the 3rd October. Just, you dark horse, you, leave the baseball bat at home, Brad, I mean Chad. In my experience the Beeb pay for your parking if you ask, so no need to get nasty. Tut, always the quiet ones!

Super single, guys and look forward to catching up with you soon.


Atmospheric Country Goodness Fits Kirsty’s Shoes.

Subscribe on YouTube to local independent country, singer-songwriter Kirsty Clinch and you’ll receive a selection of wonderful pop-driven covers with a country feel, lots of chat videos where she explains her thought processes and announces news, provides advise and even beauty tips. Catch Kirsty live and she’s unplugged, expressing the same dedication to her music but as an acoustic performer. Either way, she is a pleasure to hear, a smooth silky voice and accomplished guitarist.

It is also the very reason I’ve been in anticipation of this debut single, to hear which way Kirsty will take it, lean more on her matured live acoustic sets, perhaps, or the pop-inspired subtlety of her videos. I’m pleased to say, Fit the Shoe balances both equally. Though far from bubble-gum, it uses a sublime bassline behind her country guitar-picking to create a wonderful and emotive sound. This is contemporary country, combining pop’s ambient-influence of William Orbit and blending it with the vocal range and narrative of classic Dolly Parton, enough to make Madonna blush.

Yet there’s another side to Kirsty, a fervently astute entrepreneur with clear direction on how to market a vocation through projecting the perfect appeal and disposition. Yet none of these reasons, I suspect are the sole reason why Fit the Shoe, is shooting up the streaming sites after being released only today, rather an amalgamation of them all, but mostly, because it’s gorgeous and immediately lovable.

Our fiery redhead instinctively knows where the goal is, shoots and next thing you know the net is pulsating with the shock. “My main goal is to touch the hearts of many though my art and spread awareness that a positive attitude leads to better paths,” she explains. “I already achieved my first goal by travelling and performing in Nashville at venues such as the BlueBird.” Nashville is something Kirsty regularly brings into conversation, who wouldn’t. But it’s here, in collaboration with Peter Lamb, providing bass and mastering, in the atmospheric splendour of this single that we see a true star shining.  

“As an independent artist,” Kirsty Clinch speaks her motivation, “you must have 100% faith in yourself and your worth, you must work hard to gain all your goals and dreams you desire and I have a lot of energy to still give to the world, so I’m going hard or I’m going home.”

Stick this on your playlist and freeze in awe.

Man on the Bridge: Erin Bardwell teams up with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton

Local reggae a rarity around these backwaters, but when it does rise you can trust Pop-A-Top Records is a watermark of quality. Since prolific Swindon Skanxter keyboardist, Erin Bardwell’s amazing solo album, Interval, he’s rubbed his unique style into a collaboration with Hotknives co-founder, Dave Clifton on this sublime project called The Man on the Bridge.

A double-A EP was out in April, followed this week by a six-track album A Million Miles. There are chilled echoes of rocksteady and traditional boss reggae blended with slight roots and dressed with a garnish of Bardwell’s inimitable take on the genre. Naturally, there’s a splinter of Two-Tone reggae too, which works on so many levels.

Dave Clifton

The Hotknives are best known for their live albums, but did release one studio album The Way Things Are. Formed in Horsham, back in 1982, they principally play ska. Guitarist Dave Clifton was among the original line-up. He left in 1993, but with a slimmer roster the band still perform today.

Opening tune to A Million Miles, Don’t Blame Me, is immediately likeable rocksteady, and wouldn’t look out of place on a classic Trojan Tighten Up compilation. Looking over the Land plods securely, resonances Erin’s band the Erin Bardwell Collective and is just simply beguiling.

Erin Bardwell

Just Dreaming though dubs, is as at sounds, dreamy, using flute, by another ex-Hotknives, Paul Mumford of Too Many Crooks, it connotes that eastern dub vibe of Augustus Pablo. Yet with Believe we return to chugging boss, with sublime horns, also by Mumford, and Dave’s picking guitar riff. The guest vocal is a refreshing change, provided by Pat Powell of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. Proof, as I’ve said, ska is an international thing, and the Melbourne Ska Orchestra are pushing boundaries on the other side of the world.

Title track, A Million Miles again deviates, fusing a slight English folk influence, it reflects memories and cites Dave and Ansell Collins and the O’Jays in a theme of a lost romance. Never Say Never raps up the journey you don’t want to end, with a plonking fairground twist; as if Madness worked with UB40. With Erin’s dream team, Drummer Pete O’Driscoll, Pete Fitzsimmons on bass, except Looking Over The Land where long term friend from The Skanxters, Vinny Hill features, we’re in capable hands, and this is a memorable collaboration producing a superb and varied mellow reggae vibe. You need this right now!


Ros Hewitt’s Glass Art Open Studio

Stained glass and mixed-media artist, Ros Hewitt takes stained glass to contemporary levels. Using fused and sandblasted glass techniques, her designs are refreshingly modern and graphically stunning. She opens her studio in Great Bedwyn on Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th October. 11am-5pm.

Working as a graphic designer in the field of scientific illustration, it was a quirk of fate which embarked Ros on a new artistic career in stained glass, initially while living in Sydney, Australia. On returning to the UK, she took a course in traditional stained-glass painting with Paul San Casciani, (author of The Technique of Traditional Stained Glass) in Oxford.

Ros has been using her lockdown time experimenting with capturing air bubbles within glass, and reflecting on her residence in Wiltshire, she has a new collection of bestselling Wessex White Horses, painted and fired onto glass.

There’s also a collection of acrylic paintings of local bird life, something that has long been a favourite subject; professional scientific illustrator graduate, see? As I said! Yes, I did!

Might be the perfect opportunity to buy some lovely, local, artisan gifts for Christmas, they really are quite special. No appointment is necessary to see the artists’ work, and you can meet Ros, discuss techniques, equipment and discover her inspiration.

Due to Covid-19, all visitors are required to use anti-bac gel provided, wear a mask, and enter the small studio one at a time. Parents/guardians can enter with their children. For details:  http://ros.glass/index.html Email: ros@ros.glass Phone: 01672 871 025. Location: Ros Hewitt Glass Studio, Great Bedwyn, SN8 3LT


Crusader Vouchers to the Rescue!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, just shopping I’m afraid, but a marvellous idea to help small businesses locally!

With a striking superhero comic-book themed corporate identity, a small group of marketing agents from Westbury have donned cloaks and set up a voucher system in support of our local high streets.

Claire Rowlands runs Fundraising in the Community, a local company dedicated to supporting businesses in Wiltshire, whilst helping schools, groups, charities and organisations raise funds. They plan to launch Crusader Vouchers as a subsidiary to FITC Media. As it sounds, it’s a voucher-based concept akin to the website Groupon, but for local small businesses, the ones hit hardest by the lockdown.

Fundraising in the Community is a quality, professional service that offers a unique platform with a tailored audience to help drive prospective new business through the doors of local companies; whilst helping schools, charities, clubs and organisations within the community fundraise for their good causes.

Their voucher idea launches this October, and asks you to “put on your mask, grab your vouchers, support local businesses and bag yourself the best deals in town!” They have a website, but the majority of action is via Facebook, so like their page, where you’ll be able to access monthly vouchers for independent shops and small businesses throughout the South West.

These crusaders of independent shopping say, “the offers that we provide are free for everyone to enjoy, no catches, just straight forward vouchers to take advantage of each month for local small businesses and independent businesses. Due to Covid-19 our businesses need us more than ever so we’re appealing to you to put your mask on, grab your vouchers, buy local and bag yourself the best deals in town!”

Since the successful IndieDay in Devizes, I’ve noticed many similar schemes in local towns but here’s something truly original but like any new scheme, it’ll only work if people get behind it. So please do, everyone loves a voucher!


The Ladies Shout as I go by, oh Danny, Where’s Your Facemask?!

On the day the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance predicts 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October in the UK, leading to over 200 deaths per day a month after, still the rules are being flouted, and we shamelessly play the blame game, because we’re encouraged to grass up our friends and neighbours by a government who aren’t playing by the rules themselves.

Two days into the facemask covering law, my eagerness to grab some Derick’s Deals saw me headlong into the Spar shop without a facemask, I confess. We’ve now had two months to get used to it, and for me, like all of us, it’s become routine, a habit. It is also, because not wearing one in indoor public places meets a £100 fine. A fine Danny Kruger needs cough up, if a local university student whose party got uncontrollably out of hand faces a £10,000 fine.  

Oops a daisy, and other timid posh-boy idioms for I’m pretending to care, our local MP was pictured on the train without his mask. For the entire London to Hungerford journey it didn’t cross his mind, bless. Because, as he explained, he forgot, the train carriage was empty. Obviously not empty enough for someone to snap a photo, though, to which his reaction, according to Wiltshire 999’s was, “If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media, I would of course have put on my mask then and there. I do apologise for my mistake.”

