NEWS

Plastic Free Devizes?

I’m guilty, I admit, I think many of us are, driven by a hurtling civilisation, an archaic method of consumer comfort, but 38.5 million plastic bottles are bought in the UK every day, taking hundreds of years to break down, and yet we use it to store products that we consume within minutes. It doesn’t make sense. Sustainable Devizes say “there’s a better way than throwaway.”

I need a big loud label, to spell out the bottle is made from recycled plastics, and I will choose that over another, but is this enough? Only 9% of plastic ever produced globally has actually been recycled.

Me, from a generation dragged unwillingly along to household Tupperware parties as a nipper, to watch my mother replace old metal tins passed down generations in favour of hard plastic containers. A cohort wrapped in clingfilm, disposable plastic bags, and grandmother’s whining ignored; that “we didn’t have this when we were young,” they returned the pop bottle for a penny, put the milk bottle on the doorstep, they took a butter dish to the shop and the shopkeeper plonked a new knob of butter on it.

As my daughter frowns, labels me “gen x,” or wrongly, “boomer,” jumping Greta’s bandwagon and blaming me personally, I try to justify my actions by whimpering “we knew no better.” But we do now; Nan was right all along, and she didn’t even know it, she just done what everyone else did, no difference than me trapped in this pressured, mass-consumer superstore modern era, have we the time and resources for every customer to queue, each grasping a butter dish? Have we the time left to causally pass off the notion our common practises need to change?

The plastic crisis is part of the climate crisis. 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels. One in every ten barrels of oil is being used to manufacture new plastic. It’s a no-brainer, we need to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we produce. We need to ditch disposable plastic and embrace reusable products wherever possible. We can free where we live from single-use plastic.

Sustainable Devizes is on a mission to help Devizes become a Plastic Free Community, possible? Only if we all rally to change our habits. Talking to local businesses, working with local schools, engaging with the Council and organising community events, such as this one, with soup and cake, to twist my arm!

Sustainable Devizes will be at St Andrew’s Church on Wednesday 3rd November, presenting a free community film screening of the award-winning 2019 documentary The Story of Plastic. Stating, “plastic pollution is a global crisis, but one that can have local solutions.” Sustainable Devizes invites you to join them, their newly-formed Plastic Free Devizes group, to arrive at 7pm, when a bowl of homemade and plant-based soup and a slice of cake will be served, and the film to start at 7:30.

This screening is timed to coincide with the first week of COP26, so will also give us a chance to discuss our hopes and fears for what that might bring, for those that want to stay for a conversation after the film.

Tickets for the event are free, but booking is required, follow this link, so they know how much soup and cake to make! There will be a small charge (£3.50) for food to cover costs. Donations welcome if you’d like to see more events like this in future. As this is in an indoor event, St Andrew’s would ask that you please wear a facemask (whilst not eating) if you are able.


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Does Wiltshire Council’s Climate Strategy Lack Ambition and Commitment?

A month after Wiltshire Council’s Climate Strategy was criticised by the Wiltshire Climate Alliance for lacking “ambition and commitment to achieving its goal of seeking to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030,” I’m horrified, yet not surprised to see social media pages still maintaining climate change is a hoax, when I thought all was pretty much conclusive, and a majority, aside political opinion, accepted that climate change is real, and is happening.

I was checking out a Facebook page called “Climate Change is a Hoax,” because, for the same reason I occasionally click on the fascist GB News site, I enjoy deliberately annoying myself with the stupidity of far-right illogic! With a laughable forty-one “likes,” it hardly carries much clout, neither many of its shared articles remained live after factchecking algorithms stripped them bare. But one YouTube video by Canadian conspiracy theorists, The Climate Discussion Nexus does give sensible argument against climate change, just when I tarnished them with the same brush as flat-earth theorists.

The content of the video portrays Michael Mann akin to a narcissistic nerdy schoolkid, who assumes his homework is superior to everyone else’s, simply because he did it, and claims other researcher’s papers have been poo-pooed by the IPCC in favour for Mann’s. While I shrug, the United Nations owns the IPCC, and is an intergovernmental body, it’s not completely impossible climate change has been exaggerated for this supposed purpose of “controlling the masses,” or for any other bizarre reasoning they invent, I have to question, what if they are wrong? Furthermore, quotes from the “about” section of the Facebook page such as “don’t let the globalists and socialists destroy our lives,” is so chockful of falsehoods and propaganda I don’t know where to begin. Least not when the majority of the world today seems to politically side on the right, who commonly seem to debunk climate change, and so-called globalists and socialists are not in power anyway. Hence the reason the world spins on its axis and nothing much appears to get done to tackle the issue.

Come in, let’s squabble, oh, apologies, just step over that cataclysmic natural disaster someone left out asking to be tripped over, there’s a good fellow.

So, what if either side of the argument is wrong? If those who believe in climate change are wrong, we’ve been duped and possibly even burdened by a bunch of passive reformist lefties, which sounds far better than previous historic oppressing by purists and conservative philosophies, which always seems to result in bloodthirsty wars. So, we dust ourselves off, mix plastics with household waste again, break out our diesel Chelsea tractors and drive to the abattoir for steak pie.

However, if those who believe climate change is a hoax are wrong, we’ve either caused the extinction of all life on earth, including ourselves, or least ignored the chance to slow or prevent it from happening. Seriously, you have to ask yourself which possible outcome you’d prefer. Personally, I’m thinking being oppressed by lefties, which equates to eating lentils and maybe listening to Buffalo Springfield, then allowing everyone to die in catastrophic disasters, is the better option of the two, but hey, that’s just me.

Therefore, it goes without saying, on a local level, I’m keen to hear what climate change specialists think of our county council’s climate strategy, being they’ve a majority conservative seating, and by my reckoning, seems while not every conservative is a climate change denier, all climate change deniers seem to have a conservative ethos. Suspicious some lurk in Bythesea Road, I asked the Wiltshire Climate Alliance, who formed from a meeting of over twenty interest groups from across Wiltshire a year after the moment Wiltshire Council acknowledged that there was a climate emergency and set themselves a target to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. Which was in 2019, even though a seminal paper by Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius first predicted changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and noted they could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect, in 1896, you know, these things take time.

Wiltshire Climate Alliance (WCA) welcomes the fact that Wiltshire Council is developing a Climate Strategy but laments its lack of ambition and commitment to achieving its goal of seeking to make Wiltshire carbon neutral by 2030. Bill Jarvis of WCA’s Steering Group described it as, “recognising that major changes are needed but lacking any commitment or timescale for reducing emissions outside of the Council’s own operations,” adding that “there is little sense of the urgency needed for taking action, and a dependency on future plans and policies that may take us in the opposite direction.”

And there was me thinking they didn’t bother trimming the hedgerows of the A361 because of “reforestation,” our minute contribution to a worldwide area the size of China which needs to be restored to forest before it having much effect. The WCA continue, about the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, predicting the world is likely to exceed 2C between the early 2040s and 50s, and while UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “the alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable,” The WCA extends this locally by saying, “this renewed urgency doesn’t come across in Wiltshire Council’s Strategy, which speaks of ‘exploring’ and ‘investigating’ the kinds of policies and actions that should by now be in place and well underway.”

The Tyndall Centre calculated, in 2019, that “with no change to current emissions Wiltshire would use up all its budget [to 2050] within seven years.” Ergo, I have to agree, if it seems there will be no significant change to policy or action for at least another two years, where is there any sense of urgency? Apply this ludicrous lucidity to a did I leave the kettle on moment, and your house is potentially toast, my friend.

‘Future delivery plans’ are the order of the Council, yet the WCA explain, “stabilising the climate requires rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions. It is particularly concerning that the Strategy provides no detail of how its objectives will be delivered.”

They worry Wiltshire Council’s decarbonisation objectives will be no more than a ‘wish list’ in the Local Plan, Local Transport Plan and other plans, most of which have completely contrary objectives and will not be in place for at least two years. WCA would like to see the Strategy go further, and recommend a moratorium on implementing climate destructive, high emission plans and policies until such time as detailed carbon reduction delivery plans have been adopted, and it has set out its concerns.

Wiltshire Climate Alliance is keen to continue to support Wiltshire Council and its councillors in taking the urgent action that is now required. “The solutions are clear,” they say, “achievable and a large number are touched on in this document. However, they require political will to make them happen. There is limited need for more evidence gathering, investigations and assessments. But there is an urgent need for more ambition and immediate action in areas in which others are already showing leadership.”

