REVIEW – Gigspanner @ Pound Arts Centre, Corsham – Tuesday 29th November 2022

A Night Of Extreme Violins

Andy Fawthrop

Yes, I know it’s not in Devizes, but it’s pretty darned close.  And it was definitely worth the trip out on a grim Tuesday night when nothing else was happening.  Folk or football?  Well, as Bill Shankly never actually said, this gig was far more important than mere life-or-death on a soccer field.

Gigspanner, if you don’t know, is now the full-time musical project of ex-Steeleye Span’s violin genius, Peter Knight.  Having gradually become slightly exasperated with the repetitive nature of Steeleye’s musical repertoire, despite the occasional new album, Peter left in order to pursue his own musical interests.  And boy has he done that in spades over the past ten years or so.  His trio, including guitar and technical wizard Roger Flack, and percussionist Sacha Trochet, has become legendary in folk (and other) circles for their ground-breaking exploration of musical forms, pushing the basics of folk way, way beyond previous known limits.

The Pound Arts Centre was absolutely packed last night, with every ticket having sold some time ago.  They’d managed to squeeze in two extra rows of seats at the front, and so it was that 120 of us welcomed these wonderful musicians to the stage.  Given the depth of applause, I’d guess that most of them were already big fans of the band and knew what was coming up.  And what came up was absolutely superb.  Building on the basic building blocks of a few “traditional” folk songs and tunes (She Moved Through The Fair, The Constant Lovers, The Bows of London and The Hard Times of Old England), the band built these foundations into something quite spectacular.  They moved these pieces far beyond the normal, extemporising and exploring as they went, and produced some spell-binding passages of music.  It was fascinating, it was beautiful, and it was utterly captivating.  Using violin, guitars, pedals, effects, and a range of percussion, the three of them wove some amazing musical patterns.  It’s absolutely unlike stuff you’ll hear anywhere else, and played live on stage right in front of you, it’s completely gob-smackingly good.  But there was even more.  Not content with re-defining what constitutes live “folk” music, there were some new musical journeys based on Peter’s own contemporary song/ tune-writing skills such as Seagull, Butterfly and (a collaboration with the late Terry Pratchett) I Will Wear Midnight.

And, as ever, there was laconic commentary and dry humour from Peter as he introduced each piece, followed by one of my favourite pieces of live musical “theatre” in a piece they’ve been playing from the earliest days called Louisiana Flack.  In this party piece, and without the aid of a safety net, Peter plays a very fast fiddle piece, whilst Roger takes up a pair of drumsticks and simultaneously taps out a complementary beat/ tune across the neck and fingerboard, hopefully avoiding Peter’s fingers.  Just watching these two consummate musicians pull this trick off is one of those breath-holding moments where you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing.  And it came off superbly, demonstrating the complete level of trust that these two musicians have for each other.  Truly amazing.

Altogether we got two good hour-long sets, which seemed to pass in but a few moments, and an outstanding ten-minute long encore of The Faerie King.  With only occasional lyrics (Peter’s singing voice isn’t why you go to see him), it was one very, very large helping of superbly played and presented music. It might have been based on “folk”, but what we heard would actually defy genre or mere pigeon-holing.  What you need to know is that it was very, very, very good.

Last night was, as it happened, the last night of the trio’s current UK tour, but it’s not all over.  The never-resting Peter Knight is starting a two-week tour on Saturday with John Spiers, then next year it’ll be back to all the other projects in his life – The Gigspanner Big Band (with Philip Henry and Hannah Martin aka Edgelarks), collaborations with other musicians, Feast of Fiddles, as well as his teaching master-classes, composing and recording.  The man never stops.  No wonder he continues to draw plaudits from the musical press and to win so many music awards.  This man is definitely not, as he self-deprecatingly describes himself, “a fool with a fiddle”.

Chatting with a clearly delighted band after the gig, they told me how much they loved playing The Pound.  CDs were selling like hot cakes, the audience had been great, and it’s such a lovely, friendly venue. They always get treated like royalty (not you Andrew!), so I’m pretty sure they’ll be pencilling in another date sometime next year.  And if they do, then you owe it to yourself to get a ticket and go – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Their future gigs are listed on www.gigspanner.com/ which includes dates in Swindon and Bristol next February.  And there’s lots of info on their other projects, such as Saltlines, too.

And, finally, just a word about The Pound Arts Centre.  It’s a cracking little venue, now back in full action, with a complete programme of events across drama, film, music, comedy, children’s activities, art exhibitions, workshops, and classes.  It also has an excellent café & bar just off the foyer.  You’ll have to look on their website for future music artists and online ticket information at www.poundarts.org.uk but (for example), they’ve got Jonny Coppin’s Christmas Show, Bowjangles, Sandi Thom, and John Kirkpatrick, all of them before Christmas.  They show modern films and often carry live telecasts of live performances from London venues.  If you’ve not been over there, it’s definitely worth checking out.


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Devizes Carnival Returning to Traditional Date

Something I’m personally impartial about, though DOCA’s carnival consultation flagged it as a major issue for many, the recent date changes of carnival is set to be returned to the original date.…..

Announced this evening, DOCA said, “based on what we’ve heard, we have made the decision to move the Carnival back to the traditional date, the first weekend of September.”

Confetti Battle and the Colour Rush will remain on a Saturday, DOCA suggesting it’s “been a welcome change overall,” and will be set two weekends prior to Carnival. This will create the “Carnival Fortnight,” as it was before, alongside some fringe events of entertainment in collaboration with local businesses. The International Street Fair will stay in early summer.

The key dates for next year look at little something like this:

International Street Fair – 27th & 28th May

Picnic in the Park – 18th June

Colour Rush & Confetti Battle – 19th August

Carnival Parade – 2nd September

Hummm, summer; I’m there already!


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Illingworth Celebrate Their 100th Gig!

Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.

Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”

He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”

We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.

To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.

Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”

Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”

With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!

Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 30th November – 6th December 2022

No point in amending your bad behaviour now, far too late; you’ve got to have been good all year round to get on the good list. So, may as well carry on as usual, as this week sees us in the wintery but festive season. Are you ready, excited? Here’s our rundown of stuff to do this coming week in our local province, walking in the winter Wiltshire….

Details and Links, and for planning ahead, check our event calendar.


Last day of November then, tomorrow; Wednesday 30th, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Doric String Quartet at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.


Starting Thursday 1st December on The Little Green, Devizes and running until Christmas Eve, Sustainable Devizes have the Advent{ure} Reuse Christmas, where you can be part of a living Advent Calendar! Create a scene or event for one evening during advent on a Christmas story or theme, to be displayed/performed for all to enjoy, and so many organisations have contributed to this. More HERE.

Meanwhile, Sarah McQuaid plays The Pump, Trowbridge, Martin Harley at Chapel Arts, Bath, The Bob Porter Project at The Beehive, Swindon, and UK’s hottest drag act, Holly Stars presents their first solo show Justice for Holly, at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Friday 2nd December, Sour Apple play The Pelican, Devizes, B-Sydes at The Pump, Trowbridge, Train to Skaville at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon. There’s also an evening of acoustic country with the Alan West Band at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Every Friday night from now until Christmas is Christmas Party night at the Exchange nightclub in Devizes, doors at 10pm, free entry before 11.

Shows include Through the Decades with Roy & Buddy at Melksham Assembly Hall, and Stardust: A Musical Journey at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Pink Mac play The Vic in Swindon, while Bone Chapel take The Beehive.

Oas-is tribute at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while L1nkn P4rk tribute at the Tree House, and for want of an originals band in Frome on Friday, the incredible 41 Fords play The Sun Inn.


Saturday 3rd, and Devizes Lions have their Christmas Fair at the Corn Exchange, from 9am-2pm. The Churchill Arms, West Lavington also have a Christmas Fayre, from 2-5pm. Regular Lego Club at Chippenham Library from 3-4pm. And I’m sure there’s Christmas fairs going off all over the place, but it’s a daunting task keeping up with all of that!