He said this, in a country with standards and decorum so high most are uncomfortable pointing out minor transgressions, like not wearing a facemask, in case the perpetrator is exempt. They may be suffering a medical condition or severe anxiety, and be subject to enough harassment from so-called do-gooders. Last time I did bag me some Derick’s Deals there was a facemask dissident in the shop, did I growl at them? No, I have basic manners.   

He said this, working for, as I said, a government who encourage us to report such misdoings, precisely what the photographer did. It’s not under the control of the photographer if a social media witch hunt ensues.  

Predictably, Priti Patel said she’d dog in her neighbours, as if living next door to the home secretary wouldn’t be traumatic enough. Boris waffled, as he does, something about only grassing if it’s an “animal house,” party complete with a hot tub. Uncertainly looms if he referred to the National Lampoons movie, or animals really need to be present at the party. If so, this leaves David Cameron’s idea of fun questionable, if he was still around of course.

Oh, but he is, magically popping up like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn this week to tell us all his forbidding austerity cuts prepared the UK for the pandemic, despite we were the single most unprepared nation in the developed world, and are consequently reaping what we sowed. Just what the NHS needed, cuts, keeps the staff on their toes, doesn’t it? The ones still alive that is.

What an absolute crock-of-shit, of which, unfortunately, Danny Kruger’s blatant flouting of the regulations is trivial, but relevant to the undeniable feeling building in this country, that it’s one rule for them and another for us. Given Danny’s last newsletter to his constituents reads, “I detest the rule of six, the compulsory facemasks, the Covid marshals and the snooping on your neighbours (not that we’re doing that in Wiltshire, I’m glad to say,” it doesn’t look as if wearing his mask is top priority for him, which is a shame, I bet he’s got a really fancy one.

Though I suspect the issue will fall into the archives after the social media assault mellows. He’s conservative, so every conservative will defend him, and those not will sneer. We make political point scoring out of a deadly pandemic, then wonder why we’re suffering the worst.     

I’ll confess, I found myself disagreeing with left-wing rags, painting a picture of a stressed and exhausted Prime Minister, forecasting the end of both his teether and reign. Aching to show him in a bad light, selective photography; the guy had more getaways than Judith Chalmers, missing vital Cobra meetings about an impending pandemic. Having financial difficulties, now he is; Earth calling Boris.

Do you ever get the uneasy feeling our Prime Minister is rubbing his hands together behind closed doors, sniggering like an insane Bond villain? Logical steps are indisputable; it’s unavoidable if we ease restrictions, more cases will occur. Yet daily it feels more like an ingenious trap. Conservatives crave traditionalism, whether the public feel rudiments maybe outdated, oppressive and intolerant or not.

A Matrix red pill revelation, are they using the pandemic to maintain control, make their prejudicial vision a reality, Morpheus, and as an excuse when it goes economically tits up on their watch? The tranquillity of the initial lockdown trashed as they encourage us to shop our neighbours, because that’s how their own backstabbing agenda functions. Face facts, it’s up the swanny because day-to-day they move the goalposts and confuse all, abuse their own loopholes and encourage every cluster of the public to blame another while nipping out for a Nandos. Ha, there was me thinking the buck stopped at the top.

Hancock’s Half Hour has never been so dreary, as the health secretary blathers “follow Covid rules or they will get tougher.” Surely a case of do as we say and not as we do?

Clamping down on the reappearance of illegal gatherings; they’ve craved this since illegal gathering begun, yet freedom to jet around the world is fine and dandy. Pubs shut early, like the good ol’ days, because drinking at 10pm rather than 11 makes a massive difference. Places of worship get special attention, unless you’re a pagan. Then consider this exemption for hunting and shooting wildlife from the rule of six regulation, symbolic of this notion they’re using Covid19 as an excuse to return us to an era of yore, tally ho. Exemption depends solely on Boris’s personal preference. 

If you want your hobby or interest exempt from the rule of six, be like Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross and slip Boris £15,000 for a winter break in the Caribbean. Or is it coincidence the guy owns two grouse moor estates? This bothers me, enough to warrant contacting our local hunt sab group. What did they say? That’s for next time, folks, stay tuned; I’ve waffled enough over something trivial; politician is a stressful occupation, I wouldn’t want it. Forgiveness is a virtue; apology accepted, Danny, get your wallet out and let’s move on with the next inconsistent contradiction from our leaders.


Emma Langford Sowing Acorns

If I’m majorly disappointed by all the planned events and gigs this year done gone cancelled, probably the biggest of all was when I badgered Devizes Arts Festival into booking Limerick’s folk singer-songwriter Emma Langford. It didn’t take much convincing, just a song or two, and if you hear her new album Sowing Acorns, released yesterday, I guarantee your arm will be twisted too.

Sowing Acorns is everything I’d expect and much more. A spellbinding composition of intelligent lyrics reflecting on past, a place or observation, Emma’s mellifluous vocals and enchanting folk melodies. A magnum opus for this award-winning emerging artist who I’ve followed the progress of for many years.

It’s an album which will transport you to an Irish coastal path, a gentle zephyr as you peer out to the ocean. Port Na bPúcaí perhaps the prime example, with its chilling cello merging into the drifting poetic title track. It’s a whisk of untamed Andrea Corr blending Clannad to Mari Boine, yet somehow completely inimitable. Yet there’s astute honesty within these pieces of musical jigsaw, tales of family woe or enriching scrutiny of a lifecycle. There’s enough going on here to pull to pieces and discover alternative angles with each listen, but allowing it to drift over you is recommended, like waves upon said ocean.

But while Sowing Acorns opens acapella and drifts into traditional acoustic folk, it doesn’t rest, rather merges styles, and by the time you get to Ready Oh some nine tracks in, there’s a blithe soul pop feel, teetering do-wop, similarly the Latino marketable feel of Goodbye Hawaii. Towards the end it returns to the thoughtful prose of Emma’s sublime acoustic and feelgood Irish charm, and it ends with an ambient trance remix of the title track by Avro Party. But each and every segment, every journey this album takes you on, darker or uplifting, is expressively awe-inspiring, as if Emma pushed everything she has into this release; the definitive Emma Langford.

It is, in a word, utterly gorgeous, a definite contender for album of my year, and one I’ll be submerged in its mesmerising portrayals for a long time yet.

Click to download from Bandcamp

Hew Miller; Does Something!

When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.

Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”

None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?

“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.

Hew Miller

Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.

“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.

“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”

Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley.  “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”

“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”

On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.

“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!

Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”

True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.


Blank Pages of an Atari Pilot

This extensive belter of eighties-fashioned high-fidelity pop waits for no man, a sonic blast opens it, and the riff wouldn’t sound alien appearing in a John Hughes coming-of-age eighties movie. Visualise Jud, Molly, Emilio et all, dancing around a school library to this latest track from Swindon’s Atari Pilot.

After our glorious appraisal of their previous single Right Crew, Wrong Captain in July, they reckon I’m going to be fair on them again, but really, there’s nothing to dislike about Blank Pages. A review in which they quoted me suggesting, “this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie.” Here though, save the strong bassline, the space-rock element is lessened and retrospective synth-pop chimes in a racing beat, twisting this into a real grower on the ears.

Press release aptly cites “everything from Springsteen to Daft punk, Kathleen Edwards to Love,” as influences. As if Daft Punk would work with Springsteen, but if they did, I’d imagine something rather like this. And that alone, makes for an interesting sound, again akin to what Talk in Code are putting out locally, perhaps more so for this single. While we could hinge on an inglorious comeback from an eighties pop star and be thoroughly disappointed by their timeworn platitude and fame induced narcissistic attitude, nostalgia has never been so energetic and fresh when it’s channelled as an influence rather than comeback or tacky tribute act.

There’s a backstory about Atari Pilot, I may have mentioned before but worth reminding. After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle for Onze. But getting a second chance at life gave him the inspiration to get back to writing, and Atari Pilot reformed in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. Reforming the band was actually planned from his hospital bed.

With this in mind, Onze describes the thinking behind this great song, “Blank Pages, like the other songs for the struggle, were inspired by being diagnosed with and recovering from cancer. The songs reflect the highs and lows of life and the struggles we are faced with and have to overcome to reach where we want to be.”

There’s a heartening theme of struggle in the face of change, “it’s also about trying to recognise that we can’t escape ourselves, and asks whether we can use our history and baggage to fire a brighter future,” Onze explains.

