Song of the week this week comes from Brighton’s singer-songwriter Lewis McKale, a Billy Bragg-ish harmonica and guitar combo breakup song from his forthcoming album, Self Help Tape.…
Retrospectively shouty, Thanks For Nothing is as anti-Against All Odds, as Dylan’s Positively 4th Street, but if that’s not selling it to you, it’s a moreish grower with a unique composition, ideal for a damp spring evening as you watch rain drizzle down the window with lukewarm tea in a chipped mug….which is what I’m currently engaged in, because it’s better than BBC1.
Got to rain, though, hasn’t it?! Likewise, musicians must express themselves, and this is heartfelt simplicity at its best.
All the ickle birdies singing in the blossom, and it’s beginning to look at bit more like spring, which it should, being equinox, which basically means, take a raincoat to all the events we’ve found to do in Wiltshire this coming week!
As usual, more information and ticket links to everything I waffle on about here can be found on our event calendar. I know, like a stuck record I say this every week, but listen up; this article is put out on the Monday or Tuesday of each week, and is compiled from many sources, from individual venue’s websites, and various social media groups. Once published you can guarantee someone, somewhere, usually on a Facebook share, will inevitably say “oh, you forgot this!”
So, with this in mind, I do try to update the article, but be aware not always, so the best place to go and check for updates towards the end of the week is our calendar, as it will be updated there.
It’s never an easy task, to remember to check everywhere, it’s like data juggling, and often stuff gets missed, but never think it’s because we don’t like you, or something similar, it’s only that we missed it within the perpetual overload of information coming in! We love you all, please message us if you know of something we forgot and we’ll do our upmost to get your event out there.
Onwards, to Wednesday 22nd March 2023, when as ever there’s an acoustic jam at the Southgate in Devizes. Opening night for Made in Dagenham at the Neeld in Chippenham, and that’s running up to Saturday 25th.
Also running until Saturday, Sheelagh Stephenson’s dark comedy, The Memory of Water is presented by Rondo Theatre Company at The Rondo in Bath.
Afrobeat/funk at The Bell in Bath with Worm Discs Attack’s DunDunDun.
Argentine tango king and Strictly Come Dancing legend, Vincent Simone, brings his show Tango Passions to the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, with Paula Duarte as his leading lady.
Thursday 23rd and The History of Soul, a joyous, life-affirming celebration of soul music through the years performed by a truly exceptional 9-piece band can be found at Melksham Assembly Hall.
Jessie Phelps plays The Tuppenny in Swindon, with Trashed, Sweet Diego and Palps at The Vic. Endorsed by Rod’s own family, Some Guys Have All the Luck – The Rod Stewart Story comes the Wyvern Theatre.
The Sylvertones play The Bear in Bradford-on-Avon, Steve Knightley’s 2023 solo tour, Unlock Me & Other Lockdown is at Chapel Arts, Bath. Wildlife presenter Gordon Buchanan’s 30 Years in the Wild is at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Friday 24thWilswood Buoys, Meg and Ed Dyke play the Pump in Trowbridge, The Lost Trades are at Chapel Arts in Bath.
Celebrated Irish singer songwriter Brigid Mae Power paints expansive songs that are effortless, hypnotic, and folk-oriented, at Pound Arts in Corsham.
Find Stanton PLC and Yur Mum at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. While The AKA Trio play the Wiltshire Music Centre. AKA Trio is the result of 12 years of friendship between three world-renowned virtuosos: Italian guitarist, Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora player, Seckou Keita and Brazilian percussionist, Adriano Adewale.
Looks like the last time you’ll ever get to see punk legends Cockney Rejects, as they play a farewell tour at The Vic in Swindon, with Angry Itch and Street Outlaws in support. For a more relaxed evening in Swindon, find The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Wyvern Theatre.
Black Sabbath tribute, Sack Sabbath at the Tree House in Frome, while more dance tributes play The Cheese & Grain, Chemical Dance and Daft Punk Experience.
Right, now, starting off with a craft fair at Melksham Assembly Hall, Saturday 25th is humongous, so pay attention! I’m at least triple-booked with no idea which I want to do; might have to flip a coin!
Guest at the last Jon Amor’s monthly residency at the Southgate, Thomas Atlas brings his full band to Long Street Blues Club in Devizes, and that’ll be lovely. But folk artist John E Wright plays down The Cellar Bar, the incredible Plan of Action play The Three Crowns, Devizes Scooter Club presents legendary northern soul DJ Terry Hendrick at The Cavalier, and DJ Flash is at The Exchange.
Any of these will be great, but, one of our favourite-most, local dark country blues band, Concrete Prairie play The Southgate, Devizes, and this is unmissable, guys; that means don’t miss it(!!) and I’m sorry to everyone else, but I must, by law, make this Editor’s Pick of the Week!
Now, that’s not all, because there will be trippy sita playing at The Barge on Honey-Street when Omnivibes arrive in the evening, but before this, from around 3pm, our favourite Marlborough eighties new-wave/goth duo, Deadlight Dance will play a set, you may recall they came to my birthday party a few weeks gone. Personally, I’m having difficulties remembering much of that evening, with no explanation why.
Another damn fine choice, is to head to The Lamb in Marlborough, for if Pants were invited to play Vyv and Jackie’s farewell party as landlords there, the new owners have only gone and invited them back; utter madness, is precisely what you’ll find, and The Vooz are also playing.
Sheer Music presents indie favourites Arms & Hearts at the trusty Pump in Trowbridge, with Ed Poole in support (ignore the date on my poster, it’s changed.) The lovely Sour Apple play the Wiltshire Yeoman.
Tequila Slammers play at Melksham Rock n Roll Club, while Peaky Blinders Band do their thing at The Pilot in the Sham.
A whole host of amazing choirs from across Wiltshire descend on Calne’s Pocket Park for The Big Sing 2023: A song for Elton, a glittering finale to this year’s fabulous Calne Spring Sing, as they film a very special 76th birthday message for one of the best-selling artists of all time, Sir Elton John.
Iron Maiden tribute at Chippenham’s Consti Club, Ed Force One.
Find the wonderful Kirsty Clinch at Suave in Westbury.
Triple bill at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, with The Bolsheviks, The Setbacks & Split Dog. Dom Martin plays Chapel Arts, Bath.
Pearl Jam tribute, Earl Ham at the Vic in Swindon, and social media sensation and Chortle Award winner, Rosie Holt debuts an hour of comedy based on her smash-hit satirical videos at the Wyvern Theatre.
Thom Belk will be at Wilton Live at Michael Herbert Hall in Wilton.
Gaz Brookfield plays The Tree House in Frome, while King King play The Cheese & Grain, with Glenn Tilbrook.
Sunday 26th, Furlined at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, Fly Yeti Fly at Schtumm, The Queens Head in Box, and there’s an album crowdfunding launch for this ever-hotter Blues & Rhythm ensemble, Kirris Riviere & The Delta du Bruit at The Bell, Bath.
Revolution Performing Arts School presents The Soaring Revolution at Swindon Arts Centre.
At the The Cheese & Grain, Frome Voices sing Mozart.
Monday 27thand it’s the opening night of hidden Shakespearean gem Measure for Measure at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, running until April 1st, when they have their open day. Directed by Liz Sharman, see preview here.
Ben Tunnicliffe’s Nowhere Ensemble bring synth bass, bass clarinet, drums and keys into the room marked jazz and don’t entirely behave as expected, at The Bell in Bath.
Tuesday 28th, Crazy Bird Comedy is back at The Piggy Bank in Calne, with Andrew Bird headlining, and Tuesday also sees Dreamcoat Stars at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, and Ivo Graham’s My Future My Clutter at Swindon Arts Centre.
Ruth Blake plays The Bell in Bath.
And that’s your lot. If it’s not enough to be getting on with, you need to be thinking about buying tickets for Devizes Musical Theatre’s 9 to 5 at Dauntsey’s, which starts on Wednesday 29th. Have a great week, hope to see you around!
Saturday April 1st, between 10am and 2pm The Wharf Theatre in Devizes are holding their second ever open day, it’s free and open to all. Whether you’ve been in the theatre before, or not, everyone is welcome to come and see what goes on at the Theatre and what goes into putting on a show…..
There will be a collection of costumes, and guided theatre tours – even to darkest depths of the Wharf visitors don’t usually see, like the tech box and green room.
An entirely free event which will be offering refreshments. If you’re interested in joining the theatre groups, either on the stage or behind the scenes, people will be on hand to chat about the various roles, but even if you fancy popping in for a cuppa and a look around, they’re welcome.
Publicity director Karen said, “following the lockdowns, when it looked for a while that we might not survive, we were saved with the help of the lovely local people who donated to our Just Giving Page, we would like to think that we are the little theatre who the town took to its heart and helped to save.”
Next show at The Wharf is hidden Shakespearean gem, Measure for Measure, running from March 27th to the open day on April 1st. See our preview here.
While The Trussell Trust created the first food banks in 2000, under Tony Blair, usage of them rose by a staggering 2,612% during David Cameron’s term as Prime Minister. It didn’t stop him barefacedly posing for a Tweet mucking in with Chipping Norton’s “Chippy Larder.”
Devizes MP Danny Kruger joined the food poverty hypocrisy voting against Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals over lockdown. Speaking in defence of ministers’ continuing refusal to U-turn the policy, he reasoned in the Gazette & Herald, “the problem is generous, unconditional, universal benefit entitlements trap people in dependency on the state and rightly enrage people who are working hard for themselves. That’s why I believe in a more flexible, community-led approach to welfare.”
To address local causes of financial hardship, community organiser at Devizes and District Foodbank, Alex Montegriffo, arranged a meeting with Danny Kruger last month, with members of Devizes community, and representatives from local charities; let’s see these “generous, unconditional, universal benefit entitlements,” panning out in the real world, shall we?
One hot topic was people living on houseboats, who’ve not had access to the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme since it began. Out of the estimated 550 people living in houseboats in Wiltshire, only houseboats with a permanent residential mooring are now able to access the fund, leaving regulations for those in non-residential moorings, like marinas, in the dark, literally.
Danny Kruger agreed to write to the Canal and River Trust about using their database of houseboat license fees to distribute the £400 payment, by taking it off license fees, and potentially using their offices as permanent addresses for those with continuous cruising licenses.
Another topic was the insufficiency and lack of flexibility of the social security system, with benefits like Universal Credit often leaving applicants below destitution level. A member of Devizes community spoke, “every day I see my husband come back from work exhausted. He counts all the bills and has said, if prices rise again, he doesn’t know what to do. He uses some of my disability benefit to pay his bills, and then pays me back when he gets paid. That shouldn’t be right in this day and age.”
If claimants get into debt, even more money is taken away from their Universal Credit allowance, leaving sometimes just £100 a month or less for food and electricity.