Onto music, and our Phil Cooper plays The Southgate, Devizes, Alex Roberts is at The Barge on Honey Street. Grant Sharkey plays The Pump, Trowbridge, while Triple JD are at the Old Road Tavern, Chippenham. The Ultimate ABBA Tribute play The Consti Club, Chippenham.

St Marys, Marlborough host the Marlborough Concert Orchestra Winter Concert, and Barrelhouse on their home-turf at The Lamb. Meanwhile, in Swindon, Oasish & Stereotonics play The Vic.

Westwards leading and it’s a Boot Hill All Stars pilgrimage to The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Oye Santana at Chapel Arts, Bath, while DJ Dave Pearce presents Dance Anthems at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, and Billy in the Lowground take The Tree House.


Sunday 4th, Seend Community Centre has a Christmas Concert in aid of Alzheimer’s Support, and the Wessex Concert Orchestra play a Winter Concert at Devizes Town Hall.

Trowbridge Philharmonic Choir at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, and an ultimate Christmas party for the little ones at Meca, Swindon called Calling all Elves.

It’s not a massive weekend for live music, the build up to the festive period, but if in Bath on Sunday, it must be an afternoon session at The Electric Bar, where you’ll find Concrete Prairie live in session.

And that’s all folks, have a good weekend. Please do send me some details of your Christmas events, and especially New Year’s Eve, which is looking unusually bare on our calendar this year.


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Mighty Mighty; The Scribes Storm the Muck!

Another fantabulous evening at Devizes’ tropical holiday resort, The Muck and Dunder rum bar, where Bristol’s boom bap trio I’ve been hailing since day dot, The Scribes, came, saw, matchlessly interacted with the audience, and tore the place down with a riotous show of incredible skill and talent; secretly, it was foreseeable months ago……

Again, straw hats off to the Muck, just like previous evenings with the Allergies, Jimmy Needles and recently the BBC Introducing showcase, it’s the like we don’t usually see in our humble market town. Something I’ve been excited about before even leaking the scoop, hyping up here till the cows come home, and still, it exceeded my expectations. It did so with one most important element; Devizes showed their respect loud and proud, attending in full force for this sell-out show, and made me honoured to illustrate what I’d hitherto promised to frontman Ill Literate, and even his dad, Literate senior(!); this is our hometown, it punches well above its weight in knowing how to party.

For if there are others of this calibre currently on the UK hip hop scene, I’m unaware of them. The Scribes, I find no quarrel in dubbing “our Tribe Called Quest,” for the similar way they can lyrically interchange and bounce off each other, extend their presence further afield from the niche. They’re about spreading their love of hip hop and rap, using an exuberant and carefree east coast old school ethos, blended with contemporary rap techniques, blessing new audiences with what they’ve got, and aside their addictive and inimitable style, they’re having a heap of fun doing it. Just don’t do like I did, and try to capture a snap of them, they move about like Michael McIntyre on fast-forward!

Tunes played out were tricky to pinpoint, not while jigging and balancing my pina colada! Undoubtedly, they dipped into the vitrine of their latest EP, a forthcoming second in the series of the Totem Trilogy, and I did pick out my dub-inspired favourite, Mighty Mighty. Yet in rap no tune is ever precisely replicated, making an improv live show different every time. What was a highlight of the miscellany was the Doug E Fresh moments of drafting in the single-most amazing beatboxer this side of Barnard Star, which if you’ve never seen the like of in good ol’ Devizes before, it’s equally unlikely you’ve seen the like of anywhere before, if you catch my drift?! What? I’ve had rum!

With the upmost respect for the influence Mel Bush left on Devizes, the legendary promoter who bought Thin Lizzy to the Corn Exchange, I find it fascinating the same year he did, 1973, across the ocean in a Bronx block-party, Kool Herc isolated percussion “breaks” by switching between two turntables via a mixer, to prolong the beat of the track. Yet to many here, what he fashioned that night is still regarded as new-fangled!

Albeit progress out of the ghettos of New York for hip hop was sluggish, at best not arriving on our shores until a decade later, hip hop culture is no new thing. So, while this legacy for electric blues and prog-rock is still felt today, through the likes of Jon Amor, who plays the Southgate this afternoon, Innes Sibun and whenever Robin Davey returns, and this marks a blessing on our music scene which I fully appreciate, rum bar The Muck and Dunder aim for diversity, for daring to present dance, club, and hip hop, perhaps reaching out to the twenty and thirty-somethings wanting more than a standard nightclub. And for this, providing they’ll accommodate my aging sorry existence, I cannot thank them enough!

For me, you see, I loved it since a nipper; the cuts of Grandmaster Flash, the moves of the Rock Steady Crew, the subway graffiti, and right through to Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, so I believe I’m conversant on the subject to assess the Scribes are the freshest on the block, and I’m glad we showed them what we’re worth in Devizes. Because, here’s my final point, and I feel it’s the most important one, at least in destroying an ill-conceived misconception about the genre which The Scribes highlight with bells on. And that is, the pretentiousness, the bling, guns, and chip on the shoulder stereotype is a product of commercialisation, and is more often than not, an unwelcomed division.

The Scribes circumnavigated the good ship Muck & Dunder prior to the hoedown, chatting enthusiastically with all. To talk with Ill Literate is to find a kindly fellow with definite goals, a positive agenda, and ardent in the direction he needs to take this. Take his recent solo EP, The Shipwreck as a prime example; here’s a rap record on the level of concept album, akin to prog-rock, with a conscious narrative flowing throughout. This isn’t just rapping to make a noise, this is dedicated writing and production, though on a night like last night at the Muck, it’s also about appeasing the crowd, which they did, sublimely. I walked home in the pissing rain, smiling all the way.


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

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

Dr John Otway Rocks Trowbridge’s Pump

By Lorraine Briggs

The last time Otway played Trowbridge was in July 2003 at the Village Pump Festival, he returned last night to a gig to raise funds for the same festival in 2023; and what a show it was! Earlier this year Otway played his 5,000th gig at the Empire Shepherds Bush; and his wealth of experience was evident as he masterfully took the audience on a journey of music and laughter……

Recently awarded a doctorate in music, Dr John healed the sell-out audiences’ woes with his madcap antics and deceptively clever lyrics; delighting loyal fans and virgins alike.

As per his live album, ‘The Set Remains the Same,’ there were few changes to either of the two sets except a dedication of ‘Louisa on a Horse’ to his long-term friend and fellow performer Wilko Johnson, who sadly passed away earlier this week.  During this number Otway’s exuberant performance caused the pliable stage to wobble and an amp to tilt forward.  Whilst this was duly saved by Deadly the Roadie before any real damage was done; I smiled to myself that Wilko had also given it a nudge and was chuckling with us.

One of the best parts for me about Otway’s solo shows are the expressions on the audiences’ faces, especially those who are new to the party, as he progresses through the first set with the immortal words “Well if you thought that was stupid, wait until the next song!” and closes it with “You’ll probably need a drink after this, I know that I will!”  From a 12 string guitar that’s hinged in the middle to a human drum machine, Otway certainly knows how to hold the attention of the crowd.

The second set was just as fun, the crowd joined in with the heckling to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ with gusto, and contrastingly Deadly’s lack lustre disco dancing to Otway’s top ten hit ‘Bunsen Burner’ went down a storm.  All good things must come to an end and inevitably it did; finishing with two encores ‘Cheryl’ and ‘Head Butts,’ encouraged by a zealous audience.

For future gigs at The Pump, click HERE.


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DOCA Step into Christmas!

As sparkly as Elton John at his most sparkliest, Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts pulled the tinsel out of bag for the annual Winter Festival yesterday evening, leaving no niggles for a ‘review’ here, as such, just saying, and besides, if you live in or around Devizes, you were likely there anyway!

Edited out of my chat with one half of the new management team, Annabel, a few months ago, was the part where I described partaking in a lantern parade of yore, when the nippers were nippier and I was lesser of grey hair. It was met with a torrential storm, after we’d walked from St Johns, the lantern collection point, to the starting blocks at the Wharf. After a lengthly wait, while professional lantern makers gasconaded and kids became tiresome already, we marched on, around the entire town, arriving in the Market Place like war-torn soldiers. We carried freezing slain underarm, tired toddlers unable to stay concious and victims of gale forces gallantry still waving a bare stick in the air, of where a lantern once stood, only because it was frozen to their hand!