It’s a DIY production, recorded and mixed in Onze’s home studio by using Logic Pro X, but sounds stunningly professional. Atari Pilot are Onze (vox,) Paj (bass,) Frosty (guitar) and drummer Andy, and we look forward to hearing more from them. I even managed to review this one without mentioning retro-gaming:


The Bighead!

“The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies….”

Far from what the name suggests, and common generalisation of the genre, I found Northampton’s six-piece reggae/ska band, The Bighead, not in the slightest egotistical and very approachable! Thus, I’ll be spinning their tunes on Ska-ing West Country on Friday, and for the foreseeable future.

That said in this era where a plethora of bands like the Dualers and Death of Guitar Pop have breathed renewed energy and a fresh approach to the UK two-tone scene, which otherwise risked falling into a diehard cult of seniors on Lambrettas who spent their pension on a pair of cherry Doc Martins!

Though nothing with Bighead is as the frenzied ska blended with delinquent-filled punk of yore. They tend to flow maturely, with rocksteady and roots reggae, while attire the fashion akin to the two-tone era. I’ve no issue there, through the furious ska thrashings of The Specials, the downtempo Ghost Town is likely cited foremostly, and on the island of origination, the short rocksteady age between ska and reggae was undoubtedly the most creative musical period in Jamaican history.

Seems while previous decades hugged youth cultures which devoted to a sole variety of Jamaican music, newly formed bands, like Bighead in 2008 by Da Costa, follow a similar ethos as what we discussed when Trevor Evans’ Barbdwire came to Devizes Arts Festival. They select the benefits and choosiest elements of ska, rocksteady and all subgenres of reggae, and fuse them with sublime results.

There’s a plentiful gap to fill, and it’s all trilbies and shades for Bighead. Their May single, The Truth is Hard to Find celebrates their unique but retrospective style with a passion for pop-reggae, an uplifting beat, chugging ska riff and beguiling two-tone vocal harmonies, signifying an optimistic new era for the old genre. In contrast, the other two brilliant tunes Da Costa kindly emailed me, Step Up and Try Me Again, rely on roots reggae and doo-wop rocksteady respectively.

The Bighead are no strangers to the festival and club circuit, have headlined and supported original 2-Tone acts such as the Beat, The Selector, Bad Manners and a 2013 show with Madness. They’ve played over Europe and are regulars on the Berlin Reggae scene.

So, polish your boots, snap on your braces and follow Bighead; not that I should really be flattering a band who are already self-confessed big heads!


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Tune in Friday nights from 10pm till midnight; some nutters gave me a radio show!

The Return of the Wharf Theatre

Word on the towpath is our wonderful theatre, the only theatre in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre is preparing for curtains up in October, starting with an amateur production of My Mother Said I Never Should.

Since being forced to close in March the team have been working tirelessly to keep East Wiltshire’s best loved and only theatre afloat. There was a time, in June, when the future looked rather bleak for the little theatre. After the renovation three years ago, surplus funds were already low, then lockdown happened. The Gazette reported it may have to close due to a £30,000 shortfall in income. Celebrity patron Christopher Biggins praised and promoted a campaign, at the time they hoped to reopen for 2021. So good news is, we’re some months earlier you can enjoy the Wharf productions once again.

While it’s great news for entertainment in town, be aware and be quick to book. Only thirty tickets are available for each performance, in line with current guidelines. They can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

Last years’ Chair, Oli Beech says: “Break out the bottles, the phoenix of theatre does rise from the ashes and soars high above Devizes! Our dear little theatre is back in the black after a close encounter with disaster! The call went out and boy, was it answered. We’ve had donations pouring in, generous members and locals passing the hats around, bake sale proceeds, even an overwhelming donation of £10,000. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us either financially or with their many words of support and encouragement….”

During their enforced closure the team hosted three costume sales to raise further funds; completely updated their website and launched a YouTube channel to keep people entertained with specially filmed monologues and some short behind the scene films.

The Wharf also welcome a new Artistic Director, Debby Wilkinson. “Restrictions are beginning to lift but with social distancing still very much in place,” Debby said, “anything we do in the theatre itself will be limited. However, we are very proud to launch the first three plays of our Autumn/Winter season.”

Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details. But I’m happy to announce the new performances will be:

My Mother Said I Never Should

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2020 7.30pm each evening

Written by Charlotte Keatley and Directed by Debby Wilkinson       

This rehearsed reading is scheduled to run on October 16th and 17th.   First performed in 1987, this play breaks with convention in that it doesn’t follow a linear timeline.  The text is now studied for both GCSE and A level and tells the stories of four women throughout several periods of their lives. It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters along the themes of independence and secrets. It is a poignant bittersweet story of love, jealousy and the price of freedom through the immense social changes of the 20th century.                   Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk


 Tickets: £10/£8 concessions.

Adam and the Gurglewink

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November

7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

Written and Directed by Helen Langford

Three rehearsed readings of an original play by the Wharf’s own Helen Langford.   Adam is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic.  They form a reluctant friendship where reality blurs and magic happen. They meet Rainbowgirl who challenges Adam to a dangerous quest which will depend on his ability to keep going when things are not always what they seem.

Suitable for children 6-12 years and their parents. Tickets:/ £8/£6 concessions


Collected Grimm Tales

Monday 14th to Saturday 19th December       7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

By: The Brothers Grimm     Directed by: Debby Wilkinson

Familiar and lesser known stories are brought to the stage using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  These stories journey into the warped world of imagination.  We will meet Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, performed by a small adult cast, on a simple set.  The audience will need to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for children and adults.

Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. On behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk  Adaptor Carol Ann Duffy Dramatised by Tim Supple and the Young Vic Co.  Tickets: £14/£12 concessions

The Scribes: Totem Trilogy

Getting snowed under here at Devizine Towers, but speedily need to push this to top priority, ahead of tonight’s (Saturday 12th) gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate from Bristol hip hop outfit, The Scribes. I whopped up a quick preview of the event, but as I pressed publish an email popped up with their latest EP The Totem Trilogy Part 1, made in collaboration with Chicago raised producer Astro Snare. Should fans of UK hip hop hear it, they’d be planning to head to the Gate for this free gig, by hook or by crook.

The Scribes are a multi-award-winning hip hop three piece based in Bristol consisting of lyricist/multi-instrumentalist Ill Literate, rapper Jonny Steele and beatboxer Maestro Lacey. In 2013 they signed with US label Kamikazi Airlines, co-owned by Dizzy Dustin of legendary hip hop act Ugly Duckling and released two albums, The Sky Is Falling and The Scribes Present Ill Literature worldwide to critical acclaim, garnering the group a sponsorship deal with ethical clothing company THTC, alongside artists such as Ed Sheeran and Foreign Beggars.

By 2016 they had signed with Reel Me Records, releasing a sonically challenging 16-track album which thrived on a perfected blend of poignant lyricism, A Story All About How, and the apocalyptic concept album, Mr Teatime & The End Of The World, winner of the UndergroundHH.com “Concept Album of The Year” award. Last year The Scribes received global recognition, upon releasing Quill Equipped Villainy, featuring Akil the MC from Jurassic 5, TrueMendous and Leon Rhymes from Too Many T’s.

My personal affection for the genre though, goes back to the old skool. Prepped by Kraftwerk’s influence on eighties electronica, rolled with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte’s production on Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, and still nothing equipped me for the eureka moment I first heard Afrika Bambaataa’s Planet Rock, on a journey to Asda in my Dad’s Cortina! Only lingering in the underground less than a year, the US hip hop and breakdancing movement swept the UK, and it was inevitable we’d develop our own brand.

As hip hop spread through the States it distorted to hackneyed fashion far from the original blithe ethos of revelry. Pretentious bling, hoes and pimping one’s ride, and of course gangland rivalry were never on the original agenda. While some during the later eighties, like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, strived away from this tenet, recapturing hippy, carefree roots, the east-coast/west coast rivalry and vehement bravura dominated and hallmarked the modern preconception of hip hop.

Meanwhile, by a method akin to rock n roll some twenty years prior, the place to hunt for creative and innovative progression of the genre was neither east nor west coast, but here in the UK.

Because hip hop was never supposed to be uniform, shaped by urban multiculturism it’s naturally a melting-pot of genres and an experimentation in fusion, always has been. Given Caribbean roots and common affection for reggae, it’s inevitable those influences would have a profound effect on UK hip hop.

Full-circle in actual fact, considering pioneer of the genre, Kool Herc was a young Jamaican NY immigrant with a sound system, who altered from dub to disco and funk as residents didn’t favour reggae. And, in a nutshell, and to wrap up my waffling, that’s precisely why I love this EP; it’s like The Scribes dipped a colander into said melting pot, and extracted only the very best ingredients.

