NEWS

Claire Perry’s “weekly-round-up” email; with translations (in brackets)

Local MP Claire Perry’s weekly newsletter appeared in my inbox today, I thought I’d decode the complicated jargon of it by inserting basic translations in brackets, so there is no need to worry, our government, apparently, is in full control of the situation.

Welcome! (Tory supporters. Others, just signed up for my newsletter for satirical purposes can kiss my rosy red….)

It was a busy start to the New Year, (although we had a fortnight break, while you all slaved through the festive season, filling shop shelves and delivering goods in your pathetic, minimum waged jobs; insert Nelson Muntz style “ha-ha” here) with Brexit continuing to dominate Parliament and the news (other critical national issues rightfully on hold). (Help! We haven’t got a clue what we’re doing, and Nigel Farage put a slug in my knickers.)

I was of course disappointed by the result on Tuesday evening (someone told me the majority of the population have been disappointed since the day this government got into power, which I find very hard to believe.) Whilst I recognise the concerns of my colleagues (did I say colleagues? I meant backstabbing backbenchers and filthy snowflaking Leftie extremists I’d like to brutally murder) around the complex issue of the backstop in Northern Ireland (whatever that is, I live in Wiltshire don’t you know?) I still believe that leaving with a deal provides the best way (despite originally campaigning to remain) forward to fulfil our duty to deliver the Referendum result whilst also protecting jobs and the economy, (believe it, or I’ll diss you on Twitter) and I will continue supporting the Prime Minister in securing a deal that we can all coalesce around (because through my rose-tinted specs, it’s united the country.)

(You may be surprised to hear that) I voted with the Prime Minister this week, (for the sole reason to protect my job) and will continue to back the Government, because I believe that this is the best way forward to ensure we leave in an orderly way (an orderly way and Brexit goes hand-in-hand doesn’t it?) with a good deal, (despite half the population wanting to crash out and the other not wanting to leave at all) and ensure that the UK has the decent, moderate government it needs to build a country that works for everyone (and I’ve not suffered brown tongue symptoms for no reason.)

We now have a responsibility to work together (to divide and rule) to identify (see if we can’t come up with another desperate Baldrick-style cunning plan) a way forward that can secure the backing of MPs across the House of Commons (so we can have another holiday, I fancy the Seychelles this year, how about you, Butlins again? You’ll be lucky.) In the coming days, there will be meetings taking place between senior representatives (do I have to go?) including the Prime Minister, (she’s so sexy she can turn a girl’s head, and I’m not that way inclined, in fact as a Tory I hate homosexuality, one rule for you, one for me) and groups of MPs who represent the widest possible range of views (honestly, they do) from across Parliament, to reach a consensus and get on with delivering a Brexit that works for everyone (for our personal outside business dealings; bollocks to the rest of you.)

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Help Ease Traffic in Calne

Getting stuck in traffic can be frustrating enough, getting stuck in traffic in Calne is another thing all together! Sorry, sorry people of Calne, it’s cheeky Tuesday, always a tad mischievous on Tuesdays. I didn’t mean it really, I don’t go for town school rivalry, you know all that, “Devizes School, Calne School, fight, fight, fight,” nonsense; just isn’t me.

 

Did that happen here? It did where I came from, we used to sporadically fight with the other secondary school in our town, and annually organise one with the neighbouring town of Braintree. Being there’s only one school in Braintree, and Keith Flint of the Prodigy lived there, I’ve been known to spin a yarn about me fighting him. A bit of research though, revealed Flint didn’t move there until after leaving school; thanks Wikipedia, you’ve ruined my only claim to fame.

 
Anyway, I digress; congestion in our market towns is a twisted firestarter, fact. Calne Labour are campaigning, calling on Wiltshire Council and Calne Town Council to urgently secure funding for an independent traffic study to investigate practical options to address the bottle-neck in Calne and improve traffic flow and air quality in the town centre.

 
In a petition gathering more pace then the flow of traffic down Curzon Street, they state, “A large part of Calne, covering most of the town centre, has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to pollution levels well in excess of Government limits for Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulates (small particles in the air). Both these pollutants emanate from road traffic and can be very damaging to human health. It has been estimated that this level of pollution contributes to the premature death of nine people in Calne every year.”