Okay look, I’m no tree hugger, love a bacon butty, and, I’m willing to admit, my presumptions climate change deniers lurk at county hall is a scare story evolved from the content of worldwide keyboard warriors, adamant on spreading myths. But it is exasperating, becoming tiresome, and dreadfully perilous to assume they’ve no influence at any level of politics. Here’s hoping the WCA can urge Wiltshire’s residents and its elected representatives to join in demanding better, as the steering group say, “climate denial must not be replaced by delaying climate action.”

Their website is here, Facebook page here, there’s a petition; Wiltshire Council should make Carbon Reduction a top priority in every Council decision, a Facebook discussion group too, and a demonstration this Tuesday (19th October) at Trowbridge Civic Centre.


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Female of the Species Blow the Roof of The Assembly Hall, for Carmela

Entertainment events in the county blossoming out of lockdown came to a pinnacle this weekend. We were spoiled for choice, and without cloning technology the decision would’ve been a toughy for me, if it hadn’t had been for the no-brainer; the sixth annual outing of local supergroup, The Female of the Species at Melksham’s brilliant Assembly Hall.

From the moment I was pinged the lowdown on this event my heartstrings spasmed, five band’s fantastic frontwomen in their own right united for the rare, Community Civic award-winning, fundraising bonanza which has become somewhat equal in legend around these parts as a Spice Girls reunion. And perhaps what is more, the proceeds this year were directed at another personal superheroine, Carmela Chillery-Watson.

Super-heroic is a term I don’t use lightly, and not out of sympathy for Carmela’s rare strain of muscular dystrophy. Over the past two years I’ve followed the progress of Carmela and her family’s fight against this muscle-wasting condition, since mum, Lucy sent Devizine a fundraising event poster and I figured I could do more, which consequently saw me take to my milk-round dressed in my Spiderman onesie! For, now at seven years old, Carmela’s zest for life and amiable charisma is an inspiration to everyone she meets. I found it rubs off on you with immediate effect, something hordes of international celebrities have also now discovered.

Bringing this celebrity herself now back home to Wiltshire for a fundraising event, I was not only delighted to meet her and her family again, but mightily impressed with her handling of fame. Carmela responds accordingly to mounting attention, never excluding or shunning any individual yet finding the time to address them all equally; a skill many a celeb could learn from.  

With a bombardment of unfortunate planning episodes, Jools of the reggae-ska band Train to Skaville confessed, “it was a nightmare trying to get this event off the ground,” it truly became a sense of it’ll be alright on the night, and the party went off with an explosive boom. The amalgamated wealth of experience, proficiency and professionalism of The Female of the Species shone through; they are deadlier than the male.

Dedication too, to overcome obstacles, apexed by performer and musical director, Nicky Davis of bands People Like Us and the Reason, who took a fall during rehearsals to personify the performance idiom, break a leg. Frustrated by her vocal restrictions slouched at the keyboard, the second half of the show proved too tempting, and Nicky manged to make it onto her feet to sing behind the keys, rather more like Jerry Lee Lewis than Elton John in style!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves now, for full credits have to be awarded to support act, Melksham-based Plan of Action. Unbeknown to me, this male trio with a female bassist took me by surprise. Based on previous FOTS supports, I was expecting soothing acoustics, yet Plan of Action done what it suggested on the tin, and executed said plan in a hard rock fashion akin to the Foo-Fighters covers they blasted with certain precision. They then beseeched their benchmark, rather than redefined their style, to cover Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally in hard-edged blues fashion, and finished more retro than they started with rock classics such as Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.

Not only did they fire up the audience superbly in preparation, but their fanbase also resolved the terror of who would be first to break the dancefloor reservations. Now there was no stopping the crowd, as Female of the Species drummer, Pip Phillips of People Like Us was first to appear, foot-peddling the bass drum to build anticipation while the girls came onstage under an impressive light show.

Second tune in, Nicky Davis led them in an accomplished cover of Hotel California, and solo soul singer Julia Hanratty followed lead on Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, as is the Female of the Species code of conduct; memorable pop covers ranging the spectrums of their individual tastes. That said, we had none of the two-tone of Jools’ Train to Skaville, although she did an outstanding lead on Deacon Blue’s Real Gone Kid.

With affections towards uncompromising rock, Charmaigne Andrews’ AC/DC Highway to Hell boosted the crowd, but not before an early highlight for me; Julia’s absolutely outstanding cover of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, something I’d not advise any singer to attempt, as with Nicky last time, who gorgeously portrayed Heard it Through the Grapevine, Julia clearly knocked this one clear out of the park.

Claire Perry of Big Mama’s Banned not only brings range to the repertoire, but witty if saucy repartee to the show, unsurpassed during the break where Carmela joined her to announce raffle prize-winners. Sporting Wonder Woman headgear for the second half, they raised the roof of the Assembly Hall, as much as they raised serious funds for the cause.

Aforementioned, Nicky stood for the second half despite her plastered leg, as they played through memorable covers, dancefloor fillers, and perfected songs you’d be excused from thinking, oh my, they’re covering that? Bohemian Rhapsody, Grease Lightening, Oh, Sweet Child of Mine, and Jacko’s Beat It for examples. Jool’s cover of Kirsty MacColl’s New England, Claire’s I’ll Put a Spell on You, Charmaigne leading on Republica’s Ready to Go, the show continued past my bus time, but I could faintly hear Mr Blue Skies while I waited!

Yeah, here’s a thing I hadn’t thought of before; escaping the Devizes westwards for the evening is surprisingly possible via public transport, and it wasn’t a drunken fallout zone, like the Boot Hill All Star’s hilarious song, Night Bus, which I imagined, rather a mediocre and tranquil bus journey!

The last bus on the 273 route leaves Bath at 11:30, and gets to the Sham at ten-to-midnight; blooming marvellous, for Melksham have a real gem with the Assembly Hall. Drinks are affordable, the service well-staffed, the atmosphere is hospitable and they’re continuing to bring outstanding shows and events to the Sham.

All in all, this show was professional yet communal, absolutely fantastic and spellbindingly electric; if another comes along, I suggest you don’t miss out. But I must finish in thanking the Female of the Species and all involved for supporting such an amazing cause, and local girl; and to Carmela, you are a superstar.


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Boo! Spooky Halloween Happenings for Everyone!

Fantastic and spooky image of St Johns, Devizes, used with permission from Simon Folkard Photography

I say everyone, but it’s the inbetweenies always at a loss during Halloween, I tend to find. Too old for patronising trick or treating, only a handful of idiots, sulking at their lack of Harbio, who opt for the terrorising old folk kind, which spoils it for them, and for younger kids too, when everyone under the age of eighteen is tarnished with the same witch’s broom.

Yet too young to attend adult Halloween parties, which we all know, generally end up as mindless drunken satanic orgies, full of naked chicks pouring the blood of scarified male counterparts over themselves in a hellfire pit of inequity to the sound of evil giggling, and thrash metal roaring from the rafters…. at least, in my mind it does.

What?! I’m speculating, I wouldn’t know whether they break out the leather, or not. I grew up in a household where the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain was considered American commercialisation, and since escaping the nest I built my own, whereby on All Hallows’ Eve I don a beanie and wander aimlessly in the background, as “protector” parent of hyperactive children, getting ecstatic about being out under street light.

I awkwardly grimaced at housekeepers like a vagabond, as neighbours loaded their pumpkin-shaped buckets with cheap confectionary they don’t like anyway. We’d join chains of other trick or treaters, my watchful duties waning with each grouping; safety in numbers I’d suppose perfunctorily, as I tire and they run off in merriment and sugar-fuelled frenzy. Responsibility is a bitch.

I’ve got cheap, Wilkos luminous paint on my jersey from a leaking zombie, whose mask is sagging where they broke the elastic, otherwise I blur into the background and children organise themselves, until one genuinely gets scared, and I get to return home, ignore door-knocking and slope on the sofa, groaning like a headless horseman, wishing one day they’ll grow out of it.

And before you know what’s what, they do, and you pity the complaining, realise you miss the thrill in their eyes, and await the welcomed subsequent phase, grandchildren, when you hope them to provide the perfect excuse to get back out trick or treating again; by this age you need no mask or makeup, but you can return them sugar-bursting; mwahahaha!

Anyway, enough of my problems, you came here wanting to hear about all the spooky events and monster mashes going down over the Samhain, and that’s what I’m about to do, just, you know, had to get that off my chest.