Okay, please allow slight exaggeration for artistic licence, but it was a trek even for the able-bodied. If the route these days is far more suitable, just a loop around the Market Place via Long Street and returning along the High Street, it was about the only change made, opting for all the custom aspects of the occasion; should keep the traditionalists content!

Except Devizes Town Council seemed to not warrant inviting Father Christmas to make for the high ground to make the light switch, as is tradition and a grand element of excitement for the little people, which was a shame. Otherwise, everything was in place for a wonderful time, this mild November evening.

The few art installations were aside the usual routes, so not trying the event to be akin to street festival, it was left to Devizes Town Band to entertain, under the memorial, which they did, kicking off with Hark the Herald Angel Sing; yep, definitely in the Christmassy mood now!

Devizes Young Farmers parked their tractors, adorned with fairy lights and tinsel, ahead of their Tinsel Run on Sunday 18th, a newer event by comparison, but over the last couple of years, fast also becoming a tradition. I’m unsure if they’ll keep all those lights on and flashing until the 18th, while working the fields, or if they take them all off again until the big day.

From the bustling Shambles to the Market Place crowds gathered, a variety of stalls, a great selection of tucker, and a busy craft fair in the Corn Exchange, coupled with the ever-fantastic lantern parade, which, once gathered the tree lights go on and the finale of fireworks commence. It’s the working method Devizes has seen in the season with for decades, and it made no sense to alter it; if it’s not broken…… congratulations again, DOCA, a super evening was had.


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Devizes First Ever Life-Size Advent Calender

For the first time, Devizes will have its own life-size interactive Advent Calendar starting from the 1st of December. Devizes Adventure is a community event to bring our town together as we approach Christmas….

Each night throughout Advent, Devizes Adventure will be on the Little Green, where the calendar’s doors will open for one hour to reveal a different festive and fun display each day.

With 24 days of Advent there are 24 different groups involved, including local schools, charities, arts organisations, churches, families, and The British Lion pub! The ‘Christmas Stories’ theme chosen for this year’s Adventure allows each of the groups to give their own creative take on the Christmas stories we all know and love.

Each night will be a unique creative event – some nights the Devizes Adventure doors will open to live music, on other nights it may be storytelling, drama, a creative workshop with things to make and take home, or a fantastic display.

If you pick up a Devizes Adventure flyer at the event, or bring the one delivered to your home, and have it stamped each night you attend, those who come along to the most will be entered into a draw to win a gift just in time for Christmas.

The idea – inspired by the hugely successful Brighton beach hut advent calendar – is the brainchild of a group of volunteers.

Rev. Richard Saint of St James’s Church, one of the organisers, said: “It’s intended to be a really fantastic, creative event – by the community for the community – and a lovely way to bring people together on the journey to Christmas. It’s definitely one for every age, and especially for children, who’ll love each new life-size Advent display and collecting the stamps.”

Devizes Adventure will open its doors from 5:30-6:30pm each night on the Little Green from December 1st until the doors finally close at 6:30pm on December 24th.


List of Participating Groups



1st – Bishops Cannings School

2nd – Sustainable Devizes

3rd – Devizes 6th Scout Group

4th – Christingle

5th – Featherbrook Connect Group

6th – Wiltshire Police

7th – 10:10 Youth Group

8th – Oliver’s Connect Group

9th – Lighthouse Youth Group

10th – The Journey Group

11th – Remembering & Thanksgiving

12th – Sibson’s Connect Group

13th – DOCA

14th – Trinity School

15th – Big Sound! Community Choir

16th – The MacDonald Family

17th – Southbroom St James School

18th – Home for Good

19th – St Andrew’s Church

20th – Hope for Justice

21st – Sheep Street Baptist Church

22nd – Jones’ Connect Group

23rd – The British Lion

24th – St James Church


Unemployment is a Choice, Says Wiltshire PCC Phillip Wilkinson

You’ve got to love social media for its provision into the ethics of those in positions of power. It’s beggar’s belief why no-one in the White House office monitered Trump’s flutters on Twitter, let alone attempted to stop him.

Similarly, while this thread on the Facebook page of Wiltshire Police Crime Comissioner, Phillip Wilkinson, begun on the rightful topic of tackling knife crime, it quickly became a little frosted window into the psyche and ethos of our PCC, who, to a response suggesting rising crime rates and employment satisfaction are related, stated “people need to work to earn a wage which over 5 million have decided not to do.”

With a tendency to say what he sees on his official Facebook page, Phillip Wilkinson might fair well on TV’s Catchphrase, but in a position of power such as PCC, is this really a responsible reply to a simple notion? That’s not to suggest I believe everyone currently out of work is striving to regain employment, and will be the first to agree there’s a debatable number bucking the system (like many politicians evidently are too, only far worse), but if current unemployment numbers sit at 5.3 million, just where did Wilko pull the statistic that 96% of them made a premeditated choice to be out of work?

One has to ponder if this is an extremely bad choice of wording on his part, or if he really believes the vast majority of unemployed choose to be unemployed, for the latter option sounding most probable is, quite honestly, a grossly misinformed, shameful and thoroughly irresponsible attitude.

I find myself wondering if he has the foggiest notion just how frustrating and demoralising being out of work is, for the majority out of work, if he’s stopped to contemplate how damaging his comment is, and if, admist his pomposity, he really gives a hoot.

Fact is, a massive majority out of work are not so because of a concious decision not to, rather cannot work due to mental or physical illness, redundancy or being laid off, or social situations such as single parents without skills or experience to obtain a salary able to cover childcare costs. Anyone with any basic understanding of how real life works already knows this, you’d have thought?!

There’s even a great number of them unable to gain employment after being mentally or physically injured serving in the forces, which he so proudly parades his own record in; whatever happened to the “nemo resideo” ethos of solidarity in the armed forces?

But more concerning is it’s a fact surely garnished with bittersweet hypocrisy that the very political party Phillip Wilkinson aligns to are responsible for such poor conditions and economic decline rendering the situation far worse than it need be. Shut the front door in the face of shallowness!

Someone draw a map of logic for the chap, and manoeuvre some tanks of reason across it in a manner he might comprehend; dole, job seeker’s allowance, tax credits, whatever the latest name a government office human resources team spent serveral conferences deciding to call it, is a safety net, because no one’s job is 100% safe. Anyone can find themselves out of work, from their factory closing to their business in negative equity, and everyone who worked paid for that safety net, it is our money, we put in to build it.

Still, it’s the negative stereotyping and arrogant attitudes of odious individuals like this which projects the concept one should feel honoured for the ability to take any of this back, one should feel ashamed to have to sign on, and this turns the coggs of a vicious circle in the demoralising the very being of unemployment.

Far from me lobbing a random opinion for the sake of mocking a tory, I’ve felt it myself, been there. I’m speaking from experience and with an open heart. What the Wiltshire PCC expresses here is openly and unashamedly prejudice against the unwell, the sick and disabled, not least the poor or homeless, and coming from a man responsible for our policing, it’s also throughly concerning.

To Mr Wilkinson I ask if he realises people retain their morals when not working, their emotions too, and doesn’t abuse his position to highlight his wonky and, frankly, disgusting opinions.

Devizine Podcast Pilot!

Okay, so, everyone is doing a podcast these days, and I’m a sucker which finds it impossible to go against the grain. Here’s my pathetic attempt at comedy, interspliced with some great, mostly locally sourced tunes…… enjoy as best you can, there’s no guilt in not listening, because if you don’t, you’re the sensible one!

Do not fear, it’s under an hour and half, anymore and I worry for your sanity. But, if I’m honest, I’m a smidgen worried how this is going to go down, being new to all this, so any feedback I might even yet take heed of! Please note, though, this is adult show, with adult material, which some listeners may find offensive.

Any more than one piece of positive feedback and I might be persuaded to make it monthly thing, already got a number of local Christmassy songs for a seasonal special next time; you have been warned!