It’s a non-commercial, bundle of heavy beats not relying on a single subgenre. Opening with I’m Back, for example, fresh, dripping with early east coast scratching and rapping. Yet Mighty Mighty follows, leaning on dub akin to Roots Manuva with brass, subs and a contemporary dogmatic theme comparable to Silent Eclipse, albeit this was divergent towards John Major’s government (apologies for my archaic comparisons, it’s an age thing!)

By the third tune we’re back to nonchalant fun with Rock This; I’m in awe, this is lyrically composed with a witty genius parallel to the Fu-Schnickens. Heart Breaks though swaps back to east coast; sublime rap harmony with a R&B slant, pensive piano chops and soaring strings with a definitive Bristol angle, as if a Tribe Called Quest came out of St Pauls!

Keep Bouncing ends the ride, and I’m left pondering Dizzee Rascal’s influence, yet tougher, as Rodney P, this is fresh, possibly the most marketable sound given today’s impact on the scene. The Totem Trilogy Part 1 is the first of a 3 EP series featuring the stunning artwork of renowned illustrator Chris Malbon. The absolutely gorgeous cover designs of the 3 EPs will link together to form one image of the titular totem. With guest vocals from both AstroSnare himself and founding father of the UK hip hop scene MC Duke, here, clearly, is something imminent, a rise of The Scribes, a method grasping an evolution for UK hip hop, yet firmly aware of its roots and unafraid to exploit them.

http://www.quillequipped.com

http://www.facebook.com/scribesmusic

http://www.instagram.com/thescribes

Can you Help Lucie with her Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust?

Most girls want wireless Mpow headphones, an iPhone 11, a Himalayan salt lamp, or something like that for their fifteenth birthday. Maybe Lucie Green of Devizes does too, but in an awesome act of kindness, her focus is on having twenty inches of her hair cut off to donate to the Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust is an amazing charity which provides real hair wigs for children suffering from hair loss. When a child loses their hair to cancer or another condition, the Little Princess Trust provide a free, real hair wig to help restore their confidence and identity.

They also fund research and say, “we won’t stop until the research that we fund ends childhood cancer forever. Promise.” Though the Trust relies solely on the efforts of enthusiastic community fundraisers, and receive no formal funding.

Can we help her raise money for this worthy cause? Even the smallest donation is greatly appreciated, and all the money will go towards the cost of making a wig, which can be up to £500.

You can donate via Just Giving, Here.

Wishing you the very best of luck, Lucie. Maybe we could get a before and after picture?! For more information on the Little Princess Trust: www.littleprincesses.org.uk

A Modern Reggae Classic: Wonderland of Green

On first hearing Wonderland of Green, I was like, yeah, that’s as sweet as a sugarcane field. But it’s moreish; every listen it approves all elements, everything I love about reggae, and why I love it.

Fruits Records may be based in Switzerland, but their dedication to authentic Jamaican roots reggae is paramount. This latest release featuring the Silvertones is a prime example, a sublimely balanced one-drop riddim with all the hallmarks of reggae’s golden era; the roots sound of the seventies, Black Ark, the legendary studio of Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Roots Radics rub-a-dub riddims of the early eighties. These traditional styles echo through this 7” EP; the heavy bass, the offbeat guitar riff, and the traditional female backing vocals as passed into mainstream by the Wailers’ I-Threes.

Yet it also pounds contemporary at you too, fresh sounding, with a version, Living In A Wonderland, toasted by Burro Banton, an incredibly gritty-voiced DJ popular in the late eighties and nineties dancehalls of Jamaica. Even the subject matter of Wonderland of Green is timeless, as it suggests, it’s earthy and ecological, a tenet inherent in Rastafarians long before it became trendy.

The band behind the riddim is the 18th Parallel. Produced, composed and arranged by Antonin Chatelain, Léo Marin and Mathias Liengme, and recorded at Geneva’s Bridge Studio by Liengme. There’s an instrumental on the flipside, and an extra killer dub mix by French wizard Westfinga, who retains the retrospective ethos using the traditional dub values set by King Tubby.

Burro Banton

But what makes it so thoroughly beguiling is the vocals by The Silvertones. A legendary vocal harmony trio from the early ska era, originally, Keith Coley, and Gilmore Grant, with Delroy Denton joining early in their career. Delroy’s individual baritone and guitar skills saw him quickly become the frontman. Though he migrated to the States and was replaced by Joel “Kush” Brown.

Though the only remaining member is Keith, who takes lead, that’s just technicalities, as the modern line up rests with Norris Knight and Nathan Skyers on harmonies, both of whom have solo careers in their own right.

Westfinga & The 18th Parallel’s Wonderland of Dub

Recording at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One, they interestingly triumphed in Jamaica with their debut single, a ska re-creation of Brook Benton’s “True Confession,” a track producer Duke Reid would also have the early Wailers record, but the Silvertones is indisputably more poignant. They also recorded under guises The Gold Tones, The Admirals, but most popularly as The Valentines, prevalent with the skinhead’s ska revival era was a tune called “Blam Blam Fever,” denouncing the rude boy’s gun culture.

The Silvertones

Through the late sixties they enjoyed success recording for Reid’s Treasure Isle label and Clancy Eccles, as vocal harmonies became more significant during the rock steady era. Yet their dominant period was the early seventies when they stepped into the converted carport which was Black Ark.

The eccentric amplifier genius, Lee “Scratch” Perry is renowned for getting the best out of any artist, he shaped the way we view Bob Marley & The Wailers. With penchant for outlandish, heavyweight psychedelic sound testing, he was the experimentalist who would pave the way for dub pioneers like King Tubby.

Historically then, Wonderland of Green slips right in as if it’s been there all along, but prominent now with its environmental subject matter, it’s gorgeous. I look forward to blasting it on my Boot Boy Radio show this Friday, maybe blending versions together, even if they’re live from the Skinhead Reunion, and who’s punters would favour boss reggae!

Wonderland of Green is newly released this week, as download, or on regular black wax 7” vinyl and on a beautiful limited and numbered picture sleeve edition with opaque dark green vinyl; how apt!

Streaming: http://hyperurl.co/wonderlandofgreen

Vinyl records: https://fruitsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wonderland-of-green


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Our IndieDay at Brogans!

Images by Gail Foster

Coming from Essex where shopping is religion, you’d think I’d be impartial to the duty. But no. To be bluntly honest, as I believe I mostly am, I find nothing entertaining or enjoyable in sauntering a continuous stream of mundane chain stores aimlessly, other than to spend money I haven’t got on crap I didn’t want or need in the first place. Blessed we are then, in Devizes, with an array of original, charming and interesting independent shops, which make shopping endurable for whinging cronies like me! An ethos celebrated, kind of, this Saturday by the group Devizes Retailers and Independents who, in order to return commerce to our wonderful and lively town, held an “IndieDay.”

MP Danny Kruger opened the event, I missed that, loads of shops got involved and opened their doors to a festivity-fashioned celebration, missed that too. Donkeys and more, I missed. Far better for me to contribute by loitering outside Brogans café, munching on a bacon roll and taking credit for Mike J Barham’s hard work!

I arrived late, The Devizes Rotary Club arrived long before to lend us a grand gazebo, and Mike too, he set up a PA, he managed the PA, he hosted the event with his charming and entertaining charisma, and everyone came up to me and thanked me; result!

Honestly, as I’ve said, I have to give a massive thanks to everyone involved for making it such a special day, and in this day and age it was indeed even greater. Mike Barham for one, aforementioned contributions, but two, for rocking both the opening and finale with a plethora of his own work, such as the lively Bowser’s Castle, and thoughtful prose through downtempo blues, to the thundering satire of a west-country-styled Top Gun theme, Danger Zone! The guy is a one-man machine, the best of the best, of the best.

So yes, breakfast to a late lunchtime at Brogans got lively, as people filled the plot outside and the carpark, in the sunshine. It was something until late last night I feared would fail, with gapping gaps between the confirmed acts. Sadly, and for various reasons, Archie Combe and Tom Harris had to cancel, and our opening act, Pewsey singer-songwriter, Cutsmith was also unable to attend. The worry took me until 10pm when I unleashed a masterplan; Tamsin Quin cropped up on the book of face, to thank me for reviewing the new Lost Trades single, and so, whammy, I dispatched note of my concern and asked nicely if she would be able to grace us with her presence, and naturally, sing us a song or three.

I highly suspect they’re secretly superheroes, Tamsin, Jamie and Phil, and if not, they certainly saved my skin, more than once before. Tamsin dragged Jamie R Hawkins along, and as their alter-egos with no need for superhero costumes, they did it again. Thank you both so, so much. Tamsin gave it her all, which needs no surprise, her confidence and professionalism doesn’t preside her charming grace and skill to entertain. Jamie accompanied her brilliantly on cajon, claiming to be “getting into it now!” after just two songs in.