Although if I’ve missed yours, I can always add them, if you liked, just message, email or howl under the full moon when the wind is blowing my direction, but the first “halloweeny” type event we’ve found, is All Cannings’ Pre-School Half term Halloween Trail, starting on 23rd October and running until the 30th. Take your little ones to All Cannings, buy a trail map from the village shop and walk the village looking for clues to spell a spooky word! Put your completed maps into our box at the back of the village hall for your chance to win a Halloween prize.

Leading up to the Halloween weekend, Crazy P’s Ron Basejam brings some Halloween disco to Komedia on Thursday 28th, but Saturday is when the spookiness really comes out to play….

In Devizes, the trusty Cavalier have a children’s Halloween fancy dress disco, with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl. You’ll need a £3 ticket, available here.

Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe wonderful DJ, Holz Stone will be on the spooky wheels of steel for the Halloween fancy dress disco at the Wyvern Club. There’ll be hot dogs, burgers and sweet bags, a novel hook-a-skull game, guess the weight of the pumpkin and what’s in the box, as well as best dressed prizes. This one’s £2 per child, on the door.

For Devizes grownups, over 21s, there’s a DJ set from Houses of Joy Soundsystem at The Muck & Dundar’s Zombie Cocktail Special night. Free entry, walk-ins, favourably like a zombie, and feel free to dress up or down. I think they’ll need an exorcist like me, to purify those spirits!

And of course, the traditional Krazee Devil Halloween Karaoke Disco will be down the The Pelican, Devizes. Only numbers are limited this year, so if you want to Party Pelicano style this Samhain then shout Sarah-Jane on (01380) 723909.

The Truzzy Boys welcome fancy dress at their Halloween Party at the Churchill Arms in West Lavington, also on Saturday. Honey-Street’s Barge have a monster mash rock ‘n’ roll Halloween party, with Little Miss Blue Bass, Mutley and Rockin Rich. Best dressed wins a £20 bar tab, which beats a bucket of Freddos. They want only £6 off you for the pleasure, tickets here.

Meanwhile, over misty graveyards and ancient burial mounds to Bradford-on-Avon, where the Three Horseshoes host Strange Folk for a Halloween party. If you checked them out last weekend at the Southgate, or read our review, you’ll know this will be a great, and very apt Halloween venture. It should go without saying by now, its fancy dress, with a prize for best dressed.

In spooky Swindon, The Swiss Chalet have one hell of a show from 2pm onwards. Train to Skaville, The DayBreakers, Hip Replacements and Mark Colton bring the skalloween tunes, all in aid of the fantastic Big Yellow Bus Project. Door tax is just a quid, with mac n cheese and a chance to win a Nintendo Switch!

Vampires and zombies of Frome only need head to The Cornerhouse, where they’ll find the highly recommended Back Wood Redeemers, with a dark country, twisted blues and religious fervor eve of Halloween. Expect special guests and they’ll be introducing the MagiGant Ska Sound System. There will be dancing afoot! Bring your relevant body parts and dress up should the whim arise… you’ll be in good company.

But not everyone wants dancing afoot, and for a relaxed meal-type Halloween event, Rowde’s legendary George & Dragon have a Rocky Horror Tunnel Party, in, as the name suggests, their secret, aptly spooky, tunnel. Dress up in your favourite horror costumes for a three-course BMF supper, and a party to follow.

And on the Sunday, the 31st, The Roebuck Inn, Marlborough, has a Halloween Open mic Night, while over in Market Lavington’s Green Dragon, there will be all sorts of spooky bonkers things going on all day, perfect for kids and grown up kids alike; with the fantastic People Like Us playing from 8pm.

I’m sure that list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll add your event if you tell me about it. Otherwise have a grand Halloween, and as I say, I’ll be maxing relaxing, safe in the knowledge my kids now consider themselves too old for the trick or treating fiasco. I mean, I’m not naming and shaming, but one of my nippers must be the only person who can lose a tooth bobbing for apples, for crying out loud into the cold night air!


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The Devizes Eisteddfod for November; Closing date for Entries is Tuesday

Closing date for Entries is Tuesday 12th October, for The Devizes Eisteddfod, a five-day competitive festival of music, drama, speech, dance, writing, art and photography for people of all ages, who may enter individually or through a school or group. Entries are still open for the Music, Speech, Drama and Pre-adjudicated classes at the 2021 Eisteddfod, Thursday – Saturday 18th – 20th November 2021. Entries to made on their website: https://www.devizes-eisteddfod.org.uk/

The Devizes Eisteddfod In its 75th year, and is back for November 2021, the program of events looks like this:

Thursday – Saturday, 18-20 November

2021 DEVIZES EISTEDDFOD

Music, Speech & Drama Classes

Devizes Town Hall

*

Saturday, 4 December 2021 at 7pm

2021 FESTIVAL CONCERT

Devizes Town Hall

Admission Free – Retiring collection

*

Sunday, 30 January 2022 at 3pm

CLASS WINNERS CONCERT

Devizes Town Hall

Admission Free – Retiring collection

*

Saturday/Sunday, 5/6 February 2022

2022 EISTEDDFOD DANCE FESTIVAL

Lavington School

Admission £5 (students £2) per day

(Dance Entries open 25 October 2021)

*

Saturday 19 March 2022 at 7.30pm

SHOWCASE CONCERT

Bishops Cannings Church

Admission Free – Retiring Collection

in aid of the church

*

Saturday 9 July 2022 at 7.30pm

SHOWCASE CONCERT

Seend Church

Admission Free – Retiring Collection

in aid of the church


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Barry Reviews Strange Folk at The Southgate!

Well, what can I say? They might lose a couple of brownie points for the singer continuously referring to me as “Barry,” but Somerset-Hampshire psych-folk rock four-piece, Strange Folk, who graced Devizes’ Southgate’s little magic box last night can afford to!

Aside an acoustic set in Crewkerne, it was their first electric gig post-lockdown, and the first time they’d played at Devizes answer to the O2, though some may cast their minds back to a brighter sunny day when they showed us what they’re made of at Pete & Jackie of Vinyl Realm’s alternative stage at DOCA’s street festival. It was on the grounds of this outstanding performance which summon me to the Gate, not forgoing the awe-inspiring tune they sent us for the Julia’s House compilation. Which, in turn would’ve substituted any lost gold stars for the Barry banter!

A small price to pay to ensure they played Glitter the very song they kindly contributed, a request which took them by surprise, being recorded during lockdown, they were unprepared, and hadn’t yet played it live. Still, as was the entire gig, they made a grand job of it, and I’m about explain why.

It’s David Setterfield’s sublime electric and acoustic guitarwork coupled with the awe-inspiring power of Annalise’s voice, which bounds their sound beyond the confounds of the usual gothic-folk rock genre. So soulfully captivating is this voice, and is the gifted guitar, at times there’s a natural nod to electric blues, particularly of the late psychedelic sixties sort. In fact, I was praising them to someone, Bran Kerdhynen, I believe, one half of the Celtic Roots Collective, by suggesting they remind me of “White Rabbit,” which they indeed later covered, along with the other Jefferson Airplane anthem “Somebody to Love.”

If I could think of no other cover so apt for their particular and inimitable sound, covers of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy, Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac, and the Stones at their most enchanting with Gimmie Shelter, also fit the bill perfectly. Tainted Love being perhaps the outside chance, but very much based on Soft Cell’s version, I’ll give them that too, for the goth perspective.

Similarly, though, as I said about Frey’s Beer’s Beast album a few days ago, the professional finish and hauntingly alluring female voice, rather than the gritty vocals common with said genre, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured, because Strange Folk sweep the arena of All About Eve, into System of a Down and Blind Melon, to blend Fairport Convention with Jethro Tull and Hendrix. And I was born out of time, loving to have hitchhiked to San Francisco with a flower in my hair.

Yet at times covers at the Gate last night felt pushed, as to appease a perceived audience, compared to their own original compositions; they were the icing on the cake and truly ushered you away on a petite mind-trip. The coupling of David and Annalise would be bare without the proficient bassist, Ian and drummer, Steve tucked in the back of the skittle ally, and they rocked through their own songs more so. For future reference, unlike many a pub gig, originals are encouraged here.

Talking of here, it was lovely to be back at the Southgate after gallivanting somewhat to bring news of other venues in our rural precinct, for while they do exist, for me, just like Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, except, it seems for the lead singer on this occasion! I mean, Barry, for crying out loud; do I really look like a Barry to you?! Rhetorical, you don’t have to answer that.