Long and complicated application processes, even for small amounts of money or basic support, causes barriers for those who need help but are unable to fill out forms, or feel stigmatised by the process. As a result, there’s £10 million of unclaimed Pension Credit in Wiltshire, a benefit which unlocks Cost of Living Payments. Attendees heard Wiltshire Council are currently in discussion with the community organiser of Devizes and District Foodbank to simplify the application process of one of their support schemes, the Local Welfare Provision, to alleviate this issue.
A couple from Devizes described their frustration at not being encouraged to work, and feeling judged as ‘lesser’ for not being able to work. Volunteering is not counted as work, despite the attendees contributing significantly to their community, spurring a discussion on the topic of the impact of part-time work versus full-time work versus volunteering on benefits, where the taper rate for Universal Credit discourages part-time work, and leaves some people better off not working if they cannot work full-time due to health conditions or disability.
Localising the social security system, so there’s more human contact and agency for recipients, as well as better advertising of support through local trusted individuals, was also discussed. Proposing how schemes such as The Homes and Money Hubs of Barking and Dagenham could be adapted to Devizes, as the Integrated Care Alliance already brings together some departments of Wiltshire Council with social prescribers.
If those with second homes have received their Energy Bills Support Scheme payments, but people living in houseboats are struggling, if people need more support than ever in the current cost-of-living crisis, if people feel they’ve no one to talk to, or are unable to get through on the phone for help with applications, clearly there’s lots of work to do; the food bank isn’t just about giving out tins of beans.
Suggestions were made of a community hub in Devizes, with support for applying for and receiving benefits, or developing the several organisations existing at the St James Centre further. Here’s a group conversing specific topics and looking for solutions to this cost-of-living crisis in Devizes. They meet again on Thursday 30th March, 2:30-3:30pm at the Cheese Hall in Devizes Town Hall to plan and implement a project in Devizes addressing issues raised, which might be adopted in the rest of Wiltshire; if you feel you can assist, please attend.
“It would be great to get more people there to plan a project, and also be consulted on uses of the Community Fridge in the Shambles,” Alex explained, “although Danny agreed to do one action, which I’m not sure has been done or not, we agreed that sometimes it was quicker to do things ourselves.”
Attendees agreed to act, as they can quicker than local authorities and government. Cameron’s defunct socio-political soundbite “big society,” in action during these trying times, I could scoff, but tip my hat to all involved with this, for their enthusiasm and dedication. Not only Alex, but Suzanne Wigmore of Citizens Advice Wiltshire, Richard Oliver of Devizes Opendoors, Graham Martin of Sustainable Devizes, Martin Elliott of Warm Spaces Devizes and Devizes Community Fridge, Kate Brooks, Sarah Cardy and Rachel Clarke of Age UK Wiltshire, and those active members of Devizes community, thank you.
Day-to-day, though, we can all help, supporting Devizes & District Food Bank. Currently supporting an average 220 people per month, over 1,980 meals per month are supplied, which wouldn’t happen without donations. You can download a BanktheFood app to keep up to date with their shortages while shopping, and drop off points for items can be found here.
Bristol’s purveyors of emotive post-grunge verging on etherealwave, Lucky Number Seven get our song of the week today, for their latest burst of harrowing energy, Marker Pen.
It’s neo-goth come post-punk, relished in Bauhaus lachrymose and passion, yet twisted with Foo Fighters’ fervidity, tumbling like iced water over rocks, it’s a rollercoaster four minutes full of masterful poignancy, apt for a Breakfast Club remake earring swap scene; enjoy but mind gnawing your fingernails….
If establishing Pride events in our cities and larger towns is sooo last decade, darling, we’re both keen and overjoyed to join the newer trend of small towns, even villages hosting Prides, as Devizes LGBTQ+ announce the very first Pride in Devizes on Saturday July 1st….
It was an overexcited notion I put to Devizes LGBTQ+ group organiser, Oberon Christmas when they first started up a couple of years ago, and though taking it onboard as a future possibility I think they figured small acorns to begin with. Understandable, but now, with regular meets and events at The Exchange nightclub, it looks like the time is near to our own Pride here in Devizes.
Pewsey is also hosting a first Pride at the Cooper’s Field on 15th July. Melksham Pride is a couple of years strong now, that’s on 24th June at the Assembly Hall. Calne also pops its Pride cherry with a small event on Castlefields Park on the 4th June. Of course, Pride is well-established in Chippenham, and this year sees our favourites Concrete Prairie on stage at Island Park on 17th June.
Though our details are yet to be revealed, it is a wonderful thing to be able to announce that Devizes is too to travel over the rainbow and join this festive fun. One thing, I see a lot of town councils assisting to get these small town Prides off the ground, and I do hope Devizes Town Council will follow this trend.
I’m having a nose at Devizes Arts Festival website, as they’ve just published this year’s line-up, which you can find HERE. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know of this year, but that’s no bad thing, because I’m something of an uncultured swine!
This wonderful annual arts festival on our doorstep has cultured me; turned me from bonehead bozo to bohemian squire in just a few short years! I’ve discovered so much I never thought I’d like but I did, whereas before all this I was happy with a karaoke and a bag of chips!
Bearing in mind there might be a few things left to add, particularly the free fringe events, let’s see what’s in store we know about, shall we? Not to get you over-excited, it isn’t until 2nd June through to the 17th, and the box office opens on 28th April, unless you’re a “friend” booking for friends starts on 11th April, see here to become a member now and get ahead of the game. But you know us, let’s dip a toe in the ocean now. I’ll put pretty little stars next to ones I personally think are unmissable; favouritism, I know!
It opens with some tango, at the Assembly Room of the Town Hall on Friday 2nd June, with polar adventurer and motivational speaker Sue Stockdale at St Johns Church on the Saturday, and an evening with opera star Sir Willard White with the Kymaera Duo at Corn Exchange.
The Three Crowns plays host to the first fringe event we’ve got, at 2pm on the Sunday 4th, with banjo and guitar roots combo Texas Tick Fever, and one we gave a song of the week too a few months back, the amazing Ajay Srivastav is the second free fringe gig at the Cellar Bar from 7pm, this is a must for me! First star, two stars **!
Walks are a big part of Devizes Arts Festival, personally I’m fine walking from the Three Crowns to the Bear on a Sunday. But the Festival Walk takes you over civil war battlefield Roundway Down, which actually sounds kinda doable!
First full week sees micro-artist Graham Short at the Town Hall on Monday 5th June, and Onarole Theatre’s Jesus, My Boy at the Corn Exchange on Tuesday 6th.
Welsh, Polish, and Belgian influences fuse with the Aglica Trio at the Town Hall on Wednesday 7th, and see, that’s exactly what I meant earlier when I said about discovering new things; this year is an eye-opener, gets a star! *
And let’s not stop there, because the Town Hall plays host to cello and guitar duo Dieci Cordeon on the Thursday, and you don’t see this everyday in D-town! Also on Thursday, actor and singer, Lucy Stevens, and pianist Elizabeth Marcus meet for A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.
Comedy by the weekend, with someone I do know (!) BBC New Comedian Award winner at the Edinburgh Festival, Marcus Brigstocke, is at the Corn Exchange on Friday 9th June, oh yes, star! *
Tessa Dunlop’s Elizabeth & Philip – A Story of Young Love, Marriage, and Monarchy kicks off Saturday 10th, at the Town Hall. Rip-roaring alt-folk with Noble Jacks at the Corn Exchange, while fringe event is at 2pm in the Condado Lounge, Jukebox James.
It’s a hard stompin’, bluegrassy, old-timey start to Sunday with a free fringe event at the British Lion with The Sisters and the Brothers, (star *,) a walk along the Wansdyke, and back to the Corn Exchange for the furniture restorer from The Repair Shop, Will Kirk.
One not to miss, local blues legend, Elles Bailey Band, on Tuesday 13th June, 8pm at the Corn Exchange, this is cool, we’ve not seen Elles for an age, and it will be good to welcome her back to Devizes; star, deffo! *
Also on Tuesday, author Lois Pryce’s Revolutionary Ride – One Woman’s Solo Motorcycle Journey around Iran at The Bear, and Wednesday sees Clive Anderson, yes Clive Anderson, chatting about Macbeth; could be one of those where are they now moments, oh, they’re in Devizes, incredible!
I mistakenly read the next one, and thought fictional female equivalent to Dan Dare, Kitty Hawke was coming, rather St Andrews Church on Thursday 15th play host to folk duo Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow, while Chris Ingham Trio plays the Jazz of Dudley Moore at the Town Hall.
The festival draws a close with the unconventional and snappily attired boutique orchestra, Christian Garrick and the Budapest Café Orchestra at the Corn Exchange on Friday 16th June, traditional Balkan and Russian, I’m going to star this too! *
Saturday 17th June sees a poetry workshop with Carrie Etter at the Town Hall, and the grand finale is Devon’s reggae Latin funk powerhouse Malavita, which if you know be by now, they said Latin, they said reggae, I’m saving my last star for this – here it is *, and I’m there already.
The more I delve into this programme the more exciting it sounds, as ever, a refreshing break from the normal circuit, where variety knows no bounds. Well done Devizes Arts Festival, it all sounds irresistibly worthwhile looking forward to. In the meantime I’ve got to add all these to our event calendar; does it ever end?!!
Windy but warm, no, not me, the weather, I mind my manners, I thank you! Here’s what’s going down this coming week across our green and (mostly) pleasant land……
You should know the score by now, adding links here, ain’t nobody got time fer dat! You can find all that, details, links for tickets and stuff over on our main event calendar, and you can use it to plan ahead, good huh?
Wednesday 15th Memory Cinema, wonderful idea, dementia friendly film screenings, at Swindon Arts Centre, this one is Dad’s Army.
New York’s musician and writer Franz Nicolay, member of cabaret-punk orchestra World/Inferno Friendship Society, the Hold Steady, Balkan-jazz quartet Guignol, and co-founder of Anti-Social Music, comes to the Pump, Trowbridge with Aimless Arrows in support.
Acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.
Original music at The Bell, Bath with world-folk into jazz artist Solana.
Thursday 16th is comedy night at Trowbridge’s Civic.
Dirty Sound Magnet at The Vic, Swindon, while the The Rosellys play The Tupenny.
Will Page plays Chapel Arts in Bath.
Friday 17th find Sour Apple at the Condado Lounge in Devizes, and The Truzzy Boys play The Bridge Inn, Horton.
Damn! at The Bear in Marlborough, with Al Jenkins at The Green Dragon.
Melksham Assembly Hall prepares for Giants of Rock.
Sound Affects play for St Patrick’s Day at The Talbot in Calne.
Junkyard Dogs at Old Road Tavern, Chippenham.