Then Cath and Gouldy rocked up on their way to the Southgate, to play as their folk duo Sound Affects, which was, as ever, blindingly awesome. All originals and finishing on Mr Blue Sky and Come on Eileen covers, it was superb. So, a massive thanks to them.

The finale then, was rocked by Mr Michael J Barham, which I’ve said already, but needs another mention. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it really special day, including our photographers, Ruth, Nick and Gail, writer Andy and all the supporters. Thanks to Brogans for having us, I trust we behaved, least it could’ve been worse, believe me! It’s times like this which make Devizine feel more than me clonking on a keyboard, and rather a thing of community, of spirit and substance. Though now I’m back clonking, vainly bigging up our own gig, which I justify by noting it’s not about me, or my bacon roll, and more about the good folk who regularly contribute to make this website function, the musicians, writers and photographers, and supporters. Here’s to more, I want more!

This is not an act of vanity, but a condition Gail set forth in order for me to get permission to use them! Thanks Gail, it takes a highly skilled photographer to capture me smiling!

Bristol Hip Hop Group, The Scribes Coming to Salisbury

Described by The Evening Herald as, “raw and exciting, honest and sensitive, a soulful brand of rap,” Bristol’s trailblazing hip hop outfit, The Scribes play Salisbury’s The Winchester Gate, on Saturday September the 12th.

The Winchester Gate is a community pub just on the out skirts of Salisbury city centre which heralds live music, particularly supporting reggae and hip-hop culture. The event is free, The Scribe planning to begin at 7pm.

The Scribes are a multi-award-winning hip hop trio, whose unique blend of beatboxing, off-the-cuff freestyling and genre-spanning music has created a critically acclaimed live show quite unlike any other on the scene today, with appeal ranging far beyond traditional hip hop fare.

The Scribes at BeCider Festival

They have consistently proven to be an impressive and engaging live act with 2019 festival appearances at Glastonbury, Wilderness Festival, Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Bearded Theory, to name but a few, and have toured extensively across the UK and onto Europe.

The Scribes are also proud winners of both the Exposure Music Award’s “Best UK Urban Act” and the EatMusic Radio Award’s “Best Live Act”, and have provided original music for BBC and Channel 4 television, as well as being featured regularly on both national and local radio and media including BBC 1Xtra and BBC Radio 1 Introducing.

Hotly tipped as one to watch, The Scribes have shared stages with the likes of Macklemore, Wu Tang Clan, Dizzee Rascal, Kelis, Rag N Bone Man, Example, Lethal Bizzle, The Wailers, Jurassic 5, Sugarhill Gang, KRS One, De La Soul, MF Doom, and Souls Of Mischief, and are steadily establishing a growing following across the continent to add to their already significant fan base at home.

Check out their new EP, The Totem Trilogy Part 1 here.


Two Man Ting Bring Sunshine to the Southgate Today

Winding up their “mini tour,” after last night’s gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, world/reggae duo, Two Man Ting appear at Devizes Southgate for an afternoon session from 4 to 6pm.

Midlands Jon Lewis and Sierra Leonian Jah-Man Aggrey, are a branch of world dance collective Le Cod Afrique, who play a cheerful combination of multicultural roots-pop. A welcome addition to the Southgate’s continuing mission to provide a diverse range of live music to Devizes; and a grand job they’re making of it!

With Aggrey’s bright, chatty vocals and bongos, and Lewis’s acoustic guitar picking, this promises to be something great and wholly different around these waters. They’ve done the festival scene from Womad and Glasto to the Montreux Jazz Festival & Glastonbury, and their acclaimed album “Legacy” has been much featured on BBC Radio 3 & BBC 6 Music.

Should be a good ‘un!

Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine

Daniel Jae Webb reports for Wiltshire 999s that the organiser of the house party, in Wick Lane, Devizes on Friday night, has been issued a £10,000 fine by Wiltshire Police, for ignoring a police warning.

Officers were called to the house and requested the party was be shut down in line with COVID-19 regulations, and claims their pleas were ignored. A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said, (which I’ve had to amend the basic grammar of, like a primary school teacher): “As we continue to navigate through the COVID pandemic, we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions and adhere to the regulations.”

“Despite a warning, the organiser allowed the gathering of 80-100 people to continue, which is in clear breach of the current restrictions. Which states that ‘no gathering of more than 30 people may take place indoors, which would constitute a rave, if it were outdoors; amplified music, at night and due to loudness, duration and time it would likely cause significant distress to locals.”

Partygoers were dispersed and the hefty fine was issued. It’s a substantial amount for anyone to digest, the website stated, “there is no discretion given to set a lower amount.” Job done police, story dusted and archived. In my opinion, though, I’m afraid it feels far from over and arguably raises a number of questions.

I feel impelled ask then, firstly, was it shut down for safety reasons, due to the pandemic, or as the Wiltshire Police spokesman clearly states here, “amplified music at night would likely cause significant distress to locals?”

I cannot help but agree in this era of the pandemic we all must consider the risks and act accordingly, but the environment must be attained for people to want to do this, and take action appropriately, rather than feel they are being forced by law. Yes, the organiser and everyone who attended was putting their own health and the health of others at risk, and were foolish to do so. And when the officers attempted to engage with the group, they should have taken heed. Yet they should have wanted to do this of their own free will.

The harder the law, the more likely the rebellion toward it, though it may be important for the law to be enforced, an unaffordable fine such as this is draconian. It’s likely to have an adverse effect from the youth, who understandably see their lives disrupted in the same manner as everyone else, yet with no clear indication of ideas are being pitched to support them.

We’re casting our children out into the riskiest easing of lockdown ruling since it began, by returning them to school and college, and though you may deem it necessary, can you not also see they must feel like lab rats?

From all ancient philosophies and all of history we see a continuous pattern; people wishing to gather and celebrate is ingrained in our psyche and culture. And let’s face it, the conservative ethos set to stamp out partying long before this pandemic.

The breakup of the trend of the free festival scene in the eighties, only constituted a bigger problem to attempt to outlaw, the raves in the nineties. Retrospective youth cultures we can reflect back on now, and realise and agree the occurrences of these events were not only ground-breaking for artistic progression, and memorable for the attendees, but in reality, harmless fun.

Regulating and eventual normalising of the Criminal Justice Bill, saw something far worse; a political and social rejection of society, and a fight between police and people; a disgruntled conflict.

The psychological effect of lockdown is only just beginning to be felt, as we venture away from it. You feel isolation for the elderly was difficult, how was it for our younger generation who, by the illusion of timespan, six months feels far longer? The need in younger people to party must be recognised, as I’d imagine older generations reflect upon their youth misdoings. Rather we’re stamping our authority around and closing individual cases with a pat on the back and a job well done. We should, as a society in the dawn of change, be considering how we can arrange and organise celebratory events and parties sensibly and safely.

We have managed to adopt and implement new systems for shopping, for eating out, travel, and all other activities older generations wish to engage in, we should now focus on ways to keep the younger satisfied too. I don’t profess to have the answers, but believe by thinking together, and frankly, giving a hoot about our entire population, we can work out methods to accomplish it. Furthermore, if ideas were suggested and implemented so parties could go ahead safely, the need and want to break the law will surely lessen.

Break up the party, yes indeed, as we’re far from out of the water, but chuck people a paddle. They need a release; they need party and celebrate now more than ever in these trying times. If not, issue 10k fines to all who break the regulations; every grandad who forgets and leans over you in a supermarket, every businessman internationally jetting around the world, anyone, I dunno, who felt like driving across the country during lockdown to visit a castle, perhaps?

The Lost Trades on Cloud 9

New song from our local purveyors of the perfect folk vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades. Out for another Bandcamp Day, today, Friday, where the website drops it’s fees and gives the artists 100% royalties; and darn it, if this isn’t worth a quid when it constitutes a mere quarter-cup of coffee from a posh café these days, I dunno what is.

The origin of the idiom, cloud nine is largely debated. Explanations relating the US Weather Bureau of the 1950s denoting fluffy cumulonimbus type clouds, or the penultimate stage of the progress to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva, are mostly debunked. But who needs a debate when you’re in a definite state of blissful contentment anyway?!

All you need know is this tune will land you on said cloud as if you were the monkey-god Sun Wukong on a mission. We are blessed with all the hallmarks of a Lost Trades signature tune; the calming tingle of xylophone, the gentle sway of acoustic guitar, the heavenly vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics to boot.