The canopies over the beer garden have become locally legendary, a testament in our town, to upholding live music throughout this era, and Deborah and Dave have created this haven, where you’ll see no drunken squabbles and feel no bad vibes.

Nice to hear their communal acoustic jams have respawned on Wednesday evenings, and next Saturday is the time for The Blind Lemon Experience, Billy and the Low Ground following on the 23rd October.

Meanwhile Strange Folk have three singles, an EP from 2014 called Hollow Part 1, and a debut promo EP from 2004, which are very worthy of your attention. Around our way again at B-O-A’s Three Horseshoes for Halloween, their sound is a gorgeous gothic-folk crossover professional enough to captivate even those with a passing interest in the genre.


Nought to 60 with the Near Jazz Experience

Fooled by my own fool proof system must make me more of a fool than I give myself credit for. It’s an elderly memory malfunction thing, becoming commonplace. Like my lockdown skinhead idea. Skinheads fair as well as a bobcat on us elderly, what with hair sprouting from ears.

The ingenious strategy to create a word document called “albums which need reviewing” botched by forgetting I’d previous had the same plan and executed it, leaving me with two documents of the same idea differing information. So it goes, like a historic homework excuse, on the previous version I’d simply typed “NJE,” without the usual brief explanation, thinking that’ll warrant me not forgetting this. Rather, I’d forget the whole document and started from scratch, leaving me oblivious to what NJE was supposed to mean upon rediscovering it.

Abbreviation resolved, ‘twas the Near Jazz Experience mini-album “Nought to 60,” overlooked since June; I stated my defence and I’m sticking by it. Annoying thing is, as anything with the name Terry Edwards attached to it, it’s smoothing right up my street and blowing a saxophone loudly at my front door.

Near Jazz Experience sees Terry team up with Higsons bandmate Simon Charterton and Mark Bedford from Madness. Names on the tin, you get four lengthy modern jazz pieces of rapture, reminding me somewhat of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, in a mod style. Remember throughout; brass is class.

The opening ten minute-plus master-jam of cool, Spirit of Indo, pays homage to the London pub birthplace of the NJE, where they played a monthly residency for nine years. Like ambient afro-funk or cumbia it’s got that deep loop running through it, Bedders programmed, Simon embellished the groove, and Terry added the toplines, sliding effortlessly from one horn to another, as is his wont. There’s a real sense of improv here, and it spellbinds you to groove, man.

The second tune is a moving tribute to David Bowie, an instrumental cover of Five Years, and Simon’s minimalist cymbal-work sustains this fragile melodica melody, it tingles the very innermost of your soul.

The tempo moves up one notch, for the third track, Tizita, and I immediately call in the spirit of New Mexico jazz with this almost tin solider drum, rolling over the top, yet a little research reveals this is inspired by Ethiopian jazz-legend Mulatu Astatke, who Terry had the pleasure of working with a few years back.

Shows you how much I know, but I do know what I like, and me causing to ponder the wonder of Miles Davis’ influence, as the finale title track builds in layers to funk, seventies cop show score fashion, with Terry’s sax just freestyling over Teutonic beats on electronic Wave drum, and a Motorik bassline, it’s some seriously cool jazz; very nice indeed, though expected, just annoyed with myself it got mislaid in my inbox till now. Ah well, better late than never.


Freya Beer’s Beast

Driving my inner-goth, I’m comfortable with this, because London-based Freya Beer’s voice is hauntingly alluring, similar to Nina Persson of The Cardigans, or more obviously, Siouxsie Sioux, rather than the gritty vocals common with arch art-rock. So, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured this long-awaited debut album, Beast, with the emotive response it evokes, and thoroughly deserves cathedral-sized praise.

Beast is out today, 7th October 2021, via her own Sisterhood label. I’m going to nail it to a few words after only an initial listen prior to this review, lyrically it needs time to fully digest with the clarity it warrants, but I can appreciate the echoing expression and exceptionally grafted narrative of disheartening passion. Savour it, this is a keeper.

It’s perhaps the crashing drums, almost the Burundi style slued upon eighties post punk pop by Malcolm McLaren, through Bow Wow Wow and Adam & The Ants, added with Fuzzbox frenzy, which gives it this welcoming retrospective tangent, or the mainstay All About Eve feel of the aforementioned sublime vocals, like Kate Bush at her darkest moment.

Yes, Beast is all these things, yet a contemporary, calculated record of primal power and animalistic instinct, carnal; hence its name, I guess!

Expressing her joy at finally setting her first collection of songs free, Freya Beer said, “it feels really exciting that I’ve released my debut album. I would never have been able to achieve the album without the incredibly talented people I met and worked with along the way. At my upcoming live shows, you can expect everything you hear on the album because my band is bigger now.”

Recorded between studios in Manchester and London, ‘Beast’ features longstanding drummer Owain Hanford on percussion, Arnoldas Daunys on bass, and lead guitars from Peter Hobbs (The Boy Least Likely To), who also produced the album. Additional contributions come from Dave Fidler and Andy Hargreaves. The album artwork was photographed by Paul Johnson (Say Goodnight Films), accompanied by Jupiter – the Sphinx cat.

Swiftly following the album’s release, Freya will be embarking on a major UK tour throughout November and December 2021. Full dates and details on the website. Closest to us is The Lanes, Bristol on Wednesday 10th November, or on Sunday 5th December at The 1865 in Southampton.

It conjures visually like Hieronymus Bosch, literate, a tangle of Edgar Allan Poe, but through sensual masochism, felinely elegant but eerie, all unpromising, like goblins will materialise out of inimical misty woods to corrupt your most emotive moment, or, something like that!

Website: http://www.freyabeer.com

Facebook: @freyabeerofficial

Twitter: @freyabeer

Instagram: @freya_beer


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And the Winner of our Gary Delaney Competition is….

And there we have it, our competition to win two tickets to Gary Delaney at the Corn Exchange has come to closing date for entries; don’t say I didn’t warn you, cos I did.

I must say I was disappointed more people didn’t respond, somewhat more than the standard of the one liner jokes! I sent the one liner jokes to Gary himself, and asked him to judge. It makes us look bad, Devizes, honest it does. Given the strength of the quality of the jokes, he is going to think he’s in for an easy ride!

I’m horrified to inform you; Gary’s response was a shocker. Mr Lee Bennett, sir, Gary duly points out your entry may not have been entirely from your own catalogue of wit. Be honest now, Lee, how do you plead to the crime of property theft?! You don’t need to reply, you’ve been tried and convicted already, as Gary wrote that the winner is “your” joke, “for having the chutzpah to submit my old jokes into a joke competition in order to win tickets to see me perform new ones!”

Well done, mate, you won on default, supposing I’d didn’t stress the joke had to be original, because, you know, thought that’d be obvious. Whoever did write the masterpiece though, it did make me chuckle;

My mate had a penis extension…

Now his house looks really stupid

And that’s the best medicine. See you all at Gary Delaney’s gig in May; tickets are still up for grabs but selling like hot cakes: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/devizes-comedy

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CSF Professional Wrestling celebrate 23 years of live events as the Corn Exchange

23 years of wrestling, is a lot of wrestling, I’ve got to wonder if I’d manage 23 seconds in the ring. Because if you know me, you’ll know dangerous sports just isn’t my bag. If I went on the school skiing holiday, I’d be the one, because there’s always one, who comes home with their leg in a cast.

I mean, words like high flying, body slamming and bone crunching simply don’t compute, if they threw the chair at me, like they do though, don’t they though, I’d probably take it with me and go find a nice quiet place in the corner with a good book, if there is such a thing as a quiet corner of a wrestling event. And if there was, you’d probably want your money back.

No, think I’d just spectate, if it’s all the same with you; you’d want more than your money back if you saw me attired in a leopard-skin leotard anyway, you’d need compensation.

Because it’s a loud and proud show, isn’t it, and like Marmite, men tousling in a leotard is something you even love or hate. Yet for Devizes Corn Exchange to host CSF Professional Wrestling for 23 years is something of a great achievement, ergo I have to tip my hat at the organisers for bringing something different to town and helping create the diverse program of events we have for a town our size.

So, help to celebrate 23 years of CSF Professional Wrestling live events as the Corn Exchange in Devizes, at their ‘Saturday Night Slam!’ on October 23rd!