Upcoming local punk-based Foxymoron are at the Pump, Trowbridge; you need to see these guys rock, and they’re with The Easy Peelers and Lonely Daughter. Be Like Will play the West Wilts Conservative Club in Trowbridge.
Hacksaw & Hot Pink Sewage & Altermoderns at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, while Karport Collective are at The Boathouse, and Ineza Women’s Words, Sisters Stories is what’s in store at Wiltshire Music Centre.
House Above the Sun at Chapel Arts, Bath, and our Full Tone Orchestra are at Bath Abbey Churchyard with Karl Jenkins Adiemus.
The Unravelling Wilburys at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Come What May is the play at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon. The Pre-Fab Four Beatles tribute at the Vic.
Saturday 18th is the opportunity for families to see what the fabulous Calne River Warriors get up to, and join in raft making and a woodland hunt, see poster below. In the evening, Six O’clock Circus take over The Rec Club in Calne.
The Hoodoos are at The Southgate, Devizes, with Rev at The Three Crowns, Ben Borrill at The Moonrakers, and Southern Ruin at The Dolphin. Smackdown at The Corn Exchange with CSF Superstar Wrestling, and DJ Flash is in the mix at the Exchange.
Pink Floyd night at The Barge on Honey-Street.
Songwriter’s Circle at the Pump in Trowbridge provides us with Editor’s Pick of the Week; with Annie Dresser, Lucy Grubb, Dan Wilde, and Luke James Williams.
Find Custyard Pye at Stallards, also in Trowbridge.
Orange Skies Theatre offer some riotous, narrative cabaret with Wild Onion at Swindon Arts Centre, while the musical theatre concert tour of Beyond The Barricade is at the Wyvern Theatre.
The awesome Barrelhouse play the Queens Tap in Swindon, Chop Suey bring nu-metal vibes to the Vic.
Some Indian classical music with Pooja Angra’s new project Creative Unity, with vocalist Karan Rana, sitar player Baluji Shrivastav OBE, and tabla player Mitel Purohit, at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Ragged Union play The Three Horseshoes.
Jenny Colquitt plays Chapel Arts in Bath.
Blur tribute Blurd at The Tree House in Frome, with Hayseed Dixie at The Cheese & Grain, and Be Like Will at the Artisan Pub & Kitchen on Christchurch Street.
Sunday 19thsees Trowbridge Symphony Orchestra play Wiltshire Music Centre, in Bradford-on-Avon, and find Bob Bowles at The Three Horseshoes.
The FOS Brothers play The Bell in Bath.
Arch Garrison at The Vic, Swindon.
And a record fair at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
Monday 20th and Sue Harding & Gabriel Moreno’s Troubadour Bandits play The Bell in Bath.
Tuesday 21st and the regular spoken-word open-mic Poetika is on at The Winchester Gate, Salisbury, every third Tuesday of the month. This session with guest poet, Claire H has a Through The Looking Glass theme.
That’s all folks, but remember do check ahead for those ticketed events, keep on scrollin’ our event calendar and watch out for updates. Have a fantastic weekend. Tell us if we missed anything, it’s free to list here, but you must send me some details, I’m not mystic Meg.
If of recent I’ve been critical about counterproductive steps taken to solve the rise in youth crime, favouring encouraging events designed for our youngest, it doesn’t mean any age demographic should miss out on live entertainment. Therefore, it was a blessing last night to see the Corn Exchange jam-packed, predominately with middle-aged and elders, enjoying a cracking musical variety concert in aid of Devizes Opendoors.…
A massive congratulations goes to the organisers, especially Dora Kan, who slaved to create an amazing rosta of entertainment and sizable raffle. Acts were tried and tested; Dora is an active member of the humongous PSG Choir, who shone for the finale with zest, ardour, and a selection of pop classics; my favourite? Well, no child of the eighties can argue with such a wonderful rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours, now, can they?
One personal particular highlight of the event was to witness PSG members’ bubbling smiles of enthusiasm as they lined the doors awaiting their turn to shine. At one point I was nearly encased within them, praying I wouldn’t be dragged in by the crowd and expected to sing too, for this could’ve been the disastrous consequence which spoiled an otherwise unspoiled evening!
The pop gospel choir is a local amateur community-driven choir, which doubles as social group, with Will Blake as the mentor and conductor. But if the concert acted as both showcase and advertisement for this open choir, prior to this, Will was given the opportunity to also showcase himself and his trio.
Covering an era-spanning range of sing-a-long pop classics merged into a non-stop medley, The Will Blake Trio enthuses any audience with a showy display of accomplished precision. Will himself takes to a grand piano, carrying off the act in true Jerry Lee Lewis standing position. He even has the tendency to kick the stool away. To begin with The Jungle Book’s King of the Swingers is bold, to infuse it with the Jackson’s I Want YouBack is surely just showing off, isn’t it?!
It was the most amazing burst of energy to rouse the crowd after the interval, but if Will has class and style, and the choir can hold the audience in a certain awe, with the sheer number in the choir one could argue it’s not so tricky as doing this solo. This is where I came in, apologies to the amazing multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and music teacher Andrew Hurst, who I unfortunately missed.
I’d rushed home after a Devizes hockey 1sts away game in Portishead, and by the time dinner was finished I checked the listing on my own event guide to see it started ten minutes ago, an hour ealier than I’d imagined. Fancy that, I run the blasted event guide and still messed up! I heard a great response to Andrew’s set, knowing him, it’s hardly unexpected. Pre-lockdown Andrew was teaching my son piano, and his perfected work method engaged him throughly, and he’s no easy kid to engage. Dora is also tutored by Andrew. As I said, the entertainment has personal connections to Dora, which gave the evening this wonderful community ambience.
Anyway, I disgress, you don’t need to hear of my first jog up Dunkirk Hill since turning fifty, and how I suspect someone extends that hill a few extra yards everytime I scale the mountain, you need to hear, everyone needs to hear, what greeted me at the summit. As I say, a choir, yes, solo to hold a crowd spellbound, that’s another thing entirely.
Chloe Jordan was already on stage, perfectly accompanied by Susan Braunton on keys, but my inexperience in wording a critique on opera, on classical singing will show through here, in only being able to compare it to the very best of rock, blues, indie and folk singers of our usual haunts. However amazing they might be, this is way beyond. The pitch and note changes, the enriching power of this soprano holds you, encases you in the same awe as an entire orchestra.
It is, in a word, breathtaking. If the phrase using ones voice as a musical instrument is cliché, there’s no better way to describe Chloe Jordan in full flight. It’s something amazing, a something to summon angels down from the heavens to listen, I kid you not!
Though we’ve not touched base on the overall joy this evening will bring, as the sellout crowd donated to the local homeless charity Devizes Opendoors; such a worthy cause. We’ve heard a staggering sum has been gratefully received, and this is the cherry on top of a wonderful evening and a testament to what can be achieved.
Chole, though, with her entertaining covers of sing-a-long classics from musicals and films, my personal highlight of which being Doris Day’s Deadwood Stage, which wowzers, if I’ve not heard for an age, I’ve never heard it performed so absolutely sublimely, I thank you, you are staggeringly amazing!
While it may’ve been a week of social media turmoil at Devizes Town Council, the type usually reserved for national politics, a few hours prior to the uproar, I put the phone down after the kind of conversation which left me feeling more like I’d been catching up with an old friend, rather than interviewing a candidate for a local election……
I got the notion before chatting to hopeful Guardian Town Councillor, Vanessa Tanner she feared I’d come over all Jeremy Paxman! It’s not fair play for me to interrogate a person any more than it’s the opposition in this by-election’s morals to post exaggerated and prejudicial statements about them, though they did.
It’s impossible to publish concentrated material, such as an interview, to match the velocity of which social media accelerates, therefore I intend to produce this interview as it was said before this whoha, hoping it will shed some light on the Guardian candidate’s character and personality. Then, it is up to residents of East Devizes to decide if it’s the kind of refractory group who would slanderously magnify a trivial error in hope of sabotaging the opposition which they want on their seat at the town council, or an active member of the community, too busy cleaning the streets, engaging in support groups, and with the public, to fuss over some bitterness on bias Facebook pages.
Though the appropriateness of sole Councillor-controlled social media groups was a subject I coincidently wanted to verbally jab Vanessa with, it was something she didn’t dwell on, and our chat begun with the reason why we have this by-election in the first place.
Town clerk, Simon Fisher said of Jane Burton, “She was fiercely knowledgeable about all things Devizes. In the Council Chamber, Jane was a formidable force unafraid to take on anyone to get her point over; however, whilst she would not always agree with a viewpoint others would over, she would always be respectful of differing opinions. She had many skills and attributes we all admired, but she had a special ability to connect with residents, to listen and advise.”
So, I opened said passive interrogation(!) suggesting Vanessa had some “big boots to fill!” But she extended this like birds of a feather, “it was actually Jane who asked me to join the Guardians,” continuing with a recollection of a quiz night, “and before I knew it I was a Guardian!”
Vanessa has been a volunteer of Devizes Clean Up Squad for four years, and we spoke of the fantastic work they do. Though Vanessa is so active in the community, we moved swiftly onto her involvement with the “Love Devizes” group. “Yes,” she explained, “it started off with Love Devizes during Covid, and I was delivering meals during that time, for the people who couldn’t get out, and then it changed to Love Ukraine, which I became heavily involved in, because we had the first Ukraine guests here.”
Meandering already, a heart-breaking tangent ensued about her guests. Vanessa revealed how they only stayed a couple of months; after Russian concentration lessened in her hometown of Kiev, they returned to help her family, and for concern to their children’s wellbeing. To encourage our conversation back to her as a candidate, as I felt her passion on the subject would’ve led her to talk on this subject forever, I offered all this was evidence enough that she is a people-person. But does Vanessa hope to get the time to carry-on groups like the CUDs if she was to become a councillor?
With a tone of upmost sincerity she replied, “I hope so,” expressing her job had come to an end and venturing she should have enough time. Being she had stated she only had half-hour to chat, and I’d already diverted it to Ukraine, she replied, “I’m quite good at time management!” Best rush through my questions, because I’m hopeless at it!
I wondered if there was any other charities or support groups Vanessa was actively engaged in, and that was precisely why we only had a half-hour window; she was off to work at the Dorothy House shop. “And Sustainable Devizes is a big thing for me,” Vanessa continued. Though a hot topic with the public, The Crammar isn’t part of East Devizes, her association with the environmental group is enough to convince me of her penchant for wildlife and environmental issues. The Guardians in general have been engaged with talking to the Friends of the Crammar campaign group, and so we switched to the lack of electric-car charging points in Devizes. Again, though Vanessa relayed the question to a personal anecdote; her son came to stay, who has an electric car, but there is nowhere in town which an accessible charging point. “So, I raised it with Wiltshire Council, and asked on Devizes Issues, where are these car charging points, and…. There aren’t any!”