 
“Air pollution is exacerbated by traffic congestion, which is a particularly significant issue at the give-and-take system between Oxford Road and Curzon Street. This bottle-neck effectively cuts the town in half during peak periods, with significant delays to journey times.”

 
“Curzon Street’s bottle-neck is bonkers,” I expressed to Tom Morris of Calne Labour, in a manner only I would.

 
Tom agreed, but added, “for pollution it’s worse in New Road, due to HGVs on the A4.”

 
Often infrastructure issues in our market towns can seem impossible to solve, in Devizes we slapped a plaster on a served limb. Please sign this petition and hope some professional advisors can solve the riddle, because getting stuck in traffic is annoying, but considering the environmental and health implications of doing nothing is another.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

 

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The Dub of Subject A; Writer’s Eyes

On dub experimentation, with Erin Bardwell and Dean Sartain, we review the new Subject A album.

 

Post-it Notes, penicillin, microwave ovens, Coca Cola and dub; all invented by accident. Kingston, Jamaica, 1968, Ruddy Redwood popped into Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle studio to cut a version of The Paragons’ rock steady tune, “On the Beach.” The engineer, Byron Smith accidently omitted the vocals.

 
Principal producer, Bunny Lee noted the enthusiasm of the crowd, as DJ Wassy toasted over the instrumental at Ruddy’s sound system dance. To get the upper-hand over rival Coxsone Dodd, the following day, Bunny instructed his sound engineer, Osbourne Ruddock to record instrumental “versions.”

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In 1989, returning home from the studio, Ruddock was murdered. The assassin made off with his gun and gold chain. The music industry robbed of one of the most pioneering, creative minds ever, known to the world as King Tubby. For his creation, dub, was more than reggae instrumentals. First to vision the mixing desk as an instrument, his techniques such as “rolling the stone,” predate drum & bass by thirty years, his self-built studio with a high-pass filter he termed “the big knob,” produced narrowing sweeps of signals, twenty-five years prior to acid house, and his popularity saw a rise in sound system culture, which DJ Kool Herc would export to New York’s funk audience, creating hip hop.

 
By the eighties dub was both a subgenre of reggae and a remix term across the board of electronic music. Either way it’s wildly experimental, yet I feel while the style of dubstep endures techniques of delays, echoes and reverbs, it’s lost its way somewhat when it comes creativity. Perhaps it’s just me, that I’ve not heard enough. I put it to Erin Bardwell, who agreed, he hasn’t heard enough dubstep to pass judgement.

 
Yet his dub project, Subject A, with ex-skanxter bassist, Dean Sartain, has just released a second album, “Writer’s Eyes.” It’s passionately experimental and uniquely distinctive. My initial reaction was, “it’s like they gave King Tubby a musical to produce!” In citing dub innovators, like Tubby and Perry, who pushed the boundaries, I told Erin, “that’s where this goes; nice one.”

 

“Hey,” he responded, “you get what we were trying to do!”

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Omitting lyrics isn’t apparent on “Writer’s Eyes,” it’s opening track “It’s True,” echoes Sgt Pepper, with haunting female vocals, hardly replicating a skanking dub at all, rather drifting ambient house of The Orb. From the off you know you’re in for a musical journey, and the finale, wittily titled “Penhill Sunrise,” also gives me shivers of Sgt Pepper.

 
The following title tune, responds with the sort of mellowed reggae vibe akin to Swindon’s Great Western Reggae scene, which Erin Bardwell’s Collective revels, in a rock steady/boss style of yore. The vocals and atmosphere of the third tune, “Get Yourself into Light” though is where things take a jazz direction. “Miles Davis?” I put to Erin, if this hasn’t a hint of the evocative vocal of Johnny Cash too.

 
“We have jazz musicians involved for their skills,” Erin stated, “we were trying to create music which is unpredictable, which is what I thought jazz was, originally? With our natural reggae influences in there too.” Which Erin confessed, his hands can’t escape when a keyboard is put in front of him! I like it, as far as other influences are thrown into the melting pot, this doesn’t fundamentally lose reggae. Track four, “Hide Your Face,” upholds this, strictly dub-reggae akin to Augustus Pablo, so too with “Rising Tide.”

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Yet “Road Trip,” is where my comparison to a musical choir stem from, under Nyabinghi drums. Horns then come in for “Nite Life,” replicating the duo’s 2-Tone origins acutely.