Twelve top wrestling stars will do battle in five professional bouts of high flying, body slamming, bone crunching, action packed family entertainment. International star, multiple time Heavyweight and TNA / IWGP World Tag team Champion Doug Williams will be live and in action, as will All Nations Champion: ‘English Lion’ Eddie Ryan, JD Knight, Lance Cole, White Tiger, Karl Atlas, Big Country, Kian Enderby, ‘Professor’ Gilligan Gordon, Bane ‘n’ Bronson and Dan Splash.

Tickets are limited, available directly from http://www.csfwrestling.co.uk. Devizes Books (Devizes Town Centre) also have tickets to purchase in person.

For full event line up and information, please visit www.csfwrestling.co.uk or www.facebook.com/csfprofessionalwrestling

Tickets are priced at £12 each – General Admission. Other options available by visiting http://www.csfwrestling.co.uk

Doors 6pm / Showtime 6:30pm / Finish 9pm. All ages welcome.


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George Floyd Statue, Defaced, Because, of Course, That’s the First Time Anyone Made a Statue of Someone Who Committed a Crime…..?!

The media reports the bust statue of George Floyd in New York has been vandalised for a second time since its erection, and eager after a day of downtime, keyboard warriors take to Facebook careful not to expose their hypocrisy and racism, with comments along the lines of “they build statues of criminals now, whatever next?!” Because, of course, that’s the first time anyone made a statue of someone who committed a crime. Really? Wind your neck in.

True George Floyd had some petty convictions, but I wonder if he was involved with the Royal African Company, and transported over 84,000 Africans to the Americas, of whom 19,000 died on the journey, and in turn, if they said the same when Edward Colston’s statue was torn down in Bristol.

One man’s martyr can be another’s terrorist, one man’s revolutionary is another’s extremist, consequently thousands of statues are controversially questionable, and historically suffered damaging attacks against them. Though President Trump lapped up his brutal methods of dealing with terrorists, we all recall Firdos Square’s Saddam Hussain’s statue coming down, and no one in the western world battered an eyelid, because he was the baddie of the moment, weapons of mass destruction, or not, or whatever, America, fuck yeah! In fact, just like Lenin’s statutes being brought down across Ukraine in 2014, conservative thinkers saw it as symbolic, and celebrated. Yet when the emphasis is on statues of Confederates and slaveholders, the tables were turned and knickers get in a twist. Stone Mountain depicts leaders of the Confederacy, how far should we take this?

I’ve always loved Westminster Bridge’s Boudiccan Rebellion statue, and I’d probably been rooting for her revolt against Roman rule, but if I were a Roman, I’d probably be slightly narked by it, being her army showed no mercy when brutally razing London, Colchester and St Albans, slaying 70,000 Romans. Similarly, if I was Fatty Fudge, (which isn’t so far from the truth as it may sound) I’d be offended by Minnie Minx’s statue in Dundee.

Despite his passive hippy perception, it’s reported John Lennon was violent, he kicked a fan in the face when he tried to jump the stage. It’s common knowledge he almost beat Bob Wooler the deejay at the Cavern Club to death at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party; imagine, still, they made a statue of him.

Mount Rushmore was built on seized land, and designed by a sculptor who allegedly had ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Statues are never impartial, they commemorate a person trapped in time, but our response to them isn’t, it moves with current popular opinion and attitudes. Our feelings towards a statute depends on who they were, what they did, who erected them, and in turn, who pulls them down.

Tokyo’s Yakusuni Shrine was established to “commemorate and honour the achievement of those who dedicated their precious lives for their country.” Included among the names inscribed inside the shrine there’s reported at least fourteen known criminals. The architects of Japan’s alliance with Germany and Italy during World War II are on there, there’s a general directly responsible for the attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour, and another who ordered a battle that resulted in a massacre that killed 200,000 civilians in 1937.

“Anti-doggers” had a whole different meaning in 1906 London, they were hordes of rioting medical students, condoners of vivisection who police held back from destroying Battersea’s Brown Dog statue, erected to memorialize the infamous brown dog and the many other sacrificed animals. In the end the protests were too much and Battersea Council removed it under cover of darkness.

In reverse to the vandalism of the George Floyd statue, the Haymarket statues commemorating of the “robust policeman, in his countenance frank, kind, and resolute,” who were bombed by a raging mob in Illinois in 1886 was frequently damaged and marred by both bombs and even a streetcar rammed it. The reason? The bomb was thrown in retaliation to a previous protest in Chicago where, feeling threatened by the crowd, the policemen in question fired into it, killing six people.

And there’s my point, through the acquirement of all the facts over time, judgements will change, and justifications for tearing down a statue, or not, differ. For the people of Bristol of largely of Afro-Caribbean origin to have to walk past a statue of someone who factually oppressed, flogged and murdered their forefathers, overlooking them as a constant reminder of the horrors of our colonial past, every day, is prejudicial, and their peaceful campaign to have it removed was ignored for decades.

Boris Johnson said tearing down statues amounts to “lying about our history” and that it is “absurd and shameful.” Yet the Colston statue is a lie, a monumental historic fib, symbolic of the cover-up and deception of an unashamed industry, and to want to keep it absurd and shameful. But this all-seeing eye, a permanent fixture of an ancient bastard staring down at them from its plinth is a testament to racism, and that is a whole different ballpark from a simple bust of victim of police brutality over in the USA, which is vandalised while his body is still warm, while the movement is still in swing and youth of the era are still inspired by the occurrence.

If in a hundred- and twenty-seven-years attitudes have changed, or further facts about Floyd have been uncovered, and it seems justified to tear it down, so be it, but at least wait for time to heal the wounds of those effected by the movement.

Return of Comic Cons

With the recent announcement of two Comic Conventions both hopeful for a date in September 2022, I’m wondering how the comic industry has been affected by the pandemic and what the future of these crucial events for the industry might look like.

Pre-lockdown comic cons became quite the trend, with elements of cosplay aside workshops and talks, it’s both fun and an essential business enterprise for all involved in the industry, from big publishers to those self-publishing “small pressers.” Yet as the tendency boomed out of its niche market, lots of smaller localised events popped up, many without equal knowledge of the subject as they’d let on, often organised by town councils and local libraries. The other side of the coin saw big event businesses cashing in, creating huge events which concentrated on the best method to collect as much money as possible, which is bringing TV and movie franchises with little relation to comics.

Of course, these attract a wider audience, but swamp the attention of real comics, and naturally, those movies and TV shows which relate to comic counterparts. Of the two recently announced events, as a wandering fruitcake once on the verge of the industry, I know the organisers of both are thoroughly and wholly dedicated to the subject, and will create the kind of large-scale events to bless comics with the attention they deserve.

Hopeful the conventions will re-breathe excitement into actual comics as a medium and not just movie spin-offs, wondering if the pandemic and lockdown have created the opportunity of returning to the basics with a clean sheet, perhaps to start again creating comic cons in the true spirit of the industry.

Firstly, ICE, the International Comic Expo, held annually in Birmingham since 2014 is an independently run comic convention which fast became the UK’s flagship convention, our own San Diego. After the fathomable year off, ICE announced its return for September 10th 2022, at a new venue, Edgbaston Stadium. 

Event Director, Shane Chebsey, who previously helped to organise events like BICS and Comics Launchpad has been a lifelong enthusiast and devoted comic fan keen on promoting and marketing the small press in particular. Shane said, “we believe in exposing our visitors to a wide variety of comics from the most exciting new superheroes to the coolest indy and small press books. Our guest list reflects this too with guests from both the big publishing companies and the smallest publishers. When you visit our events, you can also expect to see a wide variety of exhibitors, from those selling collectables to creators selling their own work.”

“You can expect to meet some of your favourite creators at special signings and maybe even walk away with a unique sketch from your favourite artist.” Not forgoing the astonishing program of panels, talks and interviews running through the day featuring many guests, this expo is the true comic fanboy’s calling, yet equally the kind of eye-opener to the wealth and quality of the comic market every hopeful artist, writer or simply just follower of comics has to see for themselves.

And, for me, that’s the nutshell, creating an environment to appease those with a mere fleeting interest in comics as well as devotees of the niche, inspiring budding creative types and in general, causing attendees to appreciate what the French call “the ninth art,” is far from the excessive polarized stereotype of superheroes alone, and as diverse a media as film and books.

“From what I can tell,” Shane enlightened me to the situation of larger comic cons, “most of the big media shows are resuming business as usual now that they are out of hibernation. I have not really seen any change in their approach towards comics related guests and events at their shows.

“Of course, some of the medium sized media events seems to have disappeared altogether, unable to survive the lock downs. I personally know a couple of organisers who had to go and get a day job to feed their families and had to wind up their events businesses. But for every one of those we lost, their are new organisers starting up now who think they can give it a shot. So I suspect we will soon return tot he saturation point we were at before lockdown.”