As I said in it, I’d really like a jingle, if some musical friends have the time to record a quick ditty and send it in, that’d be awesome. Something which really clarifies just how crap it is, would be nice!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 22nd – 29th November 2022

Heads down for the last week of November, and there’s so much to get through. As usual, links and details to all events mentioned here are listed on our event calendar HERE, so check it out, as it may yet be updated before the week is through.

The observant among us (I’m told there are some!) will notice I’m deleting past dates now, so today’s date will show at the top of the calendar, hopefully making it easier to follow. I’m looking at better ways to present this info, but to be honest, Google calendars are impractical for storing the vast amount of info we have here, and the site is restricting on what we can do. I’m working on it but finding a method which is easy and quick to put up the information and equally user-friendly is tricky.

Anyway, lots to get through… Tuesday, I got nothing, the regular acoustic jam night down The Southgate Devizes on Wednesdays, and on this Wednesday, 23rd, Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Matt Deighton plays The Tree House, Frome and there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop starting at Salisbury Arts Centre, running until 30th.


To be honest, there’s so many craft fayres and Christmas events happening it’s impossible to keep track and also keep sane! Do look out for them on your local social media groups.

On Thursday 24th Milton Jones brings his Milton Impossible tour to the Cheese & Grain. There’s open mic at Stallards, Trowbridge, while their town hall has The I’s Have It, a pre-Christmas celebration of Italian and Irish, with music from Luca Rossi and Ruairi Glasheen, plus a delicious three-course Italian feast.

With the theme ‘Cold Weather, Warm Hearts’ the week ends with DOCA in Devizes, starting Thursday Devizes Window Wanderland 2022 will be go! DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Anyone with a window can create a display, but you should have registered for this already. All the public now need is the interactive map of Devizes highlighting all the different window locations.


And onto Friday 25th, the Devizes Winter Parade will light up the town, need I say more? Only to wish all the DOCA volunteers the very best, and Annabel and Ashley especially for their maiden voyage at the helm! There’s been a few social media posts about what to expect, such as the Celestial Sound Cloud; an interactive sound art installation from Pif-Paf Theatre, to be installed in the grounds of St. John’s on Friday and Saturday. They all look breath-taking, and the Shambles will be open late for shopping, and all this is leading me to believe this is going to be the most memorable one yet. Lanterns assemble!

Atop of this, The Pelican holds a Christmas Lantern Parade Festive Karaoke Party, and it might be your last chance to catch the highly recommended People Like Us before Christmas; they’ll be at the Three Crowns, Devizes; tidy!

Elsewhere on Friday, John Otway plays the Pump, Trowbridge. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment presents The Moon Hares at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, and Matt Owens & The Delusional Vanity Project play out their album “Beer For The Horses” at its launch at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Fossil Fools play The Vic, Swindon, while Fort Boyard & SexJazz do the The Rolleston, and its soul night at Meca, with an evening called Lost in Music.

Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s Friday done.


Saturday 26th is big, and it’s not just Lego Club from 3-4pm at Chippenham Museum! Winter Festival in Devizes continues, plus…….

I believe they’ve sold out now at SoupChick, who hold their second feast in the Shambles, Light of Kashmir promises to be beguiling, exclusive evening celebrating Kashmiri Cuisine and Couture, hosted by Angela Cave of The Parrot Cage and Anya Toropov of Soupchick. I attended the first one of these fabulous feasts, my tastebuds are still loving me for it. I am so sorry to miss out, but I will be at our Editor’s Pick of The Week!

Editor’s Pick of the Week: The Sribes at the Muck & Dunder

Despite Friday’s Lantern Parade, which should in most reasoning be my pick of the week, I’m certain there will the entire population of the Devizes area attending, ergo there’s no need to plug it anymore. No, what I’m talking about is the evening at the Muck & Dunder Rum Bar in Devizes I’ve been waiting for an age for, when hip hop sensations The Scribes bring boom bap to town; this, I tell you now, will go off. Tickets are running low, get in now, they’re only a fiver, and I hope to see you there, with one hand in the air! I did a poster for it, but they didn’t use it, I thought it quite good, and being they’ve not done another poster for it, I’m using to highlight it here, but you should note, it’s not the official poster!

Rockport play The Southgate, Pink Mac at the Barge, Honey-Street, Chaos Brothers at the Lamb, Marlborough. Melksham Rock N Roll Club have The Delray Rockets, and there’s the 20 Things for 20 Years Big Ball at Spencer’s Club.

Oh, and don’t forget The Toy Pig Race at Erlestoke Golf Course, which sounds too much fun for me!

The Moscow Drug Club, another disappointed missed gig for me after reading Andy’s superb review when they came to Devizes Arts Festival; they play the Pump, Trowbridge. Meanwhile find The Reservoir Hogs at The Wiltshire Yeoman, on Chalk Road.

Lonely Road Band play Colerne Liberal Club, Alter Eagles at Chapel Arts, Bath. Also in Bath, the interactive Alice in Wonderland Experience begins. Calan at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, also there, Bath Camerate presents Mother & Child.

In Swindon, there’s a Sahara Trek Fundraiser for Prospect Hospice with Slagerij, Death is a Girl, and Buswell & Nyberg, plus DJ Dust at Level III, while State of Quo play The Vic; they might be a tribute act, but I’m not certain of whom!!

Panto time, of course, Wharf Theatre announced they’ve sold out for Little Red Riding Hood, though we may yet be able to bring you a review of the night. So, find Cinderella starting at Salisbury Playhouse, opening Saturday, and running until January 23rd. Staying in the Spire, The Spitfire Sisters play Salisbury Arts Centre.

That’s Saturday dusted, from hip hop to panto, and rock n roll to pig racing! Last but by no means least, lucky ones get to see Turin Brakes play the Cheese & Grain, Frome; where else?!


Sunday 27th and Jon Amor’s residency at The Southgate, Devizes has been shifted from it’s usual spot, first Sunday of the month to this Sunday, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The fantastic N/SH plays Avebury Music Night, and the Bath Symphony Orchestra are at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon; weekend over, unless you’ve heard something we haven’t; then why did you not tell us about it?!

Nothing on Monday and Tuesday, yet; get some shopping done, don’t be like me and wait to the last minute because you’re too busy telling everyone else what they should be doing!! See you at The Muck? Hip hop hooray!


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REVIEW – Jazz Sabbath @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Sunday 20th November 2022

You wait for one to come along….

by Andy Fawthrop

After Saturday’s double-header at Long Street Blues Club with the Alex Voysey Trio and Hardwicke Circus, there was hardly time to draw breath on this exciting musical weekend.  A quick shift from the Con Club to The Corn Exchange, and there we were on a rare Sunday night out.  Yesterday evening D-Town hosted Jazz Sabbath as part of their UK tour, a date long in the calendar thanks to the forward thinking of Paul Chandler’s Longcroft Productions.…..

I’m sure Paul had been hoping for a somewhat larger audience to pack out the Corn Exchange, but there were still plenty enough people there to enjoy the club-style layout of dimly-lit tables and a sparsely-lit stage.  And the quality of the music provided was absolutely top-notch.

First up in the Support slot was London-based Billy Watman, who turned out to be an absolute wizz on the guitar.  Having spent his training in classical and flamenco styles, Billy treated us to an absolute master-class in how to get every sound possible out of his instrument.  With the occasional use of loops and pedals, he laid down his own backing tracks before playing some of the most virtuoso acoustic guitar work that I’ve seen or heard in a very long.  Explaining what he was doing as he went along, in modest and understated style, he laid out fingerstyle versions of Back To Black, Boney M’s Rasputin and even Pink Floyd’s Brick In The Wall.  This guy was massively proficient – there’s just no other way to put it.  He had the audience on side right from the get-go.  In fact there was only one thing wrong with his set – it was simply too damned short at only 20 minutes.  I’m pretty sure the audience would have liked a lot more.  Great stuff.

After the interval, and before the main act took the stage, we were treated to….a film!  A short docu-style item, featuring many celebrities, setting up the myth of the band doing their first gigs for 53 years!  (If you go onto their website you can read all the spoof material for yourself).  The joke/ conceit was maintained throughout the evening with further bits of film, and Adam himself pretending to be an 84-year old (he’s actually 48, just be clear).