Vanessa wrote to the supermarkets to ask them when they were likely to put them in, “and I worked out that Devizes is the biggest town in Wiltshire without any electric car charging points.” I sighed, as she sustained, “I think they’re coming, there was a debate in the council a couple of weeks ago, about when they should be putting them in.”
New builds, I turned the subject onto. Vanessa agreeing encouraging contractors to up the percentage of affordable housing on new builds was vital to maintaining an age demographic in town, otherwise younger residents are priced out of the market. Neatly bringing us around to the other hot topic, youth crime. I asked Vanessa if she agreed we needed to improve funding for youth groups and associations. “I think with any bad behaviour there’s always a reason which we have to get to the bottom of,” she replied, “what is motivating some to smash a window rather than play football, and if you can get to the bottom of the issue, it’s a lot easier to get these people engaged in society again, because at the moment they’re marginalised but everybody misbehaves for a reason.”
I reasoned it’s for the prestige, so to reduce several youths away from following the perpetrators, they’ve less of an audience reaction, lessening the thrill. “That’s never a bad thing,” Vanessa replied, “to have more facilities. If we can get those reopened, it would be great.”
I admit, I hoped Vanessa would bring the subject of subsidising youth initiatives and groups up of her own accord, but in agreeing with me they should was, to be honest, a good enough baseplate. Plus, she did continue to say, “I think by what Jonathan (Hunter-leader of the Guardians) was telling me, we’re already quite a way down the road to getting a youth engagement officer, so, that will get the ball rolling.”
The importance of selecting the right person for such a job was her resultant, “and that’s something a trained youth engagement officer will know how to do; we’re on the road to getting one of those, and hopefully we can get to the bottom of it. Nobody wants to get their window broken, or be frightened to go out at night, and you don’t want that in a town. As soon as this is dealt with the better, but I think I’m more of a carrot than a stick person!”
Unaware of this idiom, I laughed, proposing it could be our headline: Vanessa; Carrot or Stick?!“Nobody likes to be told what to do,” she explained, as I did bring my grievance about Wiltshire Council holding an open-event on the youth crime subject whereby youths themselves were unable to attend. “They like be involved with decision making. Discussion, compassion, and kindness is the way forward,” Vanessa stated. In this, we must ask ourselves, exactly what is a town councillor, and what do we want from them?
Do we need them to be academics of law and national politics, seemingly expert enough to spot a minuscule flaw in the opposition’s election leaflet and expand it to a full-blown attack only for the purpose of upstaging them in a race to the position, or do we need someone so obviously concerned for our amenities, our environment and public wellbeing, motivated and active towards changing it? For the subjects we covered which do appear on Vanessa’s promises, she was clearer and more adamant on; the green issues of car-charging, and cycle paths, and creating shared spaces, and keeping Devizes independently run.
Indeed, my question was one of statements inviting discussion, that national political parties should be kept out of local council, the very ethos of the Guardians. “Yes,” she explained, “so everyone in the Guardians have their own political views but they’re not bought to the table, because we are all about the town. We’re about what happens here, not about what the national parties have dictated to us.”
Ironically, other parties entering this election pledge a similar promise, though assigned to a national party for funding, they unyielding suggest they too are independently based, though I must ask, surely if someone is funding your campaign, they’ll demand you sway in their favour, at least tow the party line, and carry out the position with the shared philosophy. “I can’t answer for them!” Vanessa laughed it off, “I just know the Guardians are independent, and we will do what’s best for our town.”
And herein lies my concluding section, on councillor’s use of social media, of which you should note happened before the brash and vastly embellished statements of their breaking of election law, by the opposition’s Conservative campaigner Iain Wallis, on his self-run Facebook group. I put to Vanessa, “social media is another sour point with the public now, because while it’s an advantage for councillors to gage public opinion, and visa-versa, some feel those councillors active on social media aren’t really listening to them, rather brashly using it to blow their trumpets, and those who disagree are censored. Do you feel what we need is more attention to a create a united council social media output, so the majority, voice of a united council is the definite article?”
“Wouldn’t that be lovely?!” Vanessa responded with, “in an ideal world! You’ve got twenty-odd different characters, haven’t you? I think they came together for Covid, Ukraine, the bigger things, but they’re different adults from different backgrounds who are bound to disagree.”
But that’s what a council is, isn’t it; to discuss these things, nail out a definite agreeance, and then go onto social media, unitedly announcing the decision? “Social media is a tool, but also a dangerous place to air your grievances. We have got a social media policy, created by Wiltshire Council, and in the main work occasionally there’s a little bit of spat, but it settles down again. But that’s not the place to air your dirty laundry, in my opinion. I use social media to inform people of what’s going on, not to have an argument.” How sad that not hours after Vanessa told me this, she was victim to this precise kind of attack by the opposition, only to better their chances of winning the by-election on 30th March? It says more about them than her.
Vanessa would like to conclude, she is “a real-person, just because I do a lot of community work doesn’t mean I don’t find time to get out and enjoy the pubs and restaurants of Devizes.” She giggled throughout this bit, “I try to frequent all of them, but not all at once! There are twenty-two drinking establishments, you’d be a mess at the end of it, wouldn’t you?” I didn’t like to suggest, I’d given it my best shot, so our chat regressed back to local environmental issues, for it’s something Vanessa is obviously passionate about, but in this is precisely her character and charm, and it’s infectious, exactly what I believe we need in a town councillor.
Communities, getting together, fundraising, and doing something good for their town’s youth. It might sound like the stuff of Terry Pratchett fantasy here in Devizes right now, but over in Bradford-on-Avon, it’s a reality…..
They’ve successfully raised their £250,000 target and invited the town to come and see their new skatepark designs earlier this afternoon at St Margaret’s Hall.
Maverick Skateparks have been busy perfecting their final plans and are presenting them to the full council, to vote on passing on to the construction phase. Campaigners intended to cram the council offices with supporters, we hear it went well.
This is what working with and listening to the public can achieve, Wiltshire Council, proactive engagement in providing facilities for youth, rather than condemning them in meetings, least so-called “drop-in” events deliberately arranged at such a time our younger generation would be unable to attend, much less air their views upon.
Well done, Bradford-on-Avon, for it’s more than a skatepark. It’s a testament to community spirit in an era that has seen so many youth enterprises and facilities cut back. If heaven is a halfpipe, you are the gods of the 180!
Opps, it didn’t occur to me until afterwards, we only had the lads play for us at my birthday celebration at the Three Crowns on Saturday. Not intentional, just the way the cookie crumbled, but it’s no coincidence that today, my actual birthday, falls on International Women’s Day!
Like any other industry, the history of the music biz’s treatment of women may be questionable, but it’s fair to say as far as creative output goes, girls have been at the forefront since pop begun. There are so many talented females on our local circuit, so boys, go vegetate with your X-Box for a moment while we give a deserved roll-call to as many of our favourite girls on the scene as I can think of……(in alphabetical order so there’s no arguments or hair-pulling!)
Oh, for the haunting vocals of Annalise, fronting Salisbury’s purveyors of folk-gothic rock, Strange Folk. So captivating, so evocative; think Amy Lee of Evanescence, and you’re not far off the mark.
Promising Salisbury teenager Becca is an acoustic singer-songwriter who has been known to occasionally strap a band of friends together. Coming from a post-punk angle, there’s some chatty punk-rock Kate Nash-fashioned vocals on some astutely self-penned songs and covers. Themes include contemporary teenage anguish, climate change and mental health.
Drifted from the shores of the Isle of Man to anchor in Wiltshire, I first heard country singer-songwriter Becky Lawrence supporting the annual Female of The Species fundraiser. A young Becky started out in musical theatre, then trekked to London to attend London School of Musical Theatre. This training shows in her confident and accomplished solo show, and within powerful original compositions. Again, themes of maturing and relationships are key, and if you think this is somewhat cliché, Becky puts her stamp on them with poise and exquisiteness. Her first single You Say reached the number 1 spot in the UK Country Music Charts on iTunes, her second gained over 90K streams on Spotify, but her latest my favourite, Loud and 17 is what kept me in awe of her performance.
Fronting Bristol soul four-piece Belle Day, this is a new one on me though they’ve been on the southwest circuit for some years, and I’m happy to report being blown away by these breath-takingly powerful vocals, of the classic Stax-Motown era. It’s smooth blues flavour is ballroom jazzy with a hint of R&B.
Melksham’s premier rock soloist, tattoo artist, and one-fifth of The Female of the Species, Charmaigne is a force to be reckoned with. Powerful, soulful vocals enrich either solo performances or her newfound rock covers four-piece, Siren.
Perhaps the odd one out amidst these pop performers, but when you hear music teacher and classically trained soprano Chloe sing, angels will come down from the heavens to listen, officially!
Show me a female-fronted Muse trump card, and I’ll raise you Trowbridge based acoustic trio Be Like Will. Popular on our pub circuit, they’ve already got some originals under their belt, as well as their popular rock covers. Claire controls the lads, and will hold you captivated too! Book these guys.
Formerly of People Like Us, Claire now performs with six-piece function band LiveWired.
Self-described as “barking!…daft…loyal…technophobic…achey chunk!” we love Claire, for her outrageous onstage banter, and her contribution to Female of the Species. Find this devilish diva fronting Melksham’s most popular cover band, Big Mamma’s Banned.
I’m yet to catch Evie play live. Pewsey’s resident Joss Stone, she brings soulful vocals to her solo show, the like you wouldn’t believe; ergo, Evie is on top of my must-see-list. A singer-songwriter citing Billy Holiday and Nina Simone as influences, so expect some blue soul. You can find Evie regularly at the open mic nights at The Exchange in Devizes, often playing the Moonrakers in Pewsey.
Folk with a touch of soul for this knockout singer-songwriter and acoustic musician from Chippenham, look I’ll leave you a YouTube link from Mr Moore’s days at Trowbridge Town Hall, and you can make your own mind up, but we think Harmony Asia is really something special!
One half of husband and wife Devizes blues trio, 12 Bars Later, this wonderful couple can hold the kind of crowd spellbound which would usually take a six piece supergroup of legends!
Frome-based Julia Greenwood is probably the vocalist of the Female of the Species I’m least familiar with, but through her soul ballads she wows me every year. Lead singer from Soulville Express, it is as it says, Julia can hold the note of Aretha Franklin with remarkable ease.
Ah, our Jules, jewel in the ska crown of Wilsthire. Train to Skaville is the longest-running, chugging along since 2011, bestest ska and reggae cover band in the county, and let the lord Walt Jabsco strike me down if it isn’t so. Also, key member of charity fundraising supergroup, Female of the Species, Jules skanks and we love her for it!
