Cracking DOCA Christmas Festival on Friday

by T.B.D Rose

Finally, after a missed year (best to write 2020 off the map) our Christmas festival was back on Friday and as illuminating as ever….

With enchanting light displays, bombastic fireworks, specialist stalls (in the Marketplace, the Corn exchange and the Shambles), seasonal music performed with gusto, the spectacular parade beaming with all its glorious homemade creations and of course our signature local atmosphere, the festival had it all and showed our little town is getting back into the groove of doing what it does best: the kind of spirited events you’ll only find down in Devizes.

On a funny note, much to the amusement of both me and the woman sitting opposite, we both got an accidental front row seat to the firework display, which was suitably loud!

Once the parade, the fireworks and the music had faded into the night, I caught the beginning of an artistic shadow puppet show with beautifully built wooden Reindeer.

Having all of this right on my doorstep has got me right into the Christmas spirit. After all, aren’t we lucky to live here in the most wonderful time of the year?

Christmas is coming and Devizes is the place to be!


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New Grey Whistle Test: Visual Radio Arts Arrives in Devizes

Not just on the premise of tea and nibbles, I find myself at Bath Road Business Centre. The Wharf Theatre’s old prop store has been gloriously converted into a recording studio, of a sort, by a company which once set up base in Frome’s Old Fire Station, Visual Radio Arts.

My initial reaction to the name was, hasn’t visual radio been done before, at the turn of the last century? They called it television! Over a bourbon biscuit, I’m gonna brave-up, come right out and ask founder Phil Moakes what defines visual radio as opposed to television or video, surrounded by his team, co-producer Maggie Gregory and presenters Patrick Moss, Carl Sutterby and Sara Vian, the latter of whom chuckled it was a good question; phew!

The only absent presenter I didn’t get to meet was Chris Watson, who, sensibly, turned up after I had gone. Independently Chris runs the site Music Eye, which does what it says on the tin, particularly prompting his readership to emerging talent.

“If I watch a television program there’s a relationship between what you see and what you hear,” Phil begun, “if you close or eyes and just listen to the audio, you’re missing the story because it’s partially being played out on video, and visa-versa. So, my argument is, visual radio should work on both mediums equally; if you close your eyes, you can still hear the band, you don’t need the pictures, but when you open them, the pictures are there, therefore, if you wanted, you could run the whole show on radio.”

Patrick added, “which is how it started.” This visual experience with the ethos of radio started little over five years ago as a project through Frome FM. Visual Radio Arts has blossomed since with a plethora of upcoming bands and solo musicians, both signed and unsigned, queuing to feature on episodes. Browsing their website, where their back catalogue is freely available to view, it seems our paths have crossed several times, just not met until now. But as many artists I know and whom have been featured on Devizine in the past, acts like Malone-Sibun, The Lost Trades, Kevin Brown, Strange Folk, and more recently, Ålesund, there’s a multitude of ones new to me.

Likewise, I’m hopeful the move to Devizes will encourage a partial shift of our local bands to jump on this most excellent opportunity, and I ran off some namedropping of my own. Fact is, being on the same wavelength, it’s a match made in heaven, oh, we could have talked all night! Though, as these programs are primarily a promotional tool, they’ve come from far and wide already, either headhunted by Visual Arts Radio or enquired.

If this era of lockdown raised the appeal of online gigs through streaming, it’s been a scramble in the dark to both improve on the quality and earn from them. We discussed the worth of Facebook live streaming, how other sites followed suit, on ticketed events and the inevitably of bandwidths unable to handle the traffic. If the novelty of watching your favourite artists perform with a backdrop of their washing on a clothes horse is wearing thin, Visual Arts Radio is for you.