I don’t know – you wait for years for a Black Sabbath tribute band to play in D-Town, and then two of them come along in a matter of a few weeks (Black Sabbitch played here only a month ago).  And then they were on stage.  Jazz Sabbath featured Adam Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman, keyboards, Dylan Howe, son of Alan Howe on drums and Jack Tustin (son of his parents I’m sure), on upright bass.

The whole idea was to produce jazz interpretations of Black Sabbath classics.  Sounds mad, but it wasn’t.  Adam has cut his teeth working for many years both with Black Sabbath, and with Ozzy Osborne’s Band, so he’s pretty familiar with the heavy metal basic material.  However his arrangements were an almost unrecognisable world away, and lots of the material was Adam’s own contemporary compositions.  This was very little Sabbath, and very much Jazz.

The two sets, apart from the spoof interruptions, were confident, laid-back, melodic and highly enjoyable.  Adam himself, taking the lead on piano, did all the talking.  It was uncanny to see him sitting in exactly the same place as his father Rick had done almost four years ago when he played the same stage with his KGB band. The audience, who were soon into both the music and the comedic wrap-around, were attentive and appreciative.  There was a richly deserved encore, and the crowd hit the streets happy, having been royally entertained.

And just time for a general shout out to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this gig happen, and to transform the barn of the Corn Exchange into a warm welcoming club atmosphere – from the sound guys, the stage setting/ lighting, the table lay-outs – a perfect backdrop for some great music.  This is the sort of gig that helps to put D-Town on the UK musical map, and further proof that the town can punch above its weight in terms of musical quality.  The gig was a bit of a (financial) risk, and whilst it might not have entirely paid off, it was nevertheless (musically at least) an absolute triumph.  Maybe the tickets were a bit expensive?  Maybe folks don’t like going out on Sunday nights?  Who knows?  But this sort of gig needs all our support.

And there’s a chance to do just that in a couple of weeks’ time when virtuoso keyboard player Lachy Doley (dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond) plays his only UK date in D-Town on Friday 9th December.  Get out and get those tickets – this is going to be a real one-off!


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Introducing The Next Magnificent Seven Tracks from Our Julia’s House Compilation

Me and my absent mind. We released the second volume of our compilation album series in August, when I announced its release, and revealed further details of the first seven tunes, with a promise to detail them all in groups of seven…. then, nothing, nada, absolutely spaced on it!

I can only apologise to all the contributors, and hope we can catch up on it again. So, here is the previous article, which tells of exactly this worthy project is all about, and I’m going to now encourage you to buy this download, as all profits will go to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices in Dorset and Wiltshire, and you get yourself a marvellous selection of tunes which you can treat as a teaser or introduction to many of the amazing musicians we have locally.

Buy it HERE

Without further ado here are the next seven artists to have contributed, and I endeavour to publish another as soon as possible. But, if I’m honest, I’m getting rather frustrated with the project, sales haven’t been so good, and that’s troubling being all the hard work and kindness these good folk have shown us. And me too, listening and organising all this great music really takes it out of you! Seriously though, the reason I’ve failed in promoting this as well as I could have, goes hand-in-hand with said frustrations. Therefore, I’m hoping this might spur some interest.

To all contributing artists, do message us if you’d like your free copy, I’ll send you a coupon code.


8- N/SH – Elemental Times (2020)

Everyone’s favourite school teacher, Garri Nash, is a Swindon-based singer-songwriter with a unique take on music. We first met at a gig at the Crown in Bishop’s Cannings, where I just scooted in for the last few songs of his set. Under the pseudo-name N/SH, he’s a solo, multi-instrumentalist of the alternative indie kind, offering fragments of electronica and ambient soundscapes. Often melancholic, N/SH cites Radiohead, The Smile, Fink, and The Slow Show among his influences.

 We fondly reviewed his last album, Recreational Trespass in September, where you can find out more about what makes Garri tick!


9- Psychedelicat – Ark (2020)

Artist originally listed as Rebsie Fairholm & Marvin B. Naylor, Marvin added in his email, that they’re now going under the name Psychedelicat, and asked if I could use this instead of their own names, which I’ve only just spotted…. I’m full of apologies today, aren’t I?! I believe the issue is, when I reach out for contributions to these compilations, I’m inundated and this is not the only technical error to have been discovered, believe me!

This has been corrected, but know Rebsie and Marvin were new to me, introduced to our project by Richard Wileman. Initially bonding over a mutual love of 12-string guitars, Rebsie Fairholm and Marvin B. Naylor came from different parts of the musical universe and somehow met in the middle. Marvin’s unique style of 60s-marinaded psych-pop and Rebsie’s dark chocolate psych-folk combine to create new dimensions in jangle as one of the world’s only 12-string guitar duos; supplemented by harp, mellotron, crumhorn, early-Floyd-style effects units and anything else they find lying around in the studio. Our track Ark is a shining example, a truly beautiful song.


10 – Sean Amor – Follow Your Own Way (2020)

One quarter of Swindon’s foot-stomping folk, Celtic and Americana band, The Copper Creek Band, Sean sent us this solo single, Follow Your Own Way unsolicited, and we’re glad he did. Sean Amor weaves a wonderful blend of Americana-tinged contemporary folk, albeit firmly rooted in older traditions. So, another new one on me, which is one of many great things about this project, finding new artists. Follow Your Own Way is immediately lovable, persevering vocals and a simple but effective riff; just works for me!


11 – MGB – No Barriers

Originally listed as Westbury-based husband and wife duo, Bob & Amanda Condrey, there was some confusion also around this track. Bob wanted the third musician “Ginge” mentioned, though he sadly passed away recently, the duo continues with the name MGB.

No Barriers is astutely written acoustic magic, with Amanda on these ringing vocals; honoured to have it on our album.


 12 – Lawrence Williams – Love Will Carry On (Laurence Williams and lyrics by Phil Young 2021)

Oxfordshire’s Lawrence Williams is from the band, Port in a Storm. Which though I had heard of in passing, Lawrence was another new one on me, introduced by this project.

This wonderfully uplifting song dates to about 1998, Lawrence told me, “As it was always in my head. I wanted to create a very big “wall of sound” track.”

“Fast forward to 2021,” he continued, “and with my own studio and instruments I worked on the arrangement part by part building up playing piano, guitars, bass, drums and some realistic orchestral samples to try and capture some of the magic from the 60’s big production recordings. The song itself is an obvious nod to the 60’s but also from the time it was written the Brit pop sounds of the 90’s too.”

Currently working on a solo album which Lawrence promises to be released this year with a variety of “jingle jangle guitars, catchy melodies, and piano ballads alongside.”


13 – Fly Yeti Fly – Shine a Light (2017)

Bradford On Avon based acoustic folk duo, Lorna Somerville and Darren Fisher, aka Fly Yeti Fly have made a great name for themselves, blending sensitive vocal harmonies with intricate guitar arrangements, mandolin and harmonica, weaving songs and stories from their travels together, with a sound that is reminiscent of the late-’60s folk scene. Now living on their canal boat on the K&A canal, their music is heavily influenced by the natural world and life on the water.

Shine a Light is taken from the 2017 album Shine a Light in the Dark, and I’m overjoyed to present it here.


14 – Daisy Chapman – Generation Next (2017)

 Taken from the album Good Luck Songs, which we reviewed here, Generation Next is a prime example of how Trowbridge based internationally renowned musician Daisy Chapman can weave the most intelligent lyrics into the most beautifully orchestral yet folk-tinged songs. We reviewed Good Luck Songs here, take a listen.


And that’s all for now, I will, I swear, get on with the next magnificent seven songs, but hopefully not before you treat yourself to this amazing compilation album!


REVIEW – The Alex Voysey Trio & Hardwicke Circus @ LSBC, Con Club, Devizes – Saturday 19th November 2022

Double-header, Double the Fun!

by Andy Fawthrop

In yet another busy musical weekend for Devizes, it was hard to choose where to go, with gigs all over the place.  A nice problem to have I guess, but on Saturday night I threw my money into the Long Street Blues Club hat to see two bands that were completely new to me.