 
Bending those horns back to jazz in “Vega’s Strings,” with the deep trip-hop vibe of the Bristol scene; think Massive Attack. “I have lots of influences from soul too,” Erin continued, “and Dean from the Bristol sound. Of course, we always thought 2-Tone was about fusion, so we hope elements of that take on things has creeped into some of the songs.”

 
To magic this, the duo called upon a vast team, including Selecter guitarist, Neol Davies, drummer Matty Bane, Larry Larkin, flutist Heather O’Neill, violinist Rachael Birkin, trumpeter Colin Berry, Rowena Cameron, Harki Popli, Sarah Loveday-Drury on Trombone, Pete OD, Sonya Beale, Martin Bush. Plus, it features voices of Richie Vincent, Katie Cormier and Ray James.

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Towards the end of this epic journey, “The Earth Still Turns while you Sleep,” also mellows with ambient dub/trip-hop, it’s a flavour I noted in “Sleepwalkers,” Project A’s first album. So, how, I pondered does Writer’s Eyes differ from Sleepwalkers?

 
“I think in general Sleepwalkers was more dub-ish, reggae skanked,” Erin considered, “where as this one is a bit more varied. But yeah, what you said too – that’s kind of nailed it.”

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“I’m not sure how it’s different from first album,” Dean expressed, “think it’s the same project.” Some of the songs here, on what they deem parts 3&4, are linked to first album, parts 1&2. “A thread winds through,” Dean continued, “… a continuation.”

 
Hey, I’m no musician, all I know is, if you’re looking for something different, Writer’s Eyes will astound. It’s dreamy, sublime, but with the mixture of aforementioned influences, it’s a melting pot of variety, whist maintaining a one love to reggae.

 

Writer’s Eyes is on Digital Download for £5, CD for £8.

Pop-A-Top Records Website

 

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Resolved to Talk in Code

We take a listen to Swindon’s indie four-piece, Talk in Code’s December album, Resolve, and I question modernism, Uncle Albert style…..

 

Laugh it up daughter of mine; she pops into the kitchen to find me listening to Years and Years. I’m pondering contemporary pop with an eighties style about it, and quiver if it’s left up to them! It seems to be a trend, yet I can’t find much comparable to the album I have to review from Swindon band, Talk in Code. Trying to avoid an Uncle Albert moment, which is too often these days, when I begin to mumble along the lines of “back in the nineteen-eighties……” and my daughter immediately switches off. She doesn’t seem to care that we only had three TV channels.

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Despite my dubiousness surrounding bands self-labelled “indie,” and debates with Sheer Music’s Kieran on what defines the term, there’s something immediately likeable about Talk in Code’s new second album, Resolve; apologises to everyone, I’m impelled to make comparisons to eighties music, it’s an age thing.

 
Because instantly I’m reminded of the great pop-rock outfits of that period, of U2 and particularly, Simple Minds. The opening tune, “Play with Fire” does this, surprising me at how “pop-lite” it is, given my expectations of “indie” is that of the nineties pre-Britpop era with shards of goth and punk. Buoyant and up-tempo, it’s agreeable and pleasant, nothing of the rage or fury of my preconceived ideal.

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Nailing it down to the synths as the root cause for my Uncle Albert moment, the second tune “Keep Safe,” pings Prefab Sprout at me; a cringeworthily comparison, as all the tracks here are acutely written, without nonsensical hotdogs and jumping frogs. Shall we say Alphaville or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and be done with it? That said, there’s also subtle echoes of all which indie shifted into through the nineties and naughties, from caressing the clubbing scene, Madchester and Ninja Tune, to groups like The Smashing Pumpkins or a non-psychedelic Spaceman 3.

 
Putting the Rubix cube back in my C5, I’d also make contrasts with what Devizes duo, Larkin are putting out. I like it, for it’s sophisticated pop, it’s modern sparkle, and highly catchy. Perhaps no tune on this album more so than “Oxygen,” which, after a couple of listens sent me to YouTube, wondering if it was a forgotten cover, as it was stuck in my head like classic pop should. Like an intoxicated first snog, felt like Oxygen and I had known each other forever, but we’ve only just met!