It presents artists professionally with quality editing, and Phil was keen to point out the ethos of presenting an entire forty-plus minute, uninterrupted set, with a possible interview at the finale, rather than the unpredictability of a live stream, or this goldfish attention-span we’ve currently acquired scrolling through endless three-minute videos. It was at this point, I suggested they were “the New Grey Whistle Test,” to which they agreed, and in considering this ground-breaking show, perhaps Visual Arts Radio isn’t something entirely original, but right here and now, it most certainly is a unique venture that I, for one, am welcoming to Devizes with open arms.

Phil seemed focused on music, “What I’d like to do is have a variety of styles and shapes, so we’ve got a mix of solos, acoustic, maybe doing folk, and rock bands,” he explained, though open to suggestions, I wondered how this opportunity might suit other arts. Comedy, for example, which by the nature of the beast, couldn’t surely be visual. Phil pointed out they’ve had poetry in the past, which would obviously work audio. This moved from comedy music acts like Corky, or Calne’s Real Cheesemakers, and onto any bands which used props, like the visual experience of a Boot Hill All Stars show, of whom Phil replied had been in the studio already.

“I think we’ve moved on from where we first started,” Phil continued, “when we first started it was all about music, but I think five years later, we’ve kind of worked out what and how is our best game. And, so if something came along, and it was visual comedy, then we’d probably have a think, see how it would work, but we’d probably still do it, because I think the world has moved on, and more prone to want to see pictures.”

The move to Devizes is easier on commuting for Phil and Maggie, and there’s hoping bands locally will find it more suitable, calling in acts producing original material, from Swindon and beyond who thought Frome might’ve been a trek. Visual Arts Radio certainly have a wonderful space, large enough to accommodate the brass section of a ska band, for instance, and the possibilities I anticipate will build a working relationship with Devizine in the future. I’m glad to be invited to view bands and musicians performing here, of which we can feature and link direct to their website, where you can enjoy a full set from them.

Sure, is a groovy prospect, but for now, do browse their fantastic website, check the back catalogue of awesome performances and enjoy; more to follow shortly……  


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REVIEW – Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club On Tour @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Thursday 11th November 2021

Jazz Is Back In Town!

Andy Fawthrop

Yay!  The Devizes Arts Festival is back in business, albeit in truncated format for this year, and kicked off public proceedings with a real bang last night in The Corn Exchange.

Despite being massively well served for all forms of live music in D-Town generally, jazz has been somewhat under-represented of late.  I certainly remember going to regular jazz gigs a few years ago, just next door in the Bear’s Cellar Bar, but there’s been nothing much since.

But that was all put to rights last night as The Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club On Tour rolled into town.  This proved to be exactly what it said on the tin – direct from the world-famous jazz club founded by the eponymous Ronnie Scott in the late 1950s London’s Soho, this was a live touring version of what generally happens “live” in the club itself.  We were treated to what can only be described as a multi-media presentation, combining a world class live jazz quintet alongside rare archive photos and video footage.  We were taken on a guided verbal and musical tour of the history of this great cultural institution.  Set amongst the dive bars and jazz juke joints of Soho, we heard of the desperate hand-to-mouth finances of the early years, the frequent police raids, and the various scrapes with gangsters (including the Krays, who were rumoured to have taken Ronnie and Pete “for a little drive”!)

Our “MC” for the evening, playing the role of compere, raconteur and sax soloist Ronnie Scott was the near-lookalike (and birthday boy) Alex Garnett.  He perfectly conveyed the seedy, dubious and wise-cracking humour of the man, combined with a clear love of the music, and appreciation of the skills of his fellow musicians.  On upright bass we had the dapper Sam Burgess, on piano the grinning James Pearson, and on drums the highly-accomplished Shaney Forbes.  Completing the line-up was vocalist Natalie Williams, who brought some real sparkle and show-biz pizzazz to proceedings.  Whether tackling numbers from the Great American Songbook, other jazz standards, or simply scat-singing, Natalie absolutely lit up the room with her enthusiastic personality and powerful vocals.

The band looked very comfortable on stage with one another, compact and tight when required, but giving one another just the right amount of space for the various solos.  I was particularly impressed with Shaney Forbes’ drum solo in the first half.  The material chosen was eclectic, featuring forays into the back catalogue of Sarah Vaughn (“Sassy”), Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, and many others.