First up was the Alex Voysey Trio. Alex had previously played the club back in February as support to Mike Zito.  On that occasion he played a solo acoustic set and impressed enough to be invited back with his full trio.  Alex has worked as a session and support musician to many big names in the business, and in many musical genres.  He’s a passionate advocate for blues music, and used his trio to great effect here, covering both traditional numbers and to his own modern compositions.

With Paul Arthurs on drums and Ben Hands on bass, Alex hit the stage with a range of snappy and upbeat blues/ rock numbers.  He soon had the crowd on-side, and used the opportunity to mix it up a little with a couple of slower, more laid-back numbers.  His one-hour set was sound, competent and thoroughly professional, featuring some nice flourishes on lead guitar.

The second half featured the first D-town appearance for Carlisle-homed five-piece Hardwicke Circus who, quite rightly it seems to me, are being tipped for big things. They’ve already opened for mega stars such as Bob Dylan at Hyde Park and for Southside Johnny.  Paul McCartney allegedly persuaded Glastonbury festival to get them to play, which they duly did.   And it didn’t take long for everyone last night to see why they’re so well thought-of.

The band featured Jonny Foster (lead vocals and guitar), Tom Foster (drums and vocals), Joe Hurst (bass and vocals), Lewis Bewley-Taylor (keyboards), Jack Pearce (saxophones).  This combination provided a great solid and multi-dimensional sound.

They’re a hard-working, hard-gigging band and it showed.  They’re young, sparky, almost punky, occasionally poppy, accompanied by some healthy doses of attitude.  But they’re very good, and they know it.  Their sound is strong and fresh, and has brought comparisons to all sorts of bands.  For me that included Dexys, Wilko Johnson, Madness, Fratellis – a little bit of something for everyone.

Straight from the off we knew we were in for a great set.  Lots of heft and drive, fast numbers, no messing about.  Loads of healthy banter with the crowd, and some well-placed audience participation in some of the choruses (“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” springs to mind).  There were plenty of good tunes, catchy hooks.  No long intros, just plenty of songs packed into their 90-minute set.  The crowd absolutely loved it, and an encore was never going to be in doubt.  But what an encore!  The band were joined on stage by Texan Joe King Carrascoa, guitarist and vocalist, and proceeded to deliver a six-song masterclass in how to play a crowd.  In among there were a solid rendition of The Band’s “The Weight” and a stonking version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.

If the future of music is in the hands of bands like this, we really have nothing to worry about.  This was an old-fashioned rock band in very capable young hands.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You

Friday 13th January 2023                              Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 18th February 2023                       Eric Bell Band

Saturday 1st April 2023                                  Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames

Saturday 15th April 2023                               Billy Walton Band

Saturday 6th May 2023                                  Kyla Brox Band

Saturday 27th May 2023                               Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 24th June 2023                               Earl Slick Band

Saturday 28th October 2023                        Susan Santo


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SGO Folk Up The Southgate

What of the apostrophe, diacritical, a punctuation marking a possessive case of nouns, a contractive omission of letters, or perhaps, in this case, a leftover smudge on a pub chalkboard?! Taking said chalkboard listing S’Go as the omission would read “S” for something, “go,” which could easily be ill-perceived as ultramodern funky electronica, or something loosly along those lines; not the case for this wonderful Swindon-based five-piece folk assemble.

Debroah, landlady of Devizes’ Southgate afirmed to me earlier in the week,“they’re 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!” and to know the affectionately dubbed “Gate” is to know never to doubt her word on this subject. So, far from potluck, I dropped in, Deborah was already up dancing with the crowd, while George the pub alsatian slept in the makeshift apron.

Cleared up any band name confusion with the bowler hat attired frontman during their halfway break. Seems the apostrophe is old hat for the band, favouring it as an abbreviation, SGO, of which he may’ve broken down for me but I missed it in the alcohol-infused noisy moment. Regardless, he suggested a dislike of the name was unanimous between its members, so subject to change, ergo; none of this really matters anyway.

What matters is ever the music, atmosphere and levels of enjoyability, and while Devizes hosted another Long Street Blues Club night and the Condado Lounge was brimming with fans of Finley Trusler and Mark, only an adequate houseful graced the dependable tavern, I’ll confirm those who did wouldn’t deny for what matters, SGO skyrocketed all said levels.

Pub dog George seems to detect the impending intoxication levels of the human punters, connecting it to their need of dancing, and, after time prefers to slumber under the bar hatch. But one ponders the attraction in kipping directly in front of the performers is likely the natural heat they give off makes it the warmest spot. Though steady to begin with, SGO certainly gave British Gas a run for their money.

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 accordian, 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. Akin to what Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club are putting down, this is achieved through replicating the timeless sounds of which folk have revelled in for centuries, and validates its worth in modern day.

All tradtions of folk were honoured, SGO covered classics, sporadically upping the tempo, enthused their audience, were amusing with localised ditties and personal prose. Referencing an expedition between their hometown’s landmarks the Richard Jefferies Museum to Coate Water as a sea shanty being a particularly adroit example. Yet they were at best producing some sublime instrumental moments of skillful union. The crowd were swaying in bliss, and perhaps, booze too.

Therefore the demanded encore was aptly Gretchen Wilson’s “You Don’t Have to Go Home, but You Can’t Stay Here.”

My lucky dip came up trumps, and a great night was had, although that’s the standard model at the Southgate. You should note Jon Amor’s monthly residency has been shifted to next Sunday, Rockport rocks up there next Saturday, one third Lost Trader, Phil Cooper follows on 3rd December.

For SGO, I’d recommend S’going to check them out, and can be found at Swindon’s The Gluepot on Thursday 1st December, with support from Shedric, and The Hop Inn with support from Canute’s Plastic Army on Wednesday 7th. Follow their social media HERE for updates.


The Dinner Party – TITCO @ The Wharf Theatre, Devizes

An Open Love Letter – To TITCO

by Ian Diddams

Most reviews are quite sombre, written in the third person with a degree of distance.  Not this one. It’s time to throw that book away and speak from the heart. This “review” is openly praiseworthy and could even appear sycophantic. Meh. Whatever. It probably is somewhat cringeworthily first person centric – always a no-no. Though I would hasten to add that while I mention “me” and “I” quite a lot the real recipient of attention is most definitely…  “The Invitation Theatre Company” a.k.a TITCO.

Some history.  TITCO was started by Jim and Mary Roberts, in Devizes, back in the 70s, based on a bunch of friends coming together to put on shows others didn’t. They both passed on in time and TITCO “went to sleep” for a while – until resurrected with a passion by Jim and Mary’s daughter Jemma in 2009. Since then, Jemma and her husband Anthony have driven TITCO on in a similar vein to her parents – a bunch of friends putting in shows nobody else does.

There’s one very important word in the above paragraph.  The F-word.

Fast forward to 2022, November. And “The Dinner Party”. It’s been mentioned that this will be the last TITCO show for a while – and the setting of “The Dinner Party” (TDP for future reference!) is a beautifully framed homage of that situation. Set as if in Jemma and Anthony’s home (complete with genuine pictures and wall art from their real home I can testify – plus their lovely dog, Wilson!)  the setting is that of a get together for “Titters” – the members of TITCO.

This is where my review gets personal, and breaks the traditions as explained above. I was invited into the TITCO fold in 2015 for “Pirates of Penzance”, was made a Titter in 2015 and have shared a stage on multiple occasions since then. The rollcall is amazing…  including “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s” (WOTW)– twice. Driven by Anthony’s pride and joy “The Full Tone Orchestra” (FTO) of course.

So you see, I am part of this amazing company.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” …  As some bloke once said…
And of course, Sisters (Sister Act 2016!).

Friends.  Friends that come together and create amazing shows.

Which brings us back to TDP. Naturally.