Be it as a solo performer or with acoustic guitarist Sue in the duo Sour Apple, Katie commands any generation-spanning cover with all the power and finesse of the original. Breath-taking to think Katie will attribute a Whitney Houston set with certain ease, and her powerful vocal range I liken to Alison Moyet. Yet through her work in Sour Apple, the duo has set about creating many a sublime original, and works them into a set with equal passion. Prolifically gigging locally they’re the up-coming name which can accommodate any kind of venue or pub, and bring their shine to the punters.
What can we say about Westbury’s finest musical export, Kirsty Clinch that we haven’t already? Concentrating on her children’s music school First Melodies primarily these days, on the rare occasion our wonderful country singer-songwriter and music teacher is performing, you need to be there when she does. Kirsty is prolific in releasing some of most beautiful songs to bless my ears, and is astute with her business plans, self-managed, self-promoter and recently launching her own brand of clothing and merchandise.
Chippenham based duo, David and Lorraine take tribute acts to the next level. Lorraine makes the perfect Blondie, but they’ll add popular two-tone ska covers in too, making for a highly entertaining show. Blondie and Ska will liven your pub up, and get everyone up dancing.
Plan of Action are the Wiltshire rock, blues and alternative band which pack a punch. It’s loud and proud, and for every loud and proud rock band you need a killer bassist, the only girl in the group, Lucianne is the personification of rock bass!
Lead singer with Salisbury’s nu-cool indie sovereigns, Timid Deer. Arguably the most underrated local band, Timid Deer’s unique sound is enchanting, Naomi’s vocals are stunning, and this band does to indie-rock as Morcheeba did to trip hop.
Last but by no means least, we come to our final contributor to fundraising supergroup Female of the Species, Nicky Davis. Whether upfront vocalist or behind her landmark red keyboard, Nicky is a powerhouse. Fronting function band The Reason and lifetime member of our celebrated covers band, People Like Us, entertaining our pubs since 2016, Nicky, we love you!
Haven’t heard from Sally for a while, I know she moves about a bit and believe she resides closer to Oxford. Still her wonderful acoustic sets a few years ago justify her presence on this here hall of fame, and her work with the gothic duo Strange Tales, which seems a little inactive of recent. Still, I never forget a talented musical lady when I meet one!
Sarah C Ryan
The Sarah C Ryan Band describe themselves as “melodic low slung rock pop with a country/folk tinge,” and I always feel they sell themselves down, unaware of how completely mind-blowingly fantastic they are. This, if you perchance to see them at a gig adds a delightful element of surprise. If the name comes over a tad “function band” too, you should take heed, they’re far from run-of-the-mill. Recently did one of the best Visual Radio Arts features I’ve seen, I see if I can drop the link to it……
Frome based Welsh hippy-chick singer/songwriter Sara Vian is in her element singing jazz, soul and blues with a fabulous sunny vibe which charms and disarms with a distinction all her own, and she rides this with bells on.
Collaborating with the Graham Dent Trio, Sara has also released a number of singles over the Lockdown, and wonderfully acoustic goodness they are too!
Daughter to Swindon’s answer to Mike Oldfield, Richard Wileman, an incredibly prolific composer of pre-symphonic rock band Karda Estra, where there is nothing vertical or frenetic about his musical approach, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Though where singer-songwriter Sienna differs is theme, we hear topics of adolescence, youthful relationships, and perhaps their collapses, in this angelic voice of reason. Sienna’s music is experimental too, easy-going, and ambient, and I predict great things from one the most promising young artists locally.
Swindon’s astounding and versatile singer of soul, Sophia has many guises, as lively five-piece soul, Motown, disco, and reggae band, Sophia & The Soul Bothers, formerly Soul Rebels, and more recently a jazz ensemble simply called Sophia Bovell – Jazz. Sophia can hold that note like the great soul divas, and with skilled backing can put the funk into any event.
I first met Sue as an interviewer at the now based in Devizes, Visual Arts Radio, but soon came to realise she is a magnificent Celtic and Americana acoustic folk singer-songwriter too, of the Wilts-Somerset border.
Last in our alphabetical hall of fame, but certainly not least! One third of our beloved acoustic modern country vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades, Tamsin is the stalwart female acoustic singer-songwriter on our circuit, and her flair partly the reason for me starting Devizine as this voyage of discovery into the mostly undocumented wealth of local talent we have here. It should be pointed out the combo was created out of their many collaborations with each other in the past, and each of them, Phil, Jamie, and Tamsin, have had and continue to pursue solo careers aside The Lost Trades. Since highlighting all the individuals of this fantastic trio, The Trades continue to go from strength-to-strength, and are bonded so specially I cannot now visualise life without their wonderful harmonies in it! And Tamsin is the connecting link between the guys, and long may be so.
I do ask Tammy about a second solo album, since the amazing Gypsy Blood debut, and while she never brushes off the notion, her dedication to the Trades is paramount; yeah, I totally get that!
That’s about all I think of, and I like thinking about girls! But I know a few are going to say, hey, you missed me out! I’m sorry if I did, and can edit it if you let me know! Have a great International Women’s Day, and to everyone listed on this “hall of fame” just keep it up, girls, continue the amazing contributions to our music circuit, for without you the guys would probably just be hanging around a kebab van wondering if they’re on yet, and asking where is the gig anyway!
It’s one Devizine overlooked somewhat last year, arranged rather last minute, clashed with Full-Tone, but was still a 1,250-strong sell-out nonetheless. Potterne is not all about Ruth Pearce and Mummer plays, it has an annual festival, and so I caught up with organiser Richard Fred Kerley, to question him about this year’s.
Two hundred tickets have gone already, for the sunny date of Sunday 27th August. He told me, “We have increased tickets to 1,500 this year.” Ticket prices capped the same last year, and are tremendously reasonable; adults at £15, under 18s for a fiver and under 5s go free.
Once known as Potterne Beer Festival, I asked Richard if the beer-tag had been dropped to make it more universal. “Yes,” he confirmed, “we used to concentrate on beer when we first started. Now it is more about music and families.” Still got a handsome beer glass on the poster with a large selection of beers and ciders promised, so never fear!
“Good line up, we think,” Richard continued. With two tributes, Forever Elton and Bootleg Bee Gees, and the Fortunate Sons, I agreed, plus some our fav locals here at Devizine, astounding brit-poppers Billy Green 3, those faithful Truzzy Boys, and the amazingly talented Illingworth.
Noting children’s entertainment on the poster, I expressed, though I’m personally not one for bouncy castles these days, I think this is an often-overlooked important feature at our smaller local festivals as the last thing you need is bored kids! “We have two bouncy castles and face painting,” Richard informed me, “which is extra this year.” Then he boasted three food stalls; pizza, hog roast and a burger van, he sure knows how to push my buttons!
But here’s another great thing about Potterne Festival; there’s nothing Royston Vasey about it, it provides a free bus service from Devizes. “The bus runs from outside Devizes School,” Richard explained, “to the Grove, starting at 11.45, roughly every twenty minutes.” One might fairly conclude it’s bonkers to provide Devizes folk with a means to escape and flood their village, but hey, sometimes you need to let them off their leash, and this all sounds good to me!
Got to be the most bizarre village group Facebook post of the week, when Seend resident Amy Plumb caught a fellow rolling in her neighbour’s muck heap on Sunday evening, stark naked!
They’ve got their community centre and two great pubs, is this what passes for entertainment in Seend, or just in the Cleeve, I wonder, or was he just trying to keep warm?! More worryingly, could this become something of a trend? Are you contemplating a liberating naked roll in a muck heap anytime soon, and now you’re gutted because this guy beat you to it?! Provided it’s not a satanic worship sort of thing, we’d love to hear from you, after a shower, that is. This is Wiltshire street theatre gold.
After his solo romp in the steaming heap, Ms Plumb told the Facebook Seend Village Group, “he jumped in the car covered in it!” Probably made him late for work at county hall!
Noted residents didn’t recognise the vehicle sounds like an attempt to divert any media coverage from suggesting it’s exclusively a Seend kind of pastime to me, they’ve probably been at it for centuries! While Seend village is considered sophisticated, it’s those Cleeve lot you’ve got to watch out for! Some residents said they were glad they’ve spread theirs, others pointed out it’s where you find the best eggs!
“Keep an eye on your muck heaps,” is the worthy advice given, for who knows when or where this mysterious naked muck heap rolling prankster will strike next! What a mucky imp.
Still a tad fragile around the edges from my birthday party, here’s what’s I’ve struggled on through to find for this coming week, in which I was, last week, perhaps somewhat too optimistic about the coming of spring. Pass the Alka-Seltzers…….
As usual, further info and links to everything listed can be found on our ever-updating event guide, likely the most comprehensive thang of its kind around these backwaters because we go hunting rather than waiting for venues and creative types to contact us; they can be terribly unreliable! Therefore to take heed of other event guides will see you either staying in to watch Catchphrase or nipping to your village hall for karaoke with a drunkard called Gav!
Firstly, today, Monday 6thsees a live art demonstration with the wonderful Caroline LeBourgeois at Devizes Conservative Club, and the first of Nick Beere’s Open Mic sessions at The Lamb, Marlborough.
Around About Dusk night at The Bell in Bath too, with some sultry femme vocalists, and they’ve left the coolest till last; Rachel from up tempo swing conspiracy Gin Bowlers, but this claims to be a jazzy hazy acoustic drift through the roots of the blues; noice!
Tuesday 7th. Congrats to the campaigners for a new skatepark in Bradford-on-Avon, who’ve raised their target of £250,000, and invite people to come and see the new skatepark designs on Tuesday 7th March – 7pm at St Margaret’s Hall. If heaven is a halfpipe, you’re ye fundraising gods, well done!
Blood Brothers is at Wyvern Theatre, Swindon; on the GCSE drama silly-bus this is – have fun, kids of the Lavingtons!
Wednesday 8th Western Players’ caravan comedy Third Week in August is at Swindon Arts Centre.
Tongue-in-chee[k]se Bristolian musical internationalism, Fromage en Feu are at The Bell, Bath; sacré bleu!
Regular acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes, after a Dark Side of the Moon anniversary celebration.
Thursday 9th At Pound Arts, Corsham, find Rachel Newton, a singer and harpist who draws on poems and ballads that are hundreds of years old, working them into her contemporary compositional style to create a rich sound that is ambitious, original, and unique.
Mark Harrison plays The Tuppenny, Swindon, while The Vic has new wave alt-rock Men in Vests, with The Crystal Wolf Project, Adriana, Lee Knott and N/SH.
Friday 10th, here we go, getting fresh for the weekend…… folk singer-songwriter David Ford brings his tour to the Pump, Trowbridge. Cara Dillon plays Pound Arts, Corsham.