“But right now we have the big shows who could weather the storm and the small shows who could just stop without a problem as they don’t organise events as their main business. So I foresee a slow start followed by a huge rise in events in Spring text year.”

“However, just before lock down there were certainly rumblings among fans and guests that convention fatigue was starting to set in, which multiple shows happening pretty much every week of the year in 2019 attendance was really starting to diminish at many events and I think fans are starting to look for unique conventions and festivals that offer something a bit different. Whether that’s more online content, more overseas guests or more carefully produced panels and workshops etc.”

“I think the days of just hiring a venue and getting a few cosplayers in, a few movie props, z-list soap actors and a load of Funko sellers isn’t going to cut it any more.

“Comics fans want to see actual comics for sale at comic conventions and they want to meet artists and writers who they’ve never met before. They want that memorable sense of occasion that we used to get conventions before this huge increase in events. So it’s up to me and my contemporaries to deliver what they want in 2022.”

I feel my team and I are up to the task and we’ll be pulling out all of the stops to bring the fans the best event experience they can possibly have within our budget.

ICE happens under one roof in the vibrant city centre of Birmingham and costs just £10.00 when you book in advance. But for one closer to us, the trade magazine Tripwire announced they’ll be hosting a comic convention in Bristol, the weekend before ICE, on the 3rd to 4th September 2022.

Bristol always had a great convention throughout the nineties and noughties, which fell into disrepair, so it’s great to hear Joel Meadows of Tripwire will celebrate the magazine’s thirty-year anniversary by bringing a whole new convention to the city. Again, Joel’s experience and dedication to comics will ensure nothing but greatness for this event.

Guests are yet to be announced, when the website goes live, but it will feature the best in UK, US and European talent as well as editors from major US comic companies and film and TV artists as well. “We are very excited about this event,” Tripwire says, “and can’t wait to tell everyone more when we can.”

As restrictions lift, plentiful comic conventions are popping up again, this month sees MCM Comic Cons in London and Birmingham, November has the London Film and Comic Con and Liverpool Comic Con, and many more. While they’re all great fun, the connoisseur of all thing’s comics will tell you the place to head for is Kendal, for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival which is happening from 15th to the 17th of October. Though for the local of passing interest it’s a trek to Cumbria, these two in Birmingham and Bristol I’ve mentioned will be the crème-de-la-crème, take it from me, yeah kapow!

For information about ICE: https://internationlcomicexpo.wordpress.com/

And Tripwire’s announcement about Bristol: https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwire-presents-bristol-comic-con-is-coming/


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REVIEW – Jon Amor/ King Street Turnaround – Southgate – Sunday 3rd October 2021

Busy Day For The Hometown Boy

Andy Fawthrop

Sunday saw me drifting up Long Street once again to The Southgate.  Dave & Debs have been doing a fantastic job to make everybody welcome over the last few weeks since Lockdown ended, not only by getting their garden into shape with umbrellas, gazebos, and marquees, tables and chairs, but by opening up the front of the skittle alley to accommodate a wide range of performers.  Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays have variously been used to field an eclectic programme of live music, including Tim Manning, Lewis Clark, Howlin’ Mat, Daydream Runaways, Eddie Martin, Innes Sibun, Barrelhouse, The Hoodoos and The Celtic Roots Collective.

I try to get up there as often as possible, but I definitely wasn’t going to miss this one.  Today it was a hometown gig for local hero Jon Amor with his band King Street Turnaround.  Normally a four-piece, they were shorn of their keyboard player due to Covid isolation restrictions, so they simply cracked on as a trio.   It was their second gig of the day, having played earlier in the afternoon at The Bell Inn in Bath.  And for drummer Tom Gilkes and bassist Jerry Soffe however it wasn’t even over yet, as there was to be a third gig later in the day at The Old Duke in Bristol with Eddie Martin.  Busy day!

Jon was in his usual ebullient and inspired form, cracking out some splendid guitar work, his vocals sparse and to the point.  Once he’d conquered drooping mike syndrome, there was no stopping him.  Two powerful sets of soulful, bluesy rock ensued, with the large crowd absolutely loving lapping it up.  The band display that wonderful quality of being at times loose and relaxed, giving each other the time and space to play their solos and improvisations, and then tightening it right up when they need to, in order to close out each song with a flourish.  Highlight for me, again, was Juggernaut, a song and a riff that I can’t get out of my head, and one which seems to be heading towards becoming a worthy always-there number in the set list.

The band played for as long as they possibly could, but finally it was all over, and that quick sprint out to Bristol lay ahead.  Another superb gig, and a pleasure to be there.

So if you want to support live music, be part of a great atmosphere, and have a few drinks with friends, get yourself up The Gate one of these coming weekends!

Future Gigs @ The Southgate:

  • Saturday 9th October – Strange Folk 9pm
  • Saturday 16th October – Blind Lemon Experience 9pm
  • Saturday 23rd October – Billy In The Lowground 9pm
  • Sunday 24th October – Jack Grace Band 5pm
  • Friday 29th October – Grizzly Rhys Morgan 9pm
  • Saturday 30th October – Celtic Roots Collective
  • Fri/ Sat/ Sun 29th – 31st October – Beer & Cider Festival

Win 2 Tickets HERE!

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Gull Able

Ah, hope you enjoy my new Sunday series, something a little different…. To Be Continued………

REVIEW – Jimmy Carpenter – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 2nd October 2021

Long, slow sax in the evening

Andy Fawthrop

I think we’re all partial to some casual sax when it’s on offer, so it didn’t take much persuasion to get me back up Long Street to the Con Club for the next date of Long Street Blues Club’s winter season.  Tonight it was the turn of Las Vegas-based Jimmy Carpenter and his band, and the Devizes date was the first night of their UK tour…..

But first things first.  Acoustic support act for the night was Lewis Clark, shorn of his Essentials for the evening – just the man, his voice and his guitar.  Lewis played mostly his own material, and a lot of the songs were new.  These were often raw in emotion, but still strong on melody, with some intricate guitar playing and soaring vocal work.  He did play one cover – John Martyn’s I Don’t Wanna Know, and a damned fine job he made of it too.  Lewis is a talented guy, and the crowd clearly appreciated it as a great start to the evening’s entertainment.

Then it was onto the main man – Jimmy Carpenter.  The man came highly recommended on the back of his new album (Soul Doctor) and his Blues Foundation 2021 award for Best Instrumentalist.  The guy is a saxophonist, singer-songwriter, and arranger and has been in the music business for over 35 years – and it showed.  I was new to the guy’s music, but was totally won over by the end of the night.

The 5-piece band played two 50-minute sets and it was the mark of how darned good it was that it seemed to slip by in half that time.  Jimmy was in total control of his band (including a bassist brought in at the last minute due to a possible Covid scare) and, after a few numbers, in control of the crowd.  The sets featured several original tracks from the album, including a really superb rendition of the eponymous Soul Doctor, together with a seamless leavening of carefully selected covers.  Just as I was beginning to think of comparisons – Van Morrison, Southside Johnny, Junior Walker – up came the latter’s Shotgun.  We also journeyed through Peter Green’s Need Your Love So Bad, Otis Clay’s Trying To Live My Life Without You, the Rolling Stones’ Shine A Light, Freddy King’s Surf Monkey and Eddie Hinton’s (of Muscle Shoals fame) Yeah Man. 

All of this was played with enormous panache and great energy, effortlessly working through Memphis soul, boogie-woogie, rock & roll, and blues.  And not content with blowing some wicked sax and putting out a great line in gravelly vocals, the man kept flipping over to lead guitar “just for a rest”.  What a performer!  Needless to say the crowd lapped it up.

Great night’s entertainment, and what good quality live music is all about!  Best sax I’ve had in ages!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

  • Saturday 30th October – Climax Blues Band (at Devizes Town Hall)
  • Saturday 20th November – Focus (at Devizes Corn Exchange)
  • Saturday 27th November – Antonio Forcione Quartet
  • Saturday 18th December – Kossoff: The Band Plays On
  • Friday 14th January 2022 – Chicago Blues Allstars

WIN 2 FREE TICKETS HERE!

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The Evolution of Kirsty Clinch

“The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.”