As Pink Floyd, around the Meddle era, after a bout of heavy space rock, when it suddenly drifts into thoughtful acoustic mega-bliss, this song just drifts akin, without need of heaviness, of Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps, meandering along a river on a gondola, thinking; hey man, let’s, like, sing; and it’s gorgeous, as we may’ve come to expect from this Trowbridge-Devizes trio. I wonder if we’re looking at a track from the highly anticipated album, yet, even if no, it’s the perfect display of progression for the newly-formed trio, who’s exceptional solo careers combine to create just as the title suggests; sitting on cloud nine.

With Tamsin advancing with her album, and Phil some way in front, teasing us with a cover design for his, titled Revelation, it’s clear the solo side projects will continue, but as a trio they bounce perfectly off each other, though it’s hardly a shove, more mooch.  Download it here.


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.

Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.

What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.

So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.

I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.

I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!

Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.

Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.

Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


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Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?

I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.

Jon Veale

Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)

As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”

I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


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Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

Spent a recent evening flicking through old zines I contributed cartoons to, relishing in my own nostalgia. Not egotistically admiring the artwork, or even laughing, rather cringe at most of it. More so because every publication has a backstory; where I was, what the hell I was up to, and thinking, if at all, at the time. It’s like Gran’s photo album, to me. But I guess reminiscing is symbolic of this pandemic year, nought else happening.

With that in mind, Bill Green of local self-titled Britpop trio Billy Green 3 has a great story to tell, ending with a retrospective release on the streaming platforms. He met Simon Hunt at a party, they liked each other’s jumpers, shared a love of music from the Beatles to the Stone Roses, and hung out on the guest list with Chester’s indie rock band, Mansun on their ’96 tour.

Billy’s mate John ‘Jimmy’ Burns “simply wanted to be in a band and dressed well.”  Never having played their instruments before, let alone in a band, one night they decided to form one with another of Billy’s friends, Mark Molloy. “We” Bill explained, “jumped about to ‘The Jam’ and had often spent nights drumming along on bars and tables.”

With Mark on drums, Simon on Vox, Jimmy on bass and Billy on guitar, Still was forming. Yet I guess Bill was reminiscing this foundation when deciding upon a name for his debut album as the trio, back in January, which we cordially reviewed, here.

“I’d written a few songs,” Bill continued, “so we set up second-hand instruments in Marston Village Hall, and banged out a few tunes, no covers mind.”  He had been DJing the ‘Vroom!’ Club, at the Corn Exchange. “Ian James was kind enough to put us on that Christmas and New Year’s, and people actually came to watch, a band was born.”

Still played the local circuit and even had a dalliance with Virgin Records, having spent a day travelling around London knocking on doors and dodging receptionists and PAs. They booked studio time with Pete Lamb’s studio in Potterne, followed by more studio time at Holt Studios, where a personnel change saw Andy Phillips join on drums and later, James Ennis on guitar.

As a five-piece they played into early 1999, before calling it a day and believing the recordings were lost. Simon Hunt recently unearthed the cassette, much to Bill’s delight, and the demos have been remastered “and tidied up a bit,” with the help of Danny Wise. Returned to Bill, who has enthusiastically released it as an album called Destruction at the beginning of the month. “And here they are,” he excitedly called, “as a permanent record of the biggest indie band ever from Devizes…. called Still!”

“I’m just shocked that Marston has, or had a village hall,” I expressed.

“Rubble when we finished playing!” Billy kidded, possibly.

These are raw demos, but brilliantly echo a time of yore when Britpop was in the making and a newfound generation of garage bands were spawning like a wart on the bottom of commercialised pop. What is great about this album, aside the backstory, is it represents all those early influences of the scene and mergers in a way we might today take for granted, but were, in essence, different scenes and youth cultures divided by decades, at the time. Yes, these may have been bought together by his more defined recent album, Still, but this is essential history for fans of that album, as it opens the casing and shows the very workings of it. Similarly, it works more generally than that, as an insight for fans of the genre.

For if influences of Britpop’s ‘big four’ are represented here, in the jaunty attitude of Blur, the maladroit studiousness of Pulp, the euphoric ballads of Oasis, and the brashness of Suede, there’s also arty punk rock and psychedelic reprises, like Elastica’s affection for Wire, even the Beatles.

There are echoes of Britpop inspirations, ‘Respect Now’ feels like it’s drawn from the genre’s eighties influences; the Jam, up to the Stone Roses. Yet tracks like ‘Happier Now’ ring drum-based upbeat riffs, but slating postpunk vocals, and the sobering drone of The Smiths. Whereas, ‘Pale Impression, Man’ is closer indie enthused from post-punk gothic, rather the end of the era anthems, like the track ‘Catch,’ which rings Suede or The Verve.

‘Lady Leisure’ just rocks, simple; this was produced at Pete Lamb’s, along with the other first bout of garage-style rock, ‘Happier Now’, and ‘Superstars,’ the latter savouring the sound of the Kinks. Perhaps the most poignant are two the love ballads, which along with ‘Catch’ were recorded at Holt. Bill informed me, “‘Gav4Saf’ was a fledging love song written for a friend’s wedding.” But the beautifully crafted ‘LoveSong’ is a missing piece of Oasis, and as a stand-out ballad is the only track rightfully to be reworked for Billy Green 3’s modern album Still. The finale is the title track, with a sublime rolling bass guitar, Who-like.

 “We hope there are some people who will listen and remember those heady days as fondly as we do,” Bill expressed, “it’s basically demos but such good memories!” It may help, but is not, I reckon, essential. I reason, quite regularly, that finding the early recordings of any artist is often more worthy than the celebrated later releases, when eagerness overrides rawness and economical recording sessions. They brought out the original enthusiasm, the roots to greatness. I favour ‘The Wild, Innocent and E-Street Shuffle’ rather than Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ for example. Even delve into bootlegs of Steel Mill, where despite the boss not being frontman, you can hear a distant echo of genius harking from the background. ‘Destruction’ is out now, as well as the single, ‘Catch,’ across the streaming sites, (Spotify) a notable antiquity of the local music scene.


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Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective Do What They Love, at The Southgate

He’s a fast learner, that Keanu Reeves; think how he progressed to “the chosen one” in little over an hour and half, while his superiors barely advanced at all; comes with the chosen one job, I suppose. Think cat scene, for example, where this novice presumed déjà vu, but twas a glitch in the Matrix.

Had a touch of déjà vu myself on Sunday, chatting with Essex’s Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective; alas I’m not the chosen one, until it’s time to do the washing up. Barefacedly had to check my own website, suspecting they’d been mentioned before. And I was right, Andy wrote a part-review back in July; I was briefly there too. Blame it on a glitch, rather than memory loss; this is 2020, glitches in the Matrix are abundant.

Regulars at the Southgate in Devizes, Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective are as the name suggests, but don’t do run of the mill. Cowboy hats and chequered shirts held a clue, but arrive excepting unadulterated county & western and you’ll get nipped. While there’re clear Americana influences, here’s an exclusive sound unafraid to experiment.

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Jamie’s abrasive vocals are gritty and resolute, perfect for this overall country-blues sound, but it progressively rocks like Springsteen or Petty, rather than attempts to banjo twang back to bluegrass. It also boundlessly exploits other folk and roots influences, with a plethora of instruments and expertise to merge them into this melting pot. And in this essence, they are an agreeable rock band, appealing to commonalities; but do it remarkably, with upbeat riffs, tested but original material, and passion.

Not forgoing, I still need to be careful, and it was but a whistle-stop to the Gate, to wet my whistle. As current live music restrictions being the way they are, it’s unfair to use a gig review as a base for an act’s entirety. For starters, they’re missing bassist Jake Milligan, and drums deemed too loud to bring, James “the hog” Bacon made do with a cajon and bongos. The remaining two, Jamie and Dave Milligan, cramped in the doorway of the skittle ally with acoustic and electric guitar, respectively. Which, in a way, proves this band’s aforementioned adaptability and desire to experiment. The proof is the pudding though, and battling through the restrictions of the era, they came up with a chef-d’oeuvre.

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Professionally, they scorched out a great sound nonetheless, mostly original, but a rather fitting Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, with Jamie’s grinding vocals apt for a later Dylan classic. But this downtempo cover was the exception to the rule, their originals upbeat and driving.

To pitch a fair review, though, is to take a listen to their latest album, Do What You Love. The cover of which is unlike your cliché Americana tribute too; highly graphical splashes of colour akin more to pop, or a branding of fizzy drink. The songs match, a popular formula of cleverly crafted nuggets intertwining these wide-spanning influences. One track they did live from their album was accompanied with an explanation the recorded version used a brass section and even a DJ scratching, yet they made do with Jake joining James for a hit on the bongos.

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They certainly enjoy what they do, and appear relaxed in the spotlight. This doesn’t make them tongue-in-cheek, like, say Californian Watsky & Mody, who blend hip hop into bluegrass for jokes. Rather Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective has evenly balanced said collective’s influences and conjured this celebrated, danceable and fun sound, flexible for a standard function, like a wedding party but would also liven up the day at a mini-festival.