So, the bunch of friends meeting for a dinner party naturally – this being TITCO – leads to spontaneous singing and performing as everybody takes it in turns to entertain the table or sing together in shared beauty. The evening’s menu is a mix of old and new, well-loved songs. From a starter of a few run-a-dub, London based favourites (“Last Night at the Conductors Arms”) onto a main course where some pretty serious singing came out. Promoted from his youthful renditions of Frederick, Sean Andrews gallantly moved into Major General mode – followed shortly after by “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” (A FTO Big Band speciality of his). South Pacific made its appearance (Brief History of Musicals 2015) with a heart rendition from the chaps of “Nothing like a dame” but not until after a spirited, marigolds glove tassel twirling (*cough*) performance of “Wash That Man” !

The revamped TITCO’s first musical – JCS – was paid tribute to with Herod’s song – led by the joyous Tim Hobbs – and the ladies’ exquisite “Could we Start Again Please”? Blood Brothers came to the party also with “Marilyn Monroe” by Ally Moore and an ensemble “Tell Me It’s Not True”. The “big show” additions continued with Chris Worthy singing “Forever Autumn” from WOTW …  but we were also shown little TITCO in-jokes throughout the show. Let’s just say that one Titter is NOT a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan – but succumbed to the (Hot) Mikado’s “The Hour of Gladness” …  good on ya Jemma! The main course came to its end with a couple of light-hearted pieces – “Me and My Shadow” by Chris and Anthony – somewhat a party piece of theirs, truth be told – and a fantastically hilarious version of “Pam” by Tina Duffin.

That wasn’t quite all of the main course though. As an almost surprise and wonderful lets-slip-this-in, one of TITCO’s stalwart accompanists Dominic Irving dueted with Mari Webster on “City of Stars”. Dom is one of those people that can play about a million instruments brilliantly – but I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him sing – until tonight. Wow. Just – wow….

The night was hurtling towards its conclusion now. Five ensemble pieces completed our pudding course – with tear jerking numbers “Seasons of Love” and “Hallelujah”, and the uplifting and vibrant “Circle of Life”, “From Now On” and “Rhythm of Life”.

Then the dinner party was over, and so the guests wended their way into the night, Jemma said good night to Anthony…  who called Wilson into the garden.

Lights Out.

I started this review saying this was an open love letter to TITCO.  And it is. From your invitation in 2015 until today as a company TITCO has shown me friendship, inclusion, and provided me with every opportunity I could want in TITCO shows – and allowed me to run the show bars!.  From a somewhat fay pirate (Pirates of Penzance), to a mobster (Sister Act), The Voice of Humanity (WOTW – twice), to cow & narrator (the “cowrator” in “Into the Woods”), Albert the publican (Last night at the Conductor’s Arms ), then a hectic seven characters and twelve costume changes plus ladder climbing in two hours (Spamalot). And of course ensemble singing and solos in concerts and the FullTone Music Festival. You built me. I’ve done amazing shows with other companies, but TITCO built me. And I thank you.

I wasn’t involved in tonight’s Dinner Party – a medical procedure (a good one I hasten to add!) precluded my involvement. But I sat in the audience, watching my friends deliver another polished smooth performance. Under my breath I sang with them. I laughed at the little in-jokes. I wanted to be there with them – but then I couldn’t have enjoyed their joie-de-vivre, seen the love, the friendship oozing from their every pore. As a sign said on stage “Friends are the greatest gift in life”.

Chapeau TITCO. I raise my walking stick to you all tonight.

A final word (or ten…).  This is “the last TITCO show for a while”.  So I just want to say as I sign off my open love letter is…

From Now On …  Could we Start Again Please.

Love you all

Didds
xxxx


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Devizes Girl Wins Vernon Kay’s Talent Nation

A huge congratulations to Jess Self, 13, from Devizes, who has won Vernon Kay’s Talent Nation…..

Presented by Park Dean Resorts, Talent Nation had over 2,500 applications and  ran at 52 holiday parks across the UK.

Jess travelled to Skegness where she made the final twelve, and was then crowned the overall winner by judges, including Alison Hammond and Strictly star AJ Pritchard. She performed a medley from Hairspray The Musical.

Jess said, “it’s like a dream come true. It was such an amazing experience and was a great opportunity.”

You can see Jess, performing as Red Riding Hood at the Wharf Theatre’s pantomime, Little Red Riding Hood, running from 9th to 17th December. Tickets HERE.

Jess, who loves performing, and is currently at Stagecoach performing arts school in Trowbridge, added she “can’t wait” to perform in the Wharf Pantomime and is excited to see everyone’s hard work come together. She says she’s extremely grateful for every opportunity that comes her way.

Well done, Jess; keep up the amazing work, fingers crossed, next stop, Broadway!


Town Council Register Warm Spaces Devizes

Like a descriptive paragraph from a Dicken’s novel, as similar across the UK this season, Devizes Town Council has provided information about a local “warm spaces” initiative, of which you need to resigter your venue or activity, if you can help.

Register HERE.

They will be adding a downloadable list of all registered warm space venues to their website soon. I hope we can replicate it here to spread word of this saddening yet essential service. Feel free to contact us if we can help in any orher way too.

Warm Spaces Devizes is a local community provision of safe, welcoming warm spaces that are free and open to all in Devizes and nearby villages. The spaces will provide a warm location, refreshments, companionship and information on how to weather the cost of living crisis. You do not need to freeze this winter.

This follows a similar pattern across the county, Wiltshire Council has created an online interactive community directory to help people find warm spaces and community food providers in the county to support them.

Access this HERE, to find what support is available nearby and across the county. Go to the directory and select your postcode area, this will automatically generate a list of what is available, as well as a host of other useful features.

Those in other locations, can find their nearest warm space HERE.

Naturally, they all suggest attending can help to reduce your heating bills. In this “starve or freeze” coming winter, make no mistake, this is a disheartening article to have to publish, particularly in an area assumed to be affluent.

While I’m pleased to hear such schemes are being created, it is clearly symbolic of the absolute failure of this government, and while county councils like Wiltshire continue to tow the Conservative line, I’m of the honest opinion they are duty bound to attend to this crisis. We will not thank them here, but we will acknowledge their efforts.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th – 23rd November 2022

Got a proper soaking this morning, fat lot of good it is whinging to you about it, you are here only for the lowdown on autumn happenings this coming week, so I’ll waste no time waffling, don’t worry about me, yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine!

Currently up and running, until Saturday, is TITCO’s Dinner Party at The Wharf Theatre.

Staying in Devizes, Thursday 17th sees the opening of the historic event, Devizes Eisteddfod. Here’s the place to find future local stars of the arts, a five-day festival of over 400 classes of music, speech, drama, dance, writing, art, photography, and composition, for people of all ages, who may enter individually or through a school or group. There are competitive and non-competitive classes. The Music, Speech and Drama classes will be held in Devizes Town Hall. Find out more HERE.

Over in Bradford-on-Avon, check out Dylan Smith who has an official launch gig for his Cruel to be Kind album at The Boathouse.

Also find Ezio playing Chapel Arts, Bath. And for some doom metal and stoner rock, try a double-header at The Vic, Swindon, with Phantom Droid and Dark Prophecy.


Friday 18th is Marlborough’s Christmas Light Switch-On.

After The Rocky Horror Experience, Soul II Soul’s Feel Free Tour comes to Meca. Yes, I said Soul II Soul, wowzers! But if you’ve no tickets get in or check the alternatives in Swindon; The Beverley May Band at The Sun Inn, Coate, Splat the Rat play The Hop Inn for Swindon Folk Club.

In Devizes, it’s pub quiz time in aid of Arts Together at the Cavalier, and I’ve got to recommend the highly entertaining Blondie & Ska duo, who play The Pelican. Chippenham duo, as it says on the tin, do Blondie covers but also include those Two-Tone classics, in a kind of fashion you’d wished Blondie covered them; it’s lots of fun. In fact, it was going to be editor’s pick of the week! UPDATE: sorry to hear this has been cancelled. Postponed until 3rd February.

Drag Show at the Neeld, Chippenham, with The Dazzling Diamonds. Limehouse Lizzy at Salisbury Arts Centre.

After N’Famady Kouyate at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, they’ve got something on my hitlist, the acclaimed Moments of Pleasure, a Kate Bush tribute. Meanwhile, it’s bonkers at The Three Horseshoes with a triple bill of Hell Death Fury, Lone Sharks, & Monkish.