The Radio Makers at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, while The Sad Dad Club play The Boathouse.
Saints of Sin at The Vic, Swindon, ZambaLando at Fiesta de Cuba.
Folk Law at Chapel Arts, Bath.
Green Day tribute Warning play the Tree House in Frome with The Blink 182 Show, while Limehouse Lizzy play the Cheese & Grain.
Saturday 11th, got to be Editor’s Pick of the Week, when the Corn Exchange, Devizes hosts a Charity Concert for homeless charity, Devizes Opendoors. It features an incredible roster of Andrew Hurst, Chloe Jordan, and Will Blake with his PSG Choir. Tenner a ticket, to a wonderful charity, will be a lovely evening with a mahoosive raffle.
Staying in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre, tells the story of The Man Who Left the Titanic. White Star Line Managing Director J. Bruce Ismay stepped into a lifeboat and sailed away from the stricken ship, sailed away from his passengers, sailed away from the cries, and screams and tears. The Man Who Left The Titanic evokes that terrible voyage and asks whether Bruce Ismay only did what any of us might have done in the same circumstances, or should his actions that night consign his name to infamy? Was he a coward, or merely human?
New one on me, Rev plays The Three Crowns, Devizes, the Lightnin’ Hobos are at The Southgate, and DJ Karl Maggs is on the wheels of steel at the Exchange.
Psycho-Acoustic Coat, I’m hoping that speaks for itself! They’re at The Barge on Honey-Street.
Best of luck to the Lost Trades, touring their fantastic new album, they’re at Keevil Village Hall.
Marty’s Fake Family play The Pilot, Melksham, Junkyard Dogs at Chippenham & District Constitutional Club.
John D Relevator at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, while the Wiltshire Music Centre celebrates International Women’s Day with Bones Apart, a Wonder Women Family Concert.
Rorke’s Drift versus Black Rose at The Vic in Swindon.
Witchfest at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, with a witch’s market followed by Damh the Bard. Clash tribute, London Calling at The Tree House.
Sunday 12th sees My Science Fair at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, where the Gasoline Bandits play The Three Horseshoes. Matt Owens & Jason McNiff at The Bell, Bath.
Oops, Deb at The Southgate has let me know we left out Manos Puestas at 5pm at The Southgate, Devizes. Latin/Gypsy Jazz & Rumba to warm up your summer, and we have the power to update and add it, see?!
The Fureys at Wyvern Theatre, and Tom Houghton’s Absolute Shambles at Swindon Arts Centre.
Frome Symphony Orchestra at The Cheese & Grain.
Monday 13th, Westcountry acoustic blues with Stompin’ Dave & Lucy Piper at The Bell, Bath.
Macbeth at Swindon Arts Centre.
Tuesday 14th is Worsley Training’s Emergency First Aid at Work or Basic Life Support course at Devizes Town Hall.
Theatre director Andy Burden playing self-penned songs at The Bell, Bath, the Graham Dent Trio’s jazz night at il Fiume, Bradford-on-Avon.
Wednesday 15th and there’s Memory Cinema at Swindon Arts Centre, showing Dad’s Army.
Franz Nicolay & Aimless Arrows at The Pump in Trowbridge. Franz Nicolay is a musician and writer living in New York’s Hudson Valley. In addition to records under his own name, he was a member of cabaret-punk orchestra World/Inferno Friendship Society, “world’s best bar band” the Hold Steady, Balkan-jazz quartet Guignol, co-founded the composer-performer collective Anti-Social Music, was a touring member of agit-punks Against Me!
And there’s some world-folk into jazz, at The Bell, Bath with Solana.
And that’s your lot; unless you’ve forgotten to tell me something?! No secrets here, free listings too, all you gotta do is let us know; I’m not your mum, and can’t keep following you around picking up your lost socks.
Today’s protest at Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes over the appointment of PC Cheryl Knight into the rural crime unit despite being photographed riding with fox hunting associations, including the notorious Avon Vale Hunt, went peacefully.….
Devizes Police commended and thanked the protesters, “for the way that they conducted themselves.” Patronising is in the training manual.
The event passed peacefully, and no arrests were made. Online speculation there would be “trouble,” was unfounded; anti-hunting campaigners are passive by default. There are no grounds for claims made by PCC Philip Wilkinson, ousted by ITV for claiming to have “covertly” monitored sabs committing public order offences.
Organisers of the protest, Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs, say “for over eighteenth years hunts have been prolific in breaking the law, and doing so with both the implicit and explicit consent, support and even membership, of those with the power to do something about it. Wiltshire Police deployed over 50 officers and multiple resources to turn their cameras on sabs, as terriermen await dig out instructions from the Avon Vale Hunt behind them.”
Superintendent Conway Duncan said: “We know people want to make their voices heard and the right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate.”
“We had a presence at the event to do just that, but also as part of our responsibility to ensure the local community were not adversely impacted.”
We hope they will listen and assign officers accordingly rather than with clear conflicts of interests. Please sign the petition HERE.
Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs replied in a Tweet, “how dare they even consider themselves worthy of praising the protestors. Wiltshire police are by definition of their own criminality, beneath contempt. We do not praise the way they are conducting themselves over this sordid affair, nor the 18 years of them turning a blind eye.” Ah, but it’s do as we say, isn’t it? Not as we do!
Normally Wednesday, Song of The Week, but I was having one of those Wednesday days, you know the sort, too middley aren’t they, bit gloomy? Couldn’t find a recent single release, whinged about it on Facebook, no one helped, then remembered I had this beauty from Frome folk singer-songwriter Sara Vian, out last week. It’s called Brighter Days, and what could be a more perfect fit?
Save it on Spotify here, it features David Setterfield guitarist from Strange Folk, it’s very spring, wonderful.
You’ve got to award Gazette & Herald reporter Jason Hughes the journalism medal of bravery this week, for his dissemination on head of the Devizes Guardians, Jonathan Hunter’s mien concerning the tardiness of communication by Wiltshire Council over the current state of our roads!
The headline read “Devizes potholes cause misery for motorists, councillor claims.” Claims? Wha?! Does this guy get to go outside at playtime?! Has he seen the state of it out there? It’s like a lunar landscape after a flipping meteor shower! When Jules Verne wrote Journey to the Centre of the Earth, fittingly about volcanic tubes that reach the centre of the earth, he was inspired by Wiltshire’s roads; fact!
Honestly, honesty is a must here, let’s not get impassive on this breaking scoop; we all know the truth, we’ve known for some time, and hats off to town councillor Jonathan Hunter for digging the claws in.
“A road repairs promise was made two years ago,” he explained, “last week I wrote to Cllr Caroline Thomas on behalf of the residents of Devizes who face the reality of an appalling local road network. Cllr Thomas, has given a statement through the press but after a week I’m still waiting for a reply to my email, which apart from being unprofessional and rude, it signals that the cabinet members approach is not community first and shows a complete disregard for the residents of Devizes.”
I responded, “probably because she owns a Chelsea tractor,” with a little emoji of a tractor in hope to cheer him up! What can I say? I was under pressure and it was the best I could come up with at the time. But what can we do about it? Here’s Jonathan’s top four tips, which makes a terrible headline, because people love “top ten tips,” five, perhaps, Jonathan, but not four, no. Still, they’re good ones.
1. Continue to bombard WC using MyWilts the app, to report potholes. Whilst this system is very reactive it’s the best that they can offer.
2. Write to Cllr Thomas and share your concerns, I can’t guarantee that she will read or even reply but the more residents that express their concerns may make a difference. email@example.com
3. Please identify hazardous areas to your friends, neighbours or colleagues who are vulnerable. In particular, those with mobility difficulties.
4. At the 2025 Wiltshire Council unitary election remember the promises that were made in 2021 and the reality of how those promises have been implemented across your local road network.
“There are three areas of key concern in Devizes,” Jonathan told the Gazette, “London Road is the main road coming in and out and that isn’t great at all. Bath Road and also Windsor Drive, which is an interconnecting road, the surface degradation on those roads is really poor.” And continued to express his concern for damaged pavements reducing the accessibility and safety for vulnerable pedestrians.
After such, the article does give this press reply by Cllr Thomas, which goes thus: “The hot, dry summer of last year, and the very wet and very cold weather so far this winter has unfortunately created the perfect conditions for potholes to form across the 2,500-mile road network. We’re doing all we can to repair them, using all our skilled workforce and resources, with the priority being to make the road safe.”
Now, I did rant on this subject at the beginning of February, quoting Cabinet Member for Transport, Dr Mark McClelland’s axiomatic piffle direct from the council’s website, so let’s have a little game of spot the difference here: “The weather has provided the perfect conditions for potholes to form, and that’s why we’re seeing an increase in the number of road defects throughout the county.”
Uncanny, huh?! At least they’re singing off the same song sheet I suppose. Probably written on the wall at county hall, “just reword this weather-blaming twaddle if the press asks!”
Well, please accept my apologises, but I’m not the press, just the milky, the milky inspired by Stephen Mulhern of Catchphrase to “say what I see,” and with a tendency to do precisely that; it’s an abomination which so obviously could have been avoided with ongoing proactive maintenance, even Mr Chips can see it, and he’s a fictional yellow bollard with a clown’s nose, naked other than a cravat.
“The roads are very dangerous for all users,” Jonathan expressed his concern, “pothole repairs should just be an emergency fix to prevent a serious accident, they are not a permanent solution as the substance shrinks within the original road defect. Unfortunately, it would seem WC have adopted pothole repairs as their main strategy to improve crumbling roads with surface degradation. The lack of engagement is a poor show and speaks volumes.”
March on! Let’s say no more about the impending spring other than YES!!!! As you might be able to tell, I’m not a winter person. Here’s what we’ve found to be doing this coming week.…….
Find details and tickets links at ourevent calendar, and plan your month ahead. Watch out though, it’s always updating and more stuff is added all the time!
Wednesday 1st March, finds Harriet Burns’ ballads, bards and minstrels at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Wilson & Wakeman at Chapel Arts, Bath, and Spirit Of The Dance at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.
Regular acoustic night at The Southgate was amazing last week, just as they get everyone organised in a circle, another musician comes in the door! Happens every Wednesday.
Thursday 2nd and there’s this Wiltshire Council Devizes drop in event to update on work to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town at the Corn Exchange. I had a whinge about this the other day, read here. Good idea as it sounds, it’s on during the morning when the people it really affects will be at school or college. I really feel our younger generation should be included in this, if I’m honest.
Anyway, find Magical Bones at Swindon Arts Centre, Paul McClure & Black Sheep Apprentice at The Tuppenny. Over in Bath, Brooks Williams & Boo Hewerdine’s State of The Union is at Chapel Arts.