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Steady as she goes, Resolve never deviates nor experiments, rather sticks to its working formula; synths and vocals on the following track “So It Goes,” keep the faith in a Simple Minds inspiration, the catchiness not waning, yet the album flows through five more tracks, taking you with it. Quoting influences from Coldplay and The Killers, to Daft Punk and archetypic Britpop groups, this four-piece have fashioned a polished and high quality, anthemic sound.

 
Since 2014, when the self-titled debut album produced by Geoff Swan, (known for his work with Haim, Ed Sheeran and Prides,) captured the attention of the industry; regional BBC Introducing and Q Music, Talk in Code have built a fanbase and are intensely motivated; with this new album, released in December, the professionalism clearly shows.

The good news for Devizes is, vocalist and guitarist; Chris Stevens, bass/synth and programmer; Mark “Titch” Turner, guitar, synth and programmer; Al “Sneds” Sneddon, and drummer and backing vox; Jamie O’Sullivan, will be Talking in Code down the Cellar Bar, as the first in a series of gigs titled Subterranean; Sheer Music’s determination to bring the town some full electric shows, not before Vince Bell supports the incredible Gaz Brookfield on 22nd February.

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Said series of gigs at the Cellar Bar kicks off on March 1st then, with Chippenham indie three-piece, Socket supporting Talk in Code. Tickets are a fiver. If you can’t wait that long to see if I’m truthful about the potential of this proficient beguiling synth-pop indie outfit, and unless you want to travel to the Facebar in Reading, on 14th Feb, you really need to download Resolve.

 
All said and done though, some indolent research reveals Talk in Code do not cite any aforementioned eighties bands as influences, so it must just be me….and maybe Zammo and Danny Kendall. Bet you’re gonna ask Siri who they are aren’t you? Mr Bronson will have you, bloody whippersnappers!

 

Talk in Code website

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Handing over the Cheque….

Not usually one to publish pictures of myself on Devizine, and for the good reason I’m not the most photogenic subject unless it’s a John Carpenter flick, here I am this afternoon handing a cheque for £480 to Chairman, Sue Tovey and Treasurer, Frank Marshall of The Devizes Area Committee for Cancer Research. The money was raised at our birthday bash in November.

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Devizine stands to notify, promote and encourage events in entertainment and the arts within the area of Devizes, it’s surrounding towns and villages, we’re not about hosting them. But last November I decided to hold a little birthday bash for the website, and it grew into the awesome concert of local talent you’ve probably all forgotten about by now!

 
Me though, I’ll never forget, the bits I remember of it, and I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped stage it, from The Devizes Conservative Club, Dean Czerwionka of Dead Kool Promotions to all behind the scenes, and a special thanks to Erin (you know who you are!)

 

Images from Matthew Hennessy and Nick Padmore

 
Thanks to all our fantastic acts too, of course; George Wilding, Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin, Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler of Larkin, Lottie Jenkins Bryony Cox and Gail Foster. Particularly Iggy, Chris and Catherine as the Daybreakers, who not only supplied the PA, but coordinated the technical parts and got everyone dancing by the end of the evening. Heck, if you missed out, here’s our summery of the night.

 
So, I confess, I’m chuffed today as I met the committee members and handed them the cheque. Formed in 2007, to date The Devizes Area Committee for Cancer Research has raised over £267,000 for Cancer Research UK. With a variety of events and sponsors, from simple collections to concerts, tapas evenings and the Autumn fair, to the main events, the annual Stert Country House Collectibles and Car Boot Sale in May and Pink Week in Devizes during October, the committee continues to raise funds, and awareness. I pondered to Frank, if he felt it was ever possible to find a total cure for this terrible disease, and I was surprised by his positive reaction that it would, one day, be found.

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Until that day, we struggle on, almost everyone’s lives have been affected by the diagnosis of a friend or family member, myself personally, the very reason for choosing this worthy charity for our wonderful little party.

 
Next birthday bash though, I’m thinking………

Looking Ahead with Devizes Scooter Club

While it’s that quiet month of January, when all that remains of a festive season are a couple of abandoned coconut creams in an otherwise empty Quality Street tin, a lone Christmas cracker novelty moustache sluggishly gliding under the fridge and a tree dumped in the street with a single streamer dangling, it’s a good opportunity to highlight forthcoming stuff to do, and look forward to summer festivals and extravaganzas.