It’s a generation X thing, I’m suggesting, which levels me to downloading an album as the last port of call to actually “owning” something anywhere near physical, against this era of streaming music, sourly missing the fondness of holding a piece of vinyl for all its crackles and jumps. Because owning an album was like a piece of treasure, the cherished keepsake sense you don’t get with streaming, and in review today is exactly the sort of album to be such a cherished keepsake.

Nevertheless, Wiltshire’s adorable country-pop virtuoso, Kirsty Clinch has mastered the art of marketing, and with a drive to succeed, knows precisely through social media, how to gain and keep engaged a modern audience, equally to her exceptional gift as a musician and singer-songwriter. Yes, you could’ve guessed it, her new album Evolution is a masterpiece. The finale of which being aptly a tune called Social Media, which expertly reflects on the image one projects online against the hidden imperfections of reality.

But the ingenuity of marketing is a miniscule element as to why Kirsty manages to reach the fourth position in the iTunes charts in under a few short weeks of releasing her debut album, against the much larger reason that this is the sort of music which doesn’t require pigeonholing, because whatever the angle of your personal taste, you’ll emerge from it thinking; you know what, I like country-pop now.

So, I bite the bullet, stream it on Spotify, like a fledgling, mottled boss, ignoring the invasion of adverts for the sake of hearing an album I’ve held in high anticipation, since she mentioned it to me quite a while ago. If it’s taken time, it’s primarily Kirsty being a perfectionist, and it shows. Nothing here will disappoint or make me doubt the faultlessness of the composition of this album, and in turn, Kirsty’s talent, her picture-perfect balance, in such a way, it’s impossible not to love.

Around and Around’s modest drum makes this song an irresistible introduction, if the astute song writing, complimented by Kirsty’s rich and warming voice, doesn’t, oh but it does. Water’s Running Low continues the quality, confirming you’re in for a beautiful journey, ten tracks strong.

Fit The Shoe, the single we’ve fondly mentioned prior, is hauntingly divine, like William Orbit’s production of Madonna’s Frozen, with a theme of who the cap fits, which is followed by the title track, again, wonderful. Uplifting is the keyword throughout, maintain the balance of sombre yet jubilance. I am Winning, a song of faith in your accomplishments, being a grand example, it drifts over you, as if it’s always been in your life.

Previously there’s always been an obviously and well played out taste of country’s female giants clearly influenced in Kirsty’s songs, of Tammy or Dolly, but here, now, this is wholly Kirsty, it sounds freshly awakened to the junction whereby one day, not far away, reviewers will cite her influence on newer folk artists; that much I’m certain. 

Perhaps the memorable, yet not as quirky as the title suggests, No Cornflakes makes me sigh, are we past the halfway mark already? The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.

But not before I Am Me, a rejected romance theme, breaths the most heart-warming narrative of all, with a trialling drumbeat imposing you to realise her style is contemporary, rather than the genre’s archetypal nostalgia. And three more tunes which never faulters the experience, the catchiest of them being Down, and it ends with the aforementioned Social Media.

In this finale you get the confirmation behind the stunning, echoing voice lies honesty in the song writing, from the heart and soul. And that’s it’s worth, in a nutshell, you feel as if you’re getting a little piece of this performer, who is the whole deal, plus one. Self-managed, produced, save the odd tip and mastering from Pete Lamb, marketed, Kirsty even drew the cover illustration. She puts the young students of her newly opened music school before that of promoting this album, she surely shines, and if you heard her previous songs, seen her perform live, you’ll remain convinced this album, is Kirsty indeed evolving into a shooting star you cannot ignore.


Trending….

Sonny Vincent’s Snake Pit Therapy

Here’s me doubting using the phrase “traditional punk rock,” because wouldn’t punk castoff anything deemed traditional? Yet I feel the term punk is loosely thrown about these days, compared to its original ethos. Much of the sneaker and drainpipe crowd-surfing youngsters barely relates to the sound and attitude of the Pistols or Ramones.  

While I’m a little behind, and smell like one too, Svart Records released Snake Pit Therapy on 17th of September, legendary NYC rocker Sonny Vincent is something we have to mention, because it’s loud, dangerous and pretty much nails the aforementioned oxymoron, “traditional punk rock.”

Born in New York City and raised on its streets and in its clubs, Sonny Vincent is infamous from NYC punk early fire-starters Testors, who from ‘75 to ’79 were attitude-laden fixtures on the CBGB and Max’s Kansas City scenes. An extraordinarily prolific artist, active since the late 60s, Sonny has released numerous albums collaborating with members of the Stooges, Dead Boys, The Damned, Husker Du, The Replacements, Rocket From The Crypt and releasing four albums with the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker. He recently collaborated with Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling in the new supergroup The Limit, whose Caveman Logic album was released in the spring.

Snake Pit Therapy maintains the rawness of real-deal blazing protopunk with heaps of psychedelia and hard rock, all taken to the edge with Vincent’s naked aggression, passionate voice and his trademark caustic guitar. Yet scrupulousness rides this razor-sharp rock n roll testament, because Vincent’s life and antics are more than legend; they are real, as documented in his recent memoirs, bearing the same title as this very album.

In and out of homes for bad kids, committed to the psych ward for observation and forcibly conscripted into a tour of duty in Vietnam courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corp, Vincent’s experience of wild and tough living has awarded his songs hardness with humanity. Sincerity without mawkishness, Snake Pit Therapy is glorious rock ‘n’ roll with an edge that’ll slice your finger clean off.

For this, I’ll say, at first it was a hard pill to swallow, blasting it straight in your face when I was in somewhat of a laidback mood, rather Snake Pit Therapy grows on me like a wart with each listen, and if you’re looking for rage without cliché or irrationality, you’ve come to right album.

It was ten tracks into this fifteen-track indestructible primal scream when I was smitten, Japan Mofo, has the start stop of blues-riffed rock n roll, while retaining the ferociousness of previous tracks. Yet it’s the earlier driving rock tune, The End of Light which is the first single released, Never Tired follows, which a heart-ripped-open chorus, is having it.

Note, if you’re expecting it calm down, you’ll be disappointed until the final song, Forest offers a slightly mellowed psychedelic tenet, in comparison with the rest, still though this is verging on metal at times, inline with his recently formed heavy punk-metal band The Limit, featuring Bobby Liebling of Pentagram, and garnering glowing reviews worldwide.

So yeah, while a tad weighty for me, I still see it’s quality and know there’s a lot of people who are going locally who’ll love this, and I do too, when I’m in the raging like of mood, which has been known to happen for anything as long as thirty seconds! In the past, I reached for Iggy Pop, he now will have competition.


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Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Arts in Calne; October sees the Calne Music and Arts Festival

Calne Music and Arts Festival (CMAF) is a community celebration of music and the arts, which takes place during a ten-day period at the beginning of October each year, and this year is of no exception.

The festival aims not only to provide entertainment for the people of Calne and surrounding villages, but also to promote local musical and artistic talent. It was inaugurated in 1974 and has grown substantially over the years, showcasing some exceptional talent, whilst reaching a wide cross section of the community.

Starter for ten, there’s an art exhibition at Marden House, home to most of the festival. The exhibition presents hundreds of pieces from beginners to internationally exhibiting artists from in and around Calne. Opening times: Saturday 2nd: 10:00am – 4pm – Please note the Family Day will be in progress. Sunday 3rd: 10:00am – 02:00pm & 04:00pm – 05:00pm. Monday 4th to Friday 8th: 10:00am – midday and 01.15pm – 05:00pm. Saturday 9th: 11:00am – 02:00pm – Free Artists Talk 10:00am – midday.

There’s a Festival Club, a wine bar at Marden House, open before evening events and for interval drinks. Light lunches, snacks and drinks will be available throughout the Family Day, Saturday 2nd October. Coffee and cakes are also available on weekday evenings after the main event when there is a free late evening concert. Light lunches will be served following the weekday lunchtime concerts.

So, it starts off on Saturday 2nd October with a Family Day at the Pocket Park, and the evening sees Calne based family trio, The Shelburne Ensemble, comprising of Laurence Davies, French horn, violinist Siân McInally and pianist Helen Davies. Laurence until recently has been principal horn for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Siân is still a member.

Lorna Davies

The shows, exhibits and events come in thick and fast, see the program here. Highlights include guitar teacher at Marlborough College, Mark Willcocks with a classical guitar and Renaissance lute, and an evening with Will Blake and the PSG Choir, both on Monday 4th. Returning jazz favourite, Catherine Sykes on 5th, Bath-based folk quartet Concrete Prairie on Thursday 7th and The Bonfire Radicals on the Friday.