As an album though it encompasses all I’ve said above, there’s cool tunes like Lazy Day, the orchestrated reprise If I met my Hero, and rather gorgeously executed ballad, Held in Your Glow, but also frenetic tunes, driving down the A12 with the windows open music, Red Hot and Raunchy being a grand, light-hearted example but I’m A Stone as my favourite, with its clever pastiches of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, it rocks.

You need not visit the Oracle, waiting with spoon-bending broods, Keanu Reeves, for her to tell you Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective are not some “chosen” livid teenagers trailblazing a new sound and striving for the spotlight, but a collective of passionate and talented musicians loving every minute of performing, and this comes across as highly entertaining.


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Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art?

The Smart E’s “Sesame’s Treet” bleeped through the hills of a west country location in 1991. There was an air of delight and mirth when someone pointed to the ridge yonder. “Look,” they chuckled, “the pigs are dancing!” Story checked out, I turned my head to witness a couple of police officers jumping and waving their arms, mocking the fashion of a dancing raver. Imitation we never took to heart, ravers were tongue-in-cheek about their chosen music; repetitive beats over a children’s tv theme was comical nostalgia, and not supposed to be taken seriously. As for the police, seemed as individuals observing, they saw the simple truth that there was no harm in what we were doing. Yet there was always hate in the establishment they took orders from, and we were months away from being grounded by force.

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Hysterical measures by a desperate conservative government, who failed to see the value we held for something they couldn’t understand, an electronic art movement, principally, a modern folk music.

Authoritarians detest art, least the progression of art, seems to me. And it has been plaguing my mind of recent. Freedom of expression, they fear, encourages liberation, unrest and consequently, rebellion. Munich, 1937; Third Reich leaders combined two opposing art exhibitions into one, the “Great German Art Exhibition.” The first hall featured art which Hitler considered suitable, orthodox and representational, lots of flaxen folk gallantly posed like Roman deity sculptures, and local idyllic rural sceneries.

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The second displayed what Hitler deemed “degenerate art,” contemporary, progressive and mostly abstract. But they ensured it was demoted, through exhibiting it callously, with disorder, and bestowing dissuading labels on it, describing “the sick brains of those who wielded the brush or pencil.” Hitler pushed stringent boundaries onto German artists, because he figured art was key to the rise of Nazism and his vision for the future.

Damn, he hated the Bauhaus. Forced the art school to close in 1933. Their angular designs which would herald the most efficient revolution of modernist architecture, were deemed communist intellectualism by the Nazi regime; give them an archaic Spalato Porta Greek arch, or be shot!

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I see humour as my art, my aim is to make you laugh, whenever possible. In a week where a keyboard warrior reported me to Facebook for an ironic slate at Boris Johnson, yet a grammatically atrocious meme, stating they need not pay for a holiday, when purchase of a dinghy from Argos will see them put up in a hotel, is hailed as hilarious, I receive a message of eternal doom for the grassroots music industry, from a professional musician.

Gone, it seems, are the days of eighties “alternative comedy” of the Footlights, of Ben Elton and Rick Mayell scornfully ridiculing Thatcherism. Gone is the echoing mantra of Joe Strummer demanding “a riot of our own.” Today the art of comedy, and music, barely touches political matter, and never takes risks. Humour is subjective, as is all art, I accept this, but art enriches our lives, provides joy and entertainment, and should never be curbed or censored. Yet we find a consistent urge by blossoming traditionalists to dampen the spirit of artists.

The Trump administration eliminated the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. An annual $150 million is a devastating blow to the industry, yet hardly major cost-cutting as it weighs in at only 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Akin to the ethos of the “Great German Art Exhibition,” history is peppered with examples of right-wing philosophy opposing art. The Stalinists enforced stringent principles of style and content, to ensure it served the purposes of state leadership, methodically executing the Soviet Union’s Ukrainian folk poets, according to the composer and pianist, Dmitri Shostakovich. Just as Chile’s coup of 1973, when Augusto Pinochet tortured and exiled muralists. Singer, Víctor Jara was murdered, his body presented publicly as a warning to others.

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In the UK, the reopening of lockdown restrictions despite the pandemic still mounting, where it seems perfectly acceptable to travel to foreign lands on a luxury holiday and return without quarantine, where we are encouraged to shop till we drop and eat out in restaurants to save the food industry, and it’s commonly accepted our children will be used as lab rats in a herd immunity experiment, a government, who let’s face it, should have imposed a lockdown sooner, as was the example of every other developed nation worldwide, rather than fail to attend meetings with the World Health Organisation, and use unreliable companies to supply software and PPE to help combat the virus, simply because they are mates of theirs, will not allow us to have a sing-song in a pub.

Now, at first, I accepted the possible threat, but in light of recent lessening of restrictions, I fail to comprehend the logic in this, in continuing the restrictions on art and music. Given the historical facts surrounding the authoritarian’s apparent hatred of art, I am beginning to fear the virus is a being used as a convenient excuse to suppress and suspend creativity. Oi, loony leftie, shut up, stay in your home and watch the celebrity Pointless special.

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I suggested, didn’t I, art is subjective? If Hitler liked the conventional, representative of Renaissance tradition, it was his prerogative, but there was no need to kill everyone simply because he couldn’t draw horses very well. Since the invention of photography can duplicate precise imagery, artists seek expression, inimitability and design according to their own mind. If it constitutes liberal or reformist ideals, why should it be devalued by opposing attitudes? The problem arises when oppression is enforced, freedom will return the fire, and will be back, refreshed, to bite them on the bum!

Just as the Jamaican JLP party of the right, battled burgeoning Rastafarians into the Wareika Hills in the 1950s, and labelled them “Blackheart Men,” or bogeymen, yet the surge of reggae and the popularity of Bob Marley today sees Rastas accepted in Jamaican society for the tourism it attracts, The Battle of the Beanfield in 1985 did nothing to control travellers in the UK. Less than a decade later the free party scene metamorphized into a rave generation which saw youths rally to support them. You cannot curb progressive movements in any art without risking a wave of rebellion. Ironically, the very thing they’re trying to prevent.

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We’ve seen a return of the rave, police fearing a riot if they try to prevent them, but they reflect nothing of the magnitude of the nineties, yet. Unless grassroots music venues and pubs who were regularly supplying live music are reopened, even if that means social distancing measures are in place, it is inevitable you will open a gapping underground and future generations will strike back. This does nothing for the values conservatives uphold, or their vision of a totalitarian future, but furthermore severely punishes every professional in the arts industry from rock star to sound engineer, every prospering new performer in an era formerly to lockdown, I see equivalent to those swinging sixties; a time I suspect most baby boomers of tory ethos hold dear. An era where every youth was in a band, and focused on music rather than belligerent misdoings.

Yet still, gammons, I believe is the modern terminology, if the left is snowflake, persist in whinging about how youths have no respect, how they were flaunting rules in the park, gathering, conspiring, they so suspect, against them. What if they are, though probably just socialising as they likely once did in their younger years, what if they’ve some masterplan to overthrow this Tory charade; they surprised by this? How egocentrically imprudent, how selfishly insular. This is people’s livelihoods they are toiling with. As Bob Marley once said, “a hungry man is an angry man.”

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Online Auction for All Cannings

All Cannings Pre-School are holding an auction for the summer! It includes tickets for days out and experiences, plus vouchers and gifts.

There will be a post for each item in the auction, with an image and description. Bidders will comment on the post with their maximum bid, hopefully increasing it to beat others over the weekend! All to raise essential funds for All Cannings Preschool. A very big thank you to everyone who has donated items for the auction.

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Round Up: 13th August 2020

Hi all, back with our regular updates. Though we are still some way to returning to normal, the event calendar is looking a little healthier as events are being added. Please note some events listed may have been cancelled and I’ve just not noticed, so check the links before planning anything.