Craig Charles is on the wheels of steel at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Richard Norris plays sister venue, The Tree House.


Saturday 19th, kids, Lego Club, at Chippenham Museum from 3-4pm. I know I keep mentioning this regular event, but I love the sound of it, wish there was a Lego club when I was a kid, and well, I might go one day anyway. My own kids will be like, “dad, I need a lift to my science book writer’s guild annual general meeting,” and I’ll be like, “fat chance, I’m off to Lego Club!”

Find handmade jewellery, woodwork, hand-poured candles, scented soap, artwork, and handbags at the Mynt Image Craft Fair at Devizes Corn Exchange from 10am-4pm. And in the evening find the Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio at Long Street Blues Club; upcoming talent Saturday, sounds tempting, very tempting! UPDATE: being our Editor’s pick of the season has been postponed, this isnew Editor’s pick of week!

The Southgate promises folky blues with S’Go, a new one on me; Deborah tells me, “They’re 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!” Cannot argue with that. Ye gods, that sounds tempting, very tempting too, what am I to do?!

Night Jar play Woodbrough Social Club, Miranda Sykes’ Show of Hands is at Marlborough Folk Roots, at the Town Hall, and the local favourites, Humdinger play The Lamb, Marlborough.

There’s a Trowbridge Weavers Christmas Market, and Gaz Brookfield plays the Pump, with Heartwork and Be Like Will in support, but I believe it’s sold out, check their website, but be quick on the flux capacitor. You could always head to the Somerset Arms, Semington failing that, where you’ll find The Beverley Maye Band, or The Buckly Rage at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

The wonderful seven-piece soul band, aptly named Blue Soul Band play the Contsti, in Chippenham, tributes The Faux Fighters at The Vic, Swindon and Coldplace at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Jessica Fostekew’s Wench runs at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s your Saturday night.


Sunday 20th. I’ve checked this over and over, and it definitely says, Jazz Sabbath is at the Corn Exchange, Devizes on Sunday, are we sure it’s not Saturday, people? Damn your eyes, that’s a school night!

Also occurring, Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra with Huw Warren at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Clinton Baptiste tour at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, after a record fair, and tribute L1nkn P4rk at The Vic, Swindon.


And that’s your lot, I got nought for Monday and Tuesday, but don’t forget it’s the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate Devizes on Wednesday, 23rd, and Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop beginning at Salisbury Arts Centre, which runs until 30th, and Matt Deighton is at The Tree House in Frome.


The biggies next week are of course, the Winter Festival and lantern parade in Devizes, Friday, and the start of the Window Wanderland. Saturday sees the second feast at Soup Chick, of Kashmir cuisine, and The Scribes come to Devizes, at the Muck & Dundar. We love the Scribes here at Devizine and are thoroughly looking forward to this; get a ticket!

John Otway at the Pump, Trowbridge on Friday, and The Moscow Drug Club on Saturday, both worthy of your attention. Then, gawd blimey, it’ll be December. I’m trying to keep up and update as regularly as possible, including getting the biggies up for next year. Have a great weekend, keep a check on our event calendar for updates, and planning ahead.


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Review: Cracked Machine at the Southgate

by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley

Following a night in the Corn Exchange Friday, the chance arose for something completely different, something new to our ears……

Life got in the way, and the support- Clock Radio were regrettably missed on this occasion, one to look out for soon…

Wondering into a rammed Southgate just in time for Cracked Machine’s set we were aware of them clearly having a strong following.

How can we describe the sound? Heavy but relaxing? The strongest bass delivery you are likely to hear anywhere, incredible layering of sound from that bold bass, the prodigious lead guitar and backed with some fine, crisp delivery from the drums.

With no vocals, comes a name to hold court with musicianship. It didn’t appear to pose any pressure for this machine. We found ourselves captivated, enthralled entirely by something so different.

Our limited research prior to the gig, (we were encouraged to try by drummer Gary) threw up a tag of ‘space rock’. There’s not a huge amount of it anywhere in the world it appears, Germany and Japan seemingly the widest exponents.

Yet here we are in Devizes, in what guitarist Bill Denton proclaimed as ‘the best live music venue in Wiltshire’ watching space rock. (Ed’s note: yes, here’s a review of them at The Gate by Andy, from 2018.)

In the same way fans like ourselves might immerse their senses in big musical landscapes of say Pink Floyd, you find yourself in fact listening mesmerised, personally oddly relaxed…. there’s that driving bass and sufficient volume to shake the rafters, yet it’s like you’ve found yourself in the bars of Tatooine.

Years of music collecting and gigs have left no reference, no recollection of anything quite like it. So, chatting with the band, Prog Rock people often like them, space rock people love them, and as of yesterday so do we!

Check them out! I cannot remember the last time a band I liked left me with such difficulty describing their incredible music.

As ever and in full agreement with Bill, thank you Deb and Dave at The Gate for their unrivalled passion for live music in Devizes. Thank you to Cracked Machine, look forward to next time.


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Review: Is this the Blues? Beaux Gris Gris & the Apocalypse at the Corn Exchange

by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley

We cannot pretend we didn’t approach this gig with keen anticipation based on previous times this band has graced Devizes with a spot on their tour……

As ever they did not disappoint; line ups over the years have seen a few faces, but the core of the group, Robin and Greta, steers the band with a note-perfect delivery, showing their experience and musicianship. With a quality band, as always, backing them up, they launch into every song with a knowing smile, many assembled being familiars, the floor is filled with participation, dancing and joining in, especially with crowd pleaser ‘don’t let the bastards get you down’; rarely have we seen the roof raised in such style in Devizes.

Is this the Blues? Well yes, the contemplation of both the good, and bad in life in the well-crafted lyrics certainly say so. In its delivery, there’s showmanship, an ability to hold a crowd, to raise a roof, or usher in near silence at will. We would go with Blues-rock, if pressed for a genre, as it’s accessibility would please the ears of many who would not classify themselves as fans of traditional Blues.

What makes the tangible feeling of a real connection with the band? Perhaps this being Robin Davey’s hometown? Or his musical journey with game changing band, The Hoax, who formed in Devizes? Audiences are now treated to guest appearances on Beaux Gris Gris tours from the best musicians in the U.K. Blues scene from all the links and friendships that come with such a rich history as a professional musician.

For this gig Robin’s often-time stage mate Jon Amor was away with his band, and so we were treated to the incredible guitar playing of Scott McKeown. A new name to us, but more than impressive enough to warrant investigation in his own right.

This gig was a great example of the capacity of our town to draw top bookings. Perhaps we shall enjoy a return to form for our once popular venue in the Corn Exchange? Thank you to everyone who makes it happen and if you didn’t catch this one, check them out, you might just discover this is the Blues for you.


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New Lost Trades Single; Old Man of The Sea

If decades haven’t lessened the appeal of the galling quip, “Monsieur, with these Rocher you are really spoiling us,” every time some spanner in a tank-top pulls out a box of chocolates at a party, then I reserve the right to modify it here today, for wonderful local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades are really spoiling us, with another sublime teaser we hope to see on a subsequent album sequel.

Yet, I hailed the last few tunes for this progressive tighter bonding, so both vocally and in concept their voices and characteristics merge, this one is rather concentrated in the raconteur style of Jamie Hawkins, who takes lead.

When considering one of personal favourites on the inaugural album, The Bird, The Book and the Barrel being Jamie’s led “Wait for my Boat to Come in,” this too has a marine theme, and using Hemingway’s most unlucky character, Santiago, is the perfect subject for the forlorn and pensive impression we’ve come to expect as standard from this enriching trio. Adapting the book title, The Old Man and The Sea, to The Old Man of the Sea, it’s another delightfully expressive shanty-type ballad, with all the hallmarks of their set style, and that being a treat on the ears.

The Trades proudly announced it’s the fastest tune of theirs to have reached the 100-stream mark, but the proof is in the pudding; take a listen, you know you’ll be pleased you did. It just keeps getting better for The Lost Trades, and in that a journey we’ve all followed locally, and appreciated every step of the way.


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