If the aim was to convey “the feel” of what it was like in the early days of an evening in Ronnie Scott’s Club, then the quintet certainly succeeded.  A near-packed house was treated to a great evening’s entertainment, and lapped it all up.  A rousing call for an encore was the least they deserved.  A really great night out.  Let’s hope someone in town now picks up the jazz baton again!

Devizes Arts Festival continues for the next week, with a large range of events, including several fringe (free!) events at various venues around the town.  See www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk/ for further details and booking information.  Of particular note are An Evening With Sally Barker (featuring the songs of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny) at The Town Hall tomorrow (Saturday) 13th November, and a rousing finale dance night with Motown Gold next Friday 19th November.  Some tickets for both are still available.


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REVIEW – TITCO’s Switch The Lights Back On! @ The Wharf Theatre, Devizes – Tuesday 9th November 2021

TITCO Hit the Ground Running

Andy Fawthrop

That’s it – the set is now complete!  Back in August we had the Fulltone Orchestra striking up once again after a long enforced lay-off.  In September Devizes Musical Theatre shyly peeked out from behind the showbiz curtain.  October saw White Horse Opera step out onto the stage, and now, in November, TITCO have finally switched on the lights back on!  And what a delight it was to have them back, completing the fantastic range of local music offerings based in D-Town.

Switched from the earlier venue of St Mary’s to the, perhaps more suitable, surroundings of the Wharf Theatre, TITCO hit the stage with their presentation “Switch The Lights Back On”.  From Chris Worthy’s opening number of “Wilkommen” from Cabaret, right through to the closing ensemble rendition of The Proclaimers’ “Over And Done With” we had a fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The two-hour programme included songs from Cabaret, Cats, Jesus Chris Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, School of Rock, Joseph, Spamalot, Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Hamilton, Once, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and Sunshine on Leith.  The numbers chosen were not always the usual ones from those shows, not always the obvious biggest “hits” that one would normally think of, but great songs nevertheless.  The items chosen, and the sequence of those songs, nicely showcased the individual talents of the cast members, giving most of them at least one solo, with duets and ensemble numbers.  It certainly worked for me.

The staging was simple and sparse, allowing the music to do all the talking.  Dressed all in black, with little in the way of colour or props to distract the eye, the songs were completely to the front.  Musical accompaniment was understated, but absolutely spot-on, provided by Dominic Irving on keyboard, Lou Hewitt on bass, and Becky Nottingham on percussion.  And in front of them, although it’s always a little unfair to single out particular individuals, the stars of the night (for me at least) were Chris Worthy, Mari Webster, Matt Dauncey and Jemma Brown.  But there were strong performances all round.  And I also have to give a special mention to our local Fulltone Orchestra musical arranger and baton-wielder, Anthony Brown.  I’m so used to seeing him from the back conducting his orchestra, that I’d almost forgotten what he looked like, and that he has a wonderful voice!  Respect!

The show’s finale consisted of three songs from “Sunshine On Leith”, the musical by Stephen Greenhorn, based on the music of The Proclaimers, a fitting trailer for the full-length production which will take place at St Mary’s, Devizes next June 2022.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable show.  Full disclosure – I’m not the greatest fan of musicals – but even I couldn’t help but warmly applaud this splendid show.  And I was in good company – the audience throughout was loud and enthusiastic in their well-deserved rounds of applause.

The show runs through to Saturday 13th November, and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending that you get along and see it.  There are still a few tickets left (but not many!) – I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, and that you’ll have a great night out.  Trust me!


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Spoiled Rotten in Devizes this November with Devizes Arts Festival, The Wharf Theatre, Long Street, TITCO, DOCA and more!

Spoiled Rotten in Devizes this November you are. In what is usually a quiet month leading up to yule, the easing of lockdown has detonated the month, opening it up as anyone’s game. It’s just so good to see a chockful event calendar for the whole county, and so many event organisers making a Rocky Balboa style comeback.