 

The first Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale will be underway on Sunday, here is what it’s all about: https://devizine.com/2020/07/28/devizes-wide-community-yard-sale-what-a-great-idea/

 

We’re continuing to support Tanya Borg’s campaign to get her children back, please sign the petition. Though we’ve good news that Danny Kruger has agreed to meet Tanya: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/tanya-continues-her-campaign-promised-meeting-with-danny-kruger/

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And you may have seen our hero, Wayne Cherry walking through town, here’s why:  https://devizine.com/2020/08/04/hero-wayne-cherry-back-in-action/

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Last time I was allowed out to play, I made haste for the Southgate where the Lost Trades played, and I give you some words on this, and review their debut EP: https://devizine.com/2020/07/30/three-times-better-the-lost-trades-the-southgate/

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This week we reviewed Paul Lappin’s new single, Broken Record: https://devizine.com/2020/08/09/paul-lappins-broken-record/

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And a nice tune from Bath producer JAY, featuring Ben Keatt, called Sunset Remedy: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/sunset-remedy-with-jay/

And Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain: https://devizine.com/2020/07/26/atari-pilots-right-crew-wrong-captain/

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For fun, I did a piece on the Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties: https://devizine.com/2020/08/02/worst-pop-crimes-of-the-mid-eighties/

And had a little satirical slate at WC’s seagull survey: https://devizine.com/2020/08/08/sign-the-seagull-survey-bob/

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There a continuous online Bath art exhibition in aid of Children’s Hospice south west: https://www.artgallerysw.co.uk/bath-art-expo/

 

And on Fri 14th August, Mad Dog Mcrea online live stream from Bath’s Komedia, and the Beat stream from Birmingham. Find links on the event calendar.

In Swindon, there’s an outdoor Amy Winehouse tribute at the Ridge.

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Sat 15th:

Devizes: Eddie Martin Band @ Southgate from 4pm.

Seend: Paranormal Investigation @ Old Bell

Amesbury: Eddie George Live at The New Inn

Swindon: Sophia & the Soul Brothers at the Cotswold Water Ski Park

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Sun 16th

Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale

Park Yoga @ Hillworth Pk

Jamie Williams & the Roots Collective @ Southgate

Bath: Two Tunnels Race

Kevin Brown’s Shackdusters Live at The Queens Head, Box

Swindon: Bandit & B2D Present: The Acoustic Sessions @ The Vic: with Mike Barham, Jordy Pearce & Jade Coral Feast. This is free entry, doors at 7pm.

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Tues 18th

Devizes: Vinyl Realm have a Vinyl Listening Session at the Literary & Scientific Institute

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And that’s the week. I’m delighted to say, I’ve worked on a proposal for live acoustic music at Devizes Indie Day on 5th September which has been pitched to relevant councils. Hopefully we will get permission to do this, and as soon as I know, you will too; if you keep in touch with www.devizine.com

 

Other things to look forward to: The Concert at The Kings has been cancelled this year, but check out some small, social distanced gigs at the Kings Arms in All Cannings: Los Pacaminos with Paul Young is sold out, but tickets are available for 23rd August with the Sloe Train Blues Band: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/concertsatthekingsarmsltd1

 

On that same Sunday, 23rd August, The Lost Trades play the Queen’s Head in Box, tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/schtumm-presents-the-lost-trades-tickets-115953571253

You should note, and I’m completely upset about this, but Facebook has decided Devizine is a spam site and has blocked our URL. I am trying to rectify this, but to be honest, I’d get better luck finding alien life in the universe. For now, do as I am doing, try not to depend on notifications from us via Facebook, and go direct to the site, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. We plod on.

 

 

Paul Lappin’s Broken Record

A cracker of a single from Swindon’s Paul Lappin this week, a Britpop echoing of Norwegian Wood, perhaps, but tougher than that which belongs on Rubber Soul. Broken Record is an immediate like, especially the way it opens as crackling vinyl and the finale repeats the final line into a fade, as if it was indeed, a broken record.

Shrewdly written, the venerable subject of a passionate breakup metaphors the title, “ignore the voice of reason, leave the key and close the door, do you think you’re ready, to become unsteady, like a broken record, you have heard it all before.” Paul does this frankly, with appetite and it plays out as a darn good, timeless track.

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It’s head-spinning rock, intelligent indie. Harki Popli on tabla drum and Jon Buckett’s subtle Hammond organ most certainly attributes to my imaginings of a late-Beatles vibe. Yet if this is a tried and tested formula, as I believe I’ve said before about Paul’s music, he does it with bells on.

For less than a chocolate bar, download this track from Bandcamp, it doesn’t disappoint.


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Sign the Seagull Survey, Bob!

Sign away and get your say in how we slay the seagulls, even though there’s no such thing as seagulls, so they cannot be any causing trouble, here, or at sea. Gulls, Wiltshire Council, without reading National Geographic, could possibly mean. Love or hate them, they don’t taste particularly nice, even with a thousand island dressing, that much we can all agree on. And they can be annoying blighters, taking gluttonous tourist’s chips to, you know, survive and stuff like that. Unlike other wild animals which have the common decency to ask politely.

They squawk too, don’t they? Bloody annoying when you’re trying having a lie-in, pondering if Waitrose is lowering its class demographic these days. Dogs bark all night, owls hoot, cows moo, ravers have parties, but none poo on your Audi, keep them. So, if you’re enraged by our relatively low by comparison to coastal areas, increasing seagull population, fill in the survey and you could win a holiday for two to Southend-on-Sea.

Other innocent birds are exempt, even Tory supporters and other pests. Still, let’s bring those gulls in line with the fox and badgers of yore, tally-ho! Pests are pests, but can be subjective, I mean, I’m none too keen on wasps, and councillors who fail to respond to people’s enquiries, such as, is it possible to fix a swing in a park, stuff like that.

Glad they’re in charge of Wiltshire and not New South Wales, you know, with scorpions and black widows; a gull’s nip on the bottom might not seem so bad then. Read between the lines, one councillor woke up one morning with gull poo on their nice car and bingo, they’re going to convince you we need to punish them all! Next week, who knows, a hoodie might try to nick their hubcaps and all teenagers will be shot.

You know me, I’m impartial, but maybe we should stop pigeonholing and cull all pests. Talking of pigeonholes, how come we’re fine with pigeons, who outnumber the seagulls and are generally ranked higher in most lists of bird pests? They backhanding the council or what?! You can bet your bottom dollar those pigeons have signed, takes the pressure off them!

Sunset Remedy with JAY

Is it still fashionable to be late for a party, or are we conversant enough to realise this refined art is solely perpetrated by egocentrics pretending to be too popular to be punctual? Rather, I’m am obsolete slob who can only apologise to Jay and Wise Monkey for my delay in reviewing his debut single featuring the vocals of Ben Keatt, but what excuse can I give? Here’s where fatherhood comes in handy, being too candid to be vain, least I can blame it on my kids and their perpetual school holiday! That said, I’ve gained some experience on Minecraft and, if I really try, I can do more than two keep-me-upsies.

Sunset Remedy is the track, released last Friday. Jay, Bath’s first external artist of Wise Monkey Music is a producer and instrumentalist, defined as “a bright shining light in the future of DIY and Bedroom Pop,” and I can only but agree. In the fashion of the classic neighbouring Bristol downtempo sound of Massive Attack and Portishead, it came as a surprise to note the soulfulness beats of this sublime track, as it melodically traipses with funky guitar, poignant lyrics and an uplifting air.

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If Pink Floyd came after Morcheeba, they might have sounded a little something like this; neo-soul, the kind of song you wish was physical matter, so you could pluck it out and give it a cuddle! It’s breezing with nu cool, with a melancholic plod and would blend between tracks on Blue Lines unnoticed, save for perhaps this backdrop guitar riff, providing scope of multi-genre appeasement. Ben’s vocals are breathtakingly touching and accompanies the earnest lyrics and smooth beats perfectly. Yeah, this is a nonchalant chef-d’oeuvre, crossing indie pigeonholes and one I’m going to be playing until I hear more from Jay.

And don’t run away with the idea I’m singing it’s praises simply because of the delay in getting to reviewing it! So not me. You trust I speak my fractured mind, and anyway, time is an illusion to this aging hippy. If punctuality was money I’d be happily broke; procrastination rules, ok. No, I urge you grab this beauty, and show some love to Jay’s Facebook page.


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Tanya Continues her Campaign; Promised Meeting with Danny Kruger

The protest at Downing Street due to happen today has been postponed, but Tanya Borg has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of her campaign since we reported on it, a fortnight ago. So, a quick update on its progress and how you can help this Pewsey mum fight to get her children home.

Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.

I’m glad to have received a reply from our email to Danny Kruger on the issue. He stated “I share your concern for the awful and distressing position of this family. Please be reassured I am in contact with Ms Borg and with the Foreign Office, and of course I share your belief that the British government should do everything it can on behalf of British citizens.”

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Although Tanya expressed, she has had a reply from Danny, forwarding the response from the African representative, “it’s the same response I got two years ago saying they can’t help, but also that Danny Kruger can offer me a meeting.”

A glimmer of hope must go a long way for anyone involved in such a heart-breaking situation, as Tanya awaits a date for this meeting, “but it could be interesting,” she says.

Meanwhile there is an important petition you can sign, here. Please do.

Here is the Go Fund Me Link, if you can help.

There is also a tee-spring hoody, and tote bag with printed logos of the campaign, and all the money raised will go to the fund, here. Join the Facebook group for further updates, here.


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