Friday 3rd and The Exchange club in Devizes has its second open mic night, some talent down there last time. Well done to Ian for sorting this out, and heard good things about it.
Soul Strutters play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, with Blazin’ Fiddles at the Wiltshire Music Centre.
Larkham & Hall feat: Charlie Rose at Chapel Arts, Bath, and the Shindig lot, always up for a party, have their Shimmy Discotheque with C’est Chic at Walcot House; squidgy house fun!
“ZambaLando” are live at Fiesta de Cuba in Swindon, where the Vic has Phantom Droid, Modern Evils and Froglord, and Sophie Duker’s Hag plays at Swindon Arts Centre.
Saturday 4thsees a Sustainable Devizes swap shop at St James Church.
Then, did I tell you about my 20th birthday?! Is it fair to make this Editor’s Pick of Week? Executive decision; ermm, let’s think, Ruzz Guitar, Talk in Code, Vince Bell, Deadlight Dance, Ben Borrill, yes, I think it’s perfectly fair!
Editor’s Pick of Week this week is the editor’s own inflated ego birthday bash at the Three Crowns, Devizes, but in fairness we have got free live music all day, where I’m hoping Ben will kick us off at around 4pm, and from there Vince is on at 5pm, Deadlight Dance at 6pm, Talk in Code at 7:30pm and Ruzz Guitar Trio from 9pm. Hopefully there will be some other guests, you are all welcome, bring cake. Note the pub is open as usual, this is NOT a private invite, you are welcome. Note, they serve food until 9pm, and it’s card-only at the bar, but bring some cash and we’ll have a whip round for the Devizes & District Opportunity Centre.
Over at the Wharf Theatre they’ve Olive Oatman for one night only, the story of an American woman celebrated in her time for her captivity and later release by Native Americans in the Mojave Desert region when she was a teenager.
Sad to have to miss Barrelhouse who play The Southgate. And DJ Stevie MC is at the Exchange.
Heading southwest, Triple JD Band play The Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, and Jason Rebello & Tim Garland’s Life to Life is presented at Wiltshire Music Centre.
The Saviours Collective at Chapel Arts, Bath.
Sour Apple are at The Phoenix, Wotton Bassett. A karaoke warm-up for the My Dad festival, My Dad’s Wackier Than Your Dad! at The Castle, Swindon, Will Lawton & the Alchemists at The Hop Inn, Just Floyd at The Vic, Homer at The Sun in Coate, Showaddywaddy at the Wyvern Theatre, Eshaan Akbar: The Pretender at Swindon Arts Centre, Swindon
There’s an intimate evening with Zion Train at the Tree House in Frome, with The Beat featuring Ranking Junior at The Cheese & Grain.
Sunday 5th Avebury Spiritual and Psychic Fayre at Avebury Sports & Social Club from 10:30-4pm, free entry.
At 5pm, if I’m still standing, I’m invading The Southgate for 5pm, for the regular monthly Jon Amor residency with Jim Crawford as guest of honour.
Talis Kimberly plays The Tuppenny in Swindon.
The awesome Junkyard Dogs are at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, while WYJO with Jason Rebello and Tim Garland play at Wiltshire Music Centre.
Monday 6th I’ve found nothing, but you know, it is Monday! Whoa there, Nellie: update, a brand new open mic session at The Lamb in Marlborough has been announced, first one Monday 6th at 8pm. Facebook group here.
Tuesday 7thBlood Brothers at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.
That’s your lot, have a great week and I hope to see you Saturday; you are permitted to buy me a pint, as long as it’s not semi-skimmed.
Looking forwards, you need to snap up a ticket for the Open Doors charity night at the Corn Exchange on Saturday 11th, support this great cause, and if you’ve never heard Chloe Jordan sing before you’re basically missing one of life’s most extraordinary occurrences.
Late November last year I took the Southgate’s landlady Deborah on her word, and it paid off; a word you should never doubt when it comes to bands booked. She told me Swindon ensemble SGO are “an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” On this chancer I dropped in and it was a pleasant surprise, such an apt band for the pub.
At the time I described it thus, “Brimful of sea shanties, hornpipe, parissienne and gypsy jazz, with subtle hints of Americana and country blues, SGO are both charming and accomplished. Melodically harmonising through geetars, fiddle and accordion, they reaffirm folk is the backbone to all modern musical genres, and launch preconceived notions of frumpiness within the modern scene out into the stratosphere.”
But hey, ain’t nobody got time to copy and paste anymore, you can read the full review HERE. All you need to know is, it was a brilliant gig, and now you don’t even need to take my word for it, if anyone ever does, because they’ve released it as a live album, Bandcamp download only. It’s one of those you listen back to and realise it wasn’t just a cider leakage in the brain, it really was as good as I recall. But if you didn’t attend here’s a taster of the Southgate at its best, for the recording contains the typical atmosphere and background noises, including George the pub dog, who seemed to approve.
Live is best for the rowdy pub folk of this kind, and this recording will put you right in the very spot of a most memorable gig, and if you attended or not, will ache you to catch them next time they’re around.
Roundabouts of Wiltshire, I usually just drive around them, that is, after all, their purpose. Saturday evening, I parked in the middle of that big one in Trowbridge; you know the one, all roads lead there, probably driven around it a thousand times. But I knew it was there and like the rest of my night, nothing came as a big surprise.….
Though to assume “unsurprised” conotes negative couldn’t be further from the truth. The carpark is for patrons of the town’s The Lamb, a handsome unassuming flagship Waddies, with a pump room aback converted into a music venue. Unsurprised by this because I’ve known about the Pump for years, sent reviewers there, plus every musican who’s played it speaks highly, and gasps in shock if I reply I’ve yet to frequent it.
Simple reason being gigs are more often than not on Fridays, unsuitable for my rota. But to pinch an idiom from Sheer Music promoter Kieran J Moore himself, which he often uses to describe a band he’s booked, The Pump is “punching above its weight” when it comes to local live music venues, casting off any ill-conceived notions Vegas is a cultural void, and affirming our county town on the UK’s grassroots venue map.
Sheer Music itself is a stamp of authenticity, your assurance of a quality gig, and here is its headquarters. KJM not in attendance tonight, but their Will Riker, Megan made the perfect host, with a joy impossible to hide spoke of their delight at the helm of the Pump; I’m equal in delight to have finally ventured here.
But it’s a triple-whammy of unsurprised delights, as headlining is the fantastically unique Will Lawton and the Alchemists, a raggle-taggle ensemble of skilled Chippenham, and Malmesbury musicans impossible to pigeonhole. On the strength of recommendations, our review of their latest EP Alchemy, and Will’s solo tracks he’s contriubted to our Julia’s House compilation, I was assuredly in good hands.
They were everything I imagined they would be, splashed with a touch more. Sublimely distinctive and individual, quirky and acomplished, the result was spellbinding musical alchemy (as it suggests on the tin,) the variety to force your eyes closed and dream abstract visual accompaniments but sqint at intervals to amaze yourself at just how they create it.
These original enchanted compositions are performed on keys by Will himself with poignant lead vocals, guitarist Ami Kaelyn with emotive side vocals akin to Pink Floyd’s Great Gig in the Sky, Buddy Fonzarelli on an eletric four-string upright bass and as witty as they come, sophisticated engine room drummer and live sample trigger Weasel Howlett, and classically trained, multi-instrumental Harki Popli usually adding an eastern flavour on tabla drums but unable to attend tonight.
There’s often psychological and astronomical themes to make Brian Cox’s toes curl, but it’s always with this drifting, beautiful ambience.
After the perfect ambience of their lengthy EP tracks, kicking off with the Bricks single, moving onto Dust, and earlier compositions like Soul Sneeze, they break them down with hilarious banter of equal skill. It’s avant-garde, only comparable with those who pushed musical boundaries for pushing musical boundaries; from Mozart to Flyod, Zeppelin to Giorgio Moroder, Scott Joplin to Scratch Perry, and I’ll give you King Tubby to A Guy Called Gerald as The Alchemists occasionally slip into idiosyncratic drum and bass with a breathtaking outcome. This is jazz, this is indie-folk, this bears hallmarks of classical, soul, psychedelia, of everything gone before and a hint at what’s to come.
If I get narked by Oasis being compared to the Beatles I retort they’re retrospective, the Beatles were progressive, and the Alchemists are far closer to what we could predict they’d be putting out today, to rinse the sincerity from Stevie Wonder’s parental pride anthem, Isn’t She Lovely, with a tune called Daughter, yes, it really is on this level.
But maintaining a down-to-earth charisma it’s warts and all, as if the music comes naturally and they’re in its playground. Similar could be said for the supporting act, as I did say this was a triple-whammy. With a forthcoming tour, they hid their identity with the anagram, Slotted Hearts, to perform a trial-and-error inaugural showcase of the new album, but like I also said, nothing came as a surprise as I teased Tamsin Quin, one third of the Lost Trades, that I sussed it because I’m good at anagrams. This was, of course, bullshit, I just noted they were attending via the Facebook event page!
And a wonderful set they were already in swing of upon my arrival, The Lost Trade’s second album is the perfect progression of their debut we reviewed a week ago. Our beloved vocal harmony modern-folk trio are going from strength-to-strength, destined for the deserved greatness they work so hard for. Their performance was as they said it would be, we were guinea pigs to replicating the album live, and if a few hitches were expectedly made, they were subtle at best. But humbly excusing themselves was unnecessary. If this was an insight into what’s to come, you need to be there when it goes off. It was a stunning performance, sublimely introduced, end of.
But it’s the informal setting, you see? The kind of safehouse where The Lost Trades can experiment, the kind of music appreciation society open to interpretation, with walls adorned with brass instruments and other random paraphernalia, wonky steps up to a seated balcony, and crossed beamed with an invition for appearing acts to graffiti their names upon. It’s quirky, non-pretenious, and exceptionally hospitable; it’s got my name all over it. A little haven of music I wished I’d trekked to a lot sooner, but I’ve done it now, and I’m not looking back.
Sellout gigs I hope will encourage them to open Saturdays more often, their programme chockful of selected delights, which, more often or not, are the upcoming named must-sees. The Pump’s collaboration with Sheer is a match made in heaven, and if your vision of heaven is a quirky backroom blessed with a plethora of our best musical activities, The Pump is the direction you need to be looking.
Through the ambient nature of Will Lawton, and the mellowness of The Trades, I take to wonder how lively post-punk bands like Carsick fair here, Megan confirmed they were stage diving like a moshpit, so aside this venue’s quaintness, diversity matches its brilliance.
Of course, today’s opinion rant comes from news Wiltshire Police have promoted officer Cheryl Knight to the rural crimes department despite allegedly being a member of the Beaufort Hunt and has previously ridden with the notorious Avon Vale Hunt. The public outrage of such has spawned a planned protest on 5th March at Devizes Police HQ….