 
If you’ve not yet discovered the news that Devizes has its very own scooter rally this summer, prearranged by The Devizes Scooter Club, then you’ve been living either on the moon, or Pewsey. But you might be forgiven to assume that an event of this magnitude will render the Scooter Club void of its usual crazy, crazy nights at the Conservative Club; you’d be very much mistaken.

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Not content to sit on their laurels and await the rally in July, they’ve been busy revving engines, and perhaps safe-bet gigs with two nights of returning favourites and also, a new-comer to Devizes. So, it begins; on Saturday February 23rd, tickets for this a mere snip of a fiver in advance, for possibly the most renowned northern soul DJ in the UK, Mr Terry Hendrick, precisely one day under a year from the last time he graced us with his presence, rather splendid two-tone suit and braces.

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Devizine reported a blinding night as thus; “Northern Soul aficionados from far and wide mingled with Devizes natives for an evening of cheongsam dresses, two-tone suits and quality northern soul on the talcum powdered dancefloor of the overflowing Conservative Club last night,” as it was indeed a cracking night, nearly cracked the old knees! Terry Hendrick does not disappoint, with a blend of rare groove and classics for all fans of soul. I suspect it’ll be a heady night with bar staff rushed off their feet!

 
The end of April, Saturday the 27th, also sees a soulful return of a favoured night last year. Bedfordshire’s finest, All That Soul’s reappearance also marks an anniversary of their original visit to our town. At the time I intended to flick between the club and a band at the Southgate, but once I heard these divas sing, I stayed for the duration, wedged in the groove!

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Of all the fantastic nights the Scooter Club have owned, I’m reckoning All That Soul was perhaps the best, of which I described at the time as thus; “I kid you not, they were the soul cover band equivalent of Star Trek’s Borg, in matching frocks; resistance was futile. They assimilated me, half the population of Devizes, and reassigned our honky booties from the bar to the dance floor. With irresistible charisma and panache from the off, they filled the Cons Club with a plethora of chic Motown and Atlantic soul classics.”

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The two most celebrated acts we’ve seen at the Scooter Club are separated by a newcomer to Devizes in March, Saturday March 30th to be precise. The Decatonics change the genre, a nine-piece ska band based in Bournemouth. Formed in 2012, they’re female fronted, loud and proud. See, you can apply as much soul as you like guys, but when it comes an evening to whine up mi waist like I was young again, it’s good to hear a bit of ska has also been included. Look forward to this night; tickets are a tenner.

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I think, after April the Club understandably ween off the Cons Club nights, to work on this forthcoming rally. July really will test them to the limits, with eights acts plus DJs, it’ll be a heady weekend for scooter enthusiasts, but more importantly I feel, an awesome opportunity for locals with a passing interest in the scene to sample the diverse range of music on offer. It’ll all be covered there, from mod, to rock steady and ska to northern soul.

 

Not to mention it’s in Rowde, and you know what we’re like! So, yeah, like groovy, while tickets are available at the Cons Club, Vinyl Realm and Jeffersons for Terry’s night in Feb, wristbands have also gone on sale for the Rally; now that should cheer your otherwise gloomy January night up a bit…. better than a squashed coconut cream.

 

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Chapter Two kicks off this year’s productions at The Wharf

After the sell-out Kidnap in Pantoland, The Wharf Theatre, Devizes are preparing for their first production of the year, Neil Simon’s Chapter Two. Directed by Lewis Cowen it runs from Monday 28th January to Saturday 2nd February, doors at 7.30pm.

 
Novelist George Schneider is still grieving over the death of his wife, Barbara, when his brother Leo sets him up on a date with actress Jennie Malone. Jennie has gone through years of counselling and a messy divorce and neither of them consider themselves ready for a new relationship. However, when the efforts of Leo and Jennie’s best friend Faye, whose marriages are also in trouble, proves unexpectedly successful chaos ensues.

 
This is Neil Simon at his hilarious best, his sparkling dialogue softening the edge of what is, at heart, a serious examination of what it means to lose one’s partner. His semi-autobiographical Chapter Two examines what it truly means to love someone and whether it is possible to find a soulmate more than once in a lifetime.

 
Tickets: (£12/under 16s £10) can be purchased from Ticketsource at: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events

 
or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366.

 
To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is now available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes. For further information contact Karen Ellis http://www.publicity@wharftheatre.co.uk

 

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