Concrete Prairie

Info and Tickets Here


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Local Bands Ramp Up the Volume on Bradford-on-Avon’s Skatepark Campaign

Bradford on Avon Gig Will Help Raise Funds for New Skate Park

A three-band fundraising gig to help fund a new skate park in Bradford on Avon, Sk8er Noize – Get on Board, is announced for Friday 22 October at the town’s St Margaret’s Hall. Promising to raise the roof as well as a cash contribution towards the park, the night of music and dancing will be headlined by fast-and-furious local legends, The Boot Hill All Stars, supported by popular rock covers band Pseudocrem, plus singer and guitarist Neil Ryles opening the show. Doors and bar open 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 and available from The Wiltshire Music Centre.

The new skate park is designed by Maverick Industries, creators of some of the best and most progressive parks in the UK and using input from local skaters and young people. It will cost around £280,000 and Bradford on Avon Town Council have set aside £100,000 for the venture. The pot of additional publicly raised cash currently stands at around £30,000 and the gig hopes to add a chunk to that.

The state-of-the-art facility will replace the skate park which was demolished after being vandalised and falling into disrepair. In 2018 the young people of Bradford on Avon began campaigning for a safe and inclusive space to skate board as well as for BMX and scooter riders of all ages and abilities. The new park, finally agreed in 2020, will be at the same site as the previous one, forming part of a redevelopment of the whole Poulton Park site.

The event is organised by local parents, including Mick Stanger who plays guitar and electric mandolin with The Boot Hill All Stars, who have played everywhere from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival to Bradford’s very own Three Horseshoes pub. “From the first song they get the whole crowd up dancing, whooping and getting on down. By the time they bow out with a breakneck Jolene, they’re practically hollering from the rafters.” (Ollie Hulme, Wells May Fayre). 

Mick said: “We always like to support local causes where we can, and are really excited to play our part in the Skate Park project – maybe you’ll see some of us learning to skate on it in a few years’ time!”  Mick’s daughter Beth, aged 12, said: “I’m really excited by the plans for a skate park, it’s been a long time since we had somewhere to skate and it will be great for the local community. I love the idea of a fundraising gig, especially since it gives a spotlight to local bands.”

Boot Hill All Stars

Vocalist Neil Ryles will start the night off with your favourite indie covers followed by classic rock and pop from Pseudocrem, made up of local parents and 15-year-old guitar prodigy Alex Maidment.


Win 2 Free Tickets HERE

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Local Happenings for October 2021

Unlike the enviably of the weather, events don’t seem to be cooling down this fall. There’s lots of great things happening over the month of October, find something local, and save fighting for petrol, so much going on around and about, remember to keep checking Devizine’s event calendar, as it’s constantly updating, but here’s some highlights. 

The month kicks off on a Friday, when Humdinger play The Barge Inn, Honey Street for a Woodborough Primary School Fundraiser. It’ll be an evening of Irish folk down Devizes’ Southgate, where The Celtic Roots Collective will be, and Saints of Sin play Swindon’s Vic.

Saturday 2nd, our superheroine Carmela Chillery-Watson’s mum, Lucy has written a children’s book staring her daughter and pet dog Tinker, with all proceeds going to Muscular Dystrophy UK. They’ll be signing at Devizes Books from 10:30am. Carmela is making a big splash in the celeb world, winning awards, TV appearances and meeting royalty and of course, David Beckham too! We can all be inspired by her zest, fundraise towards muscular dystrophy, and have fun too, I will talk more about this when a bit further down, when we get to the appropriate, exciting weekend.  

October at The Post-Modern Gallery, on Swindon’s Theatre Square, sees an irresistible exhibition for punks, general music or art aficionados, and devotees of the curious and unusual, The Great Rock N Roll Swindon. Running from the 2nd – 10th.

Meanwhile, at The Wharf Theatre, James Hurn brings to life three classic epis, odes from the much-loved radio series, The Navy Lark, which ran for 1959-1977 which originally featured Leslie Phillips, Dennis Price, Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee.

Devizes Long Street Blues Club have Jimmy Carpenter, Half Way House play Seend Community Centre. Catfish Creek with support from Finley Trusler & Mark Jones play the Coate Mini Music Festival at The New Inn, Coate, and Tool Shed play Swindon’s Vic.

And if that’s not enough for one weekend, Jon Amor plays with King Street Turnaround at the Bell in Bath from 1pm, promising to make it home to the Southgate by 5pm on Sunday 3rd.

The second week in is Marlborough Mop Fair, starting Friday 8th, and again the following weekend, as is the tradition. The Lonely Road Band & Hamsters from Hell are live at The Vic on the Friday. Saturday 9th sees Retrospective Vol 2 @ MECA, an old skool RnB night with Mr M at the Exchange in Devizes, staying there I’d thoroughly recommend Strange Folk at The Southgate, and tickets are already flying off the shelf for the first Devizes Scooter Club night at the Cons Club with The Killertones.

Around and about, got to recommend the wonderful indie-popper, Longcoats, with a free gig at Bath’s Devonshire Arms, on the Saturday, and Led in Zeppelin at Swindon’s Vic, which I think explains itself! Yet, while we’re on the fabulous Vic, the brilliant dub project of Erin Bardwell, Subject A will be live, with DJs in support on Sunday 10th, and this will be amazing.

During the week, find The Waterboys playing Swindon’s MECA on Wednesday 13th, and a welcomed return of Marlborough Folk Roots club, who have While and Matthews. Thursday 14th sees the Sultans of Swingers at The Dumb Post in Bremhill.

Another Marlborough Mop Fair weekend upon us, Friday 15th is a lot about Sheer Music, who present Jon Gomm at Emmanuel’s Yard, Trowbridge with support from the lovely Lost Trades. Ian Rayney is at Seend Community Centre, An Evening with Froch & Groves at MECA, and Abstraction Engine with Lunatics Lost are live at The Vic, Swindon.

Saturday 16th is filled with wonderful choice, The Full Tone Orchestra give a classical fireworks concert at Marlborough College, there’s Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show at The Wharf Devizes, and Asa Murphy returns to the Corn Exchange with a variety show including comedian Lennie Anderson and singer Sandy Collins.

General silliness abounds, and in a hip-hop style, at The Old Road Tavern in Chippenham, where local comedy musicians The Real Cheesemakers go head-to-head with Brighton’s chap-hop star Professor Elemental, hosted by Chippenham’s own Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Will Hodgson; this will be a great crack.

Sheer Music Presents moves over to Swindon, to present outrageous punker girl band, Salem at the Vic.

But I will be in the Sham for sure, where the all-female supergroup, Female of the Species give their annual, unmissable fundraising gig. Something of a local legend this event, receiving a community Civic Award and raising so much money, having a great laugh with a seriously awesome line-up of singers from a plethora of local bands, and this year, as I hinted at prior, is raising money for another hero friend of mine, Carmela Chillery-Watson.

Swindon’s MECA has Raver Tots on Sunday 17th, where you take your child raving! But for want of a quieter event, there’s an illustrated talk by Tim Craven at Marlborough Town Hall about cartoonist Norman Thelwell on Wednesday.

Saturday 23rd, then, three band extravaganza Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes with Pussycat, The Dirty Johnson’s and Kiss me, Killer. The Civic in Trowbridge have Mercury, the Queen Tribute but overall, all seems much quieter than last weekend. Of course, gigs will come flooding in soon I’m sure, so check into our event calendar for updates. You can be sure of those dependable venues, such as The Southgate, The Vic, Horseshoes, Pound Arts and Trowbridge Town Hall will be adding events as we go along, or maybe I’ve got some serious updating to do!

Monday 25th sees the opening of Glorious! The true story of Florence Foster Jenkins at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes which runs until 30th October. Friday 29th From The Jam play MECA, and White Horse Opera are back in full force with A Night at The Ops at Devizes Town Hall.

Saturday 30th sees Devizes Lions Autumn Fair at the Corn Exchange. Billy Bremner’s Rockfile at the Long Street Blues Club, and being Halloween, there’s sure to be some spooky parties going on, try the Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, where Strange Folk offer a Halloween Extravaganza, or Swindon’s Swiss Chalet which has Train to Skaville, The DayBreakers and The Hip Replacements.

Have a great Octoberfest, don’t let the bastards grind you down, if you need fuel, just post on your local Facebook group that some other nearby petrol station has fuel, and your path to the pump will be free! Oh, last Sunday of the month, check below, Devizes Town Band at the Corn Exchange, so much to do, it never stops!


Win 2 Tickets HERE

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