It should hardly come as a shock to those who follow social media of anti-hunt groups like Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs, as we’ve seen many attempts by hunters to infiltrate the police, and video evidence of police deliberately being awkward with sabs by blocking paths and siding with hunters. Recently we’ve seen it with another hunt member PC, Laura Hughes who turned a blind eye when hunters attacked protesters at Lacock’s Boxing Day meet. And at top level, with former Avon Vale huntsmaster Jonathan Seed defunct from the PCC election and current PCC Phillip Wilkinson’s open derogatory remarks about anti-hunt protesters.
But if bent cops sounds like something from an American thriller movie, no one’s as bold to suggest all Wiltshire Police support hunting. It’s a huge organisation employing many, therefore fair to assume the bad eggs are a minority.
However, their official reaction to the outrage this news has caused, defending Cheryl Knight and warning protesters they will be “seeking independent guidance from other agencies to ensure the protest is in line with those peaceful and lawful requirements and to ensure the Devizes community is not adversely impacted,” borders retaliation to public outcry. Reading between the lines, anyone so much as sneezes at the protest and they’ll shut it down. Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs stressed to me, “that’s how we read it too. Well, if they want even more bad publicity…”
It causes me to ponder just how far this rabbit hole goes; how ingrained by the traditions of hunting is this in our society? You may not stop to consider it while watching a children’s cartoon with anthropomorphised characters whereby the fox is nearly always portrayed as a “baddie,” or dining in a local pub, where your dinner is served on a pictorial plate adorned with a scenic landscape and a fox hunt in progress, or similarly on a painting on the wall, but in this glorification of the blood sport, these connotations of the fox spelling trouble, is it our own psychological Colston statue?
“You cannot erase history,” gammonites remark of the statue debate, and I retort with “poppycock!” For historical references in literature will always be, but a statue glorifies and celebrates the slave trade, ergo, is counterproductive to progress against racial discrimination. Likewise, the paintings in the pub, the common pub name, The Fox and Hounds, should they be changed? They clearly idealise this barbaric pastime.
My ponderings stem from a Facebook thread this week, by Devizes Town Councillor Chris Greenwood, (yes, the one who blatantly lied about Defra confirming bird flu on the Crammer) on his own general local affairs group, Devizes News. In posting news of Cheryl Knight’s promotion, he stated, “this group will not tolerate any form of detrimental, nor hateful comments associated with this article. The officer concerned has done nothing illegal whatsoever, and their appointment has been with the full approval of Wiltshire Police. Any false accusations or comments will result in the person posting being excluded from the group.”
It was simply too tempting, and inadvertently my reply, “so, why post it then?” saw me promptly barred from the group, along with a handful of others. But seems the temptation was deliberate for no sooner as we were gone, he posted again, boasting, and celebrating, “it was time for a clearout of activists, bigots and those motivated by negativity.”
Quite where the negativity in opposing the promotion of a possible criminal within the governing body supposed to prevent crime is supposed to derive from will forever confound me. Alas, adjoining various comments like a jigsaw, Chris made in this thread might shed some light on why he, like so many others, are so pro-hunting. Unable to respond to one question given by a concerned so -called bigot, Chris took a trip on memory bliss, and waffled a random interminable history of his affection for horse riding. One might assume this was irrelevant, but further on when we were discussing the social media posts of lists of local companies alleged to be in support of the Avon Vale Hunt, he highlighted a sponsorship of a pony club. So, herein lies his justification for supporting hunting; Avon Vale sponsored the club where his fond memories of riding begun. Ergo, he’s reminiscence through rose-tinted specs is clouding his judgment to the reality it’s a bloodthirsty pursuit, and I’d wager is not alone in this view.
I could agree, horse riding is okay by me, but you don’t need to take a pack of bloodhounds along to bludgeon a fox to death to enjoy it, surely? Though I fear it will fall on deaf ears. Hunts have spent decades and countless fortunes I could only dream of, to ensure their brutal activities are ingrained so deep into our society, economy and way of life, the rose-tinted specs wearers will only ever view it as a harmless tradition, because they’re trained to by showers of gold sent their way and into charities and causes.
Ergo, when a clear conflict of interests invades our police, these folk shrug, and state the officer concerned has done nothing illegal. So, given innocent until proven guilty, we should ask Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs if they’ve any proof of the contrary. “Her main association seems to be the Beaufort,” Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs explained, “that is where most of her hunting images were taken. She also has photos of her at Avon Vale meet, and also photos of her attending beagle meets (hare hunts).”
Besides, the point isn’t whether she has, or hasn’t, the concern lies within her power to sway, ignore, or pervert the cause of justice in such matters she’s so clearly bias in. Does this mean the protest is focused entirely on her promotion, being it would seem there’s other pro-hunting officers?
“At this moment it’s focused on the fact that a fox hunter has been appointed,” they continued, “but I guess the wider issue is who appointed her – and the appalling response they gave. There are other serving officers that have hunted with the Avon vale, which we also oppose, but to be placed into a role like this, particularly in the middle of an investigation by her new team, into the Avon Vale video just is crass beyond belief. It’s a direct breach of the Code of Ethics which Wiltshire Police are refusing to address.”
We live now in the aftermath of the national media exposure of video evidence proving The Avon Vale Hunt illegally fox hunted, its impact is this undeniable proof you’d have thought would be a catalyst to change, but this latest outcry suggests otherwise.
All my meanderings seem to return to a same point, the point in the video where they successfully pulled the fox out from the dig and threw it to the hounds, and one young hunter shrieks with delight like a little girl getting a pony for Christmas! If hunting was to cull a pest, that’s clearly in past, there’s few foxes left in the countryside, and the shrill of delight reverbs the acknowledgement, is symbolic that this is done purely for fun, the thrill. You don’t see an insect exterminator cry with joy when he clears your home of ants!
So, if you support this in any way, do you deserve to be called out for it regardless of how little your association with the hunts may’ve been formed upon, excusable by ignorance to the notion they were definitely killing wildlife, until now?
Yet while many companies and organisations have found themselves having to publish statements attempting to defuse their association with Avon Vale, or hunting in general, Wiltshire Police seem none too fussed, rather promoting officer Cheryl Knight to the rural crime unit, and have defended their decision to maintain the PC in the role. Others listed, such as ice cream cafe, The Rowdey Cow were quick to announce their association was only to vendor at one of their events, and it’s not just because they make exceptional ice cream, I’m willing to forgive that(!) rather sigh, that’s just business.
The Rowdy Cow I trust has sufficient trade to do without the association now, and hope they do. The last thing anyone wishes by way of boycotting businesses loosely associated with the hunts, is to bring any more damage on our rural economy. Yet Wadworth’s only line of defence seemed to be their association was “historic.” Should we forgive that too, because of the passage of time? Our councillor Greenwood on his pro-hunting rant seemed to suggest this, that the images of Knight hunting was the stuff of ancient history, leading me to ponder how old is she? From recent photos she looks late twenties, so it could only have been after 2004, when the Hunting Act was introduced, not so long ago for us old-timers, Chris!
Forgiveness only ever seems to be when the boot fits. The public don’t seem too keen to forgive Shamima Begum anytime soon, but views Piers Morgan as this cheeky chappie with a penchant for a few offensive comments, rather than the bastard who wrecked a teenage girl’s murder inquiry by hacking her phone. He took personal monetary gain over the life of a child, for Heaven’s sake, but hey, he’s on the tele. I like to call this the “Jimmy Saville Effect,” he raised these incredible amounts of money for charity, so should he be forgiven for paedophilia, necrophilia, and whatever other sick fetishes he performed? Equally, should we forgive hunters if their hunting is all in the past?
I believe this is simply another desperate excuse from pro-hunting lobbies. It matters not if or when Knight hunted, only that she is in support of hunting. To suggest her affiliation with the hunt wouldn’t affect her ability to carry out the role of a rural crime officer is completely and utterly ludicrous. The public know this, it’s hardly rocket science, and the public have the right to voice their outrage at this poor decision. After all, we do pay for the police, they are governed by law, but paid for by the taxpayer. Wiltshire Police make many a statement about building a rapport with the public and how they “serve them,” surely this is the ideal opportunity to prove this ethos right?
But it’s a small piece of a larger puzzle. Akin to the suffragette movement, anti-hunting will look blindly obvious to future generations if we can wash away this ingrained perception. The police’s involvement in watching over so-called trail hunts will be viewed as the massive waste of resources they clearly are, for if hunt organisations cannot be trusted the only solution is to ban them, and eradicate this insane affiliation to blood sports once and for all.
So, to people who share Chris Greenwood’s obsolete and atrocious opinions and see fit to censor opposing views, I say you’re foolish to think you can silence me. Not one to boast stats, but Devizine is read by the number of members in your petty group times a thousand. In a media war you’re the Gassworks Gang and I’m the American military! Accept the majority are anti-hunt, and will share this beyond way Facebook, until its long out of my control, folk will rightfully gather to sound their disgust at this barbaric activity, and the authorities which permit it to continue despite the indisputable evidence.
Their days are numbered, if we throw off our ingrained bigotry and accept it, that is quite possible. It wouldn’t hurt to show your humane side. And in saying that, no one wishes to send Cheryl Knight to the stocks, only to advise she is moved to a department free from her bias. So patently obvious it’s staring everyone in face and making them angry enough to have to spell it out by reacting on offensive social media posts, with disregards to the idea they’ll be futility chastised by a power-tripping would-be tinpot dictator! Knockers I say unto thee, Devizes News indeed, the bastard son of GB News?! Lest we forget come local election time.
It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of the Week time…. I’m just amazed with myself that I’ve actually committed to this new regular feature for a whole month, incredible!
This week, it’s post-punk eighties alternative/goth duo Deadlight Dance. Tim Emery and Nick Fletcher are a rekindled two-fifths of a Marlborough’s St Johns six form band and released a debut single this week, Missives from the Sisters.
Out on Ray Records, a debut single from a forthcoming album Beyond Reverence, due later this the year. This sullenly emotive tune of darkwave rings alarms for a reawakening of the gothic rock genre, once emblematic of Marlborough. I was just 14 when I moved there from Essex, it was a culture shock as we didn’t have goths in the motherland of shopping and stilettos, doubt we even had black hair dye, but I quickly realised the importance of liking the Cure, if I wanted to snog any girls!
Recorded at Nick Beere’s Chisldon studio, Mooncalf, the duo play The Crown in Aldbourne tomorrow (23rd Feb,) and The Plough in Shalbourne on Saturday March 4th, after dropping in for a 6pm-ish slot at my birthday party down the Three Crowns, Devizes….I’ve told you about my birthday, haven’t I? It’s okay, if you come too, I pinky promise not to try and snog you!