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Aside our dependable Southgate, who’ve led the way for events in Devizes, and continue to provide top notch live music every weekend, free I might add, it’s exciting to see the Cavalier, The Muck & Dundar, and even the Condado Lounge in the running.

There are some big guns coming out too, as we welcome back the Wharf Theatre, who hosted The Paul Simon Story last weekend, and the return of the Invitation Theatre Company from Tuesday (9th) to Saturday (13th) this coming week. The Long Street Blues Club are back in force with three gigs this month, the Gerry Jablonski Band Saturday 13th, Force on the 20th, which is such a whopper it’s coming out of The Corn Exchange rather than usual Cons Club, and the Antonio Forcione Quartet on the 27th.

If it’s sounding good so far, we’ve not even touched on Devizes Eisteddfod from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th, The Lawrence Art Society’s exhibition at the Town Hall from 25th to the 27th, and of course DOCA bring the Winter Festival and lantern parade on the 26th.

With all that I’ve mentioned it would be understandable to have overlooked the icing on the cake; Devizes Arts Festival surprisingly pops up to host some awesome events this month, when it’s usually confined to more summery months. Despite we’ve outlined the individual gigs lined up at the Arts Festival, back when it was announced in August, such has lockdown caused much jiggery-pokery with the dates of such things, and not forgoing I’d suspect the Arts Festival got itchy fingers and simply couldn’t wait until summertime to present us with some amazing performances, these things need reminders, so here I am!

Though the opening gig, Thursday’s Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Jazz Club Tour has sold out, tickets for the others are on the table awaiting your attention, plus, of course there’s free fringe events across town too. Let’s have another look at what’s on offer here, to wet your appetite shall we?

Under the banner, “the show must go on,” the Arts Festival are delighted to welcome Sally Barker to Devizes, on the 13th. In this new show ‘Sandy, Joni & Me’ she will bring some of the songs of both Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny to the stage, exploring the singer/songwriter legacy that was forged in the early ’70s.

Veteran folk-blues singer/songwriter Sally Barker became Tom Jones’ finalist on The Voice UK 2014 after reducing her mentor, and many watching the TV, to tears with her performances. Sally has toured with Sir Tom, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant amongst others. Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans said, “Sally changes the atmosphere in a room when she sings.”

And Friday 19th is Motown Gold time at the Corn Exchange. Dust off your dancing shoes for a fabulous evening from a fantastic band. Motown Gold celebrate the finest songs from the timeless Motown and Classic Soul era, which kind of speaks for itself.

As for free Fringe events, The Muck & Dundar have loop pedal guru Arif Najak bringing laid-back reggae sounds on Friday 12th. Sunday 14th is at New Society, where you’ll find Bristol’s dynamic jazz vocalist Lucy Moon, performing energetic swing and classic swing-era tunes to liven up your Sunday lunchtime. Booking is essential for this one, contact New Society to reserve your table.

There’s a couple more fringe events before the Arts Festival’s grand Motown finale; South Wales’s Big Sky are at The Crown on Wednesday 17th, with roots rock infused with touches of blues, country and psychedelia, they are known for being one of the few bands containing brothers who have not yet had an on-stage altercation! And Thursday 18th sees Mark Harrison at the Three Crowns. An original and interesting songwriter, a stunning guitarist, and a master storyteller.

It is, in all my years of running Devizine, the biggest November I’ve ever seen! But the Devizes Arts Festival doesn’t stop there, this is just filling a gap. I asked artistic director Margaret Bryant if there will be something in the pipeline for a summer arts festival too, and she replied “yes, we’re already planning 2022!”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, just look forward to November; get your Devizes Arts Festival tickets here, for all other gigs and events, see our event calendar for links and info; see you out and about, folks!


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REVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Top Of The Ops @Town Hall, Devizes – Friday 29th October 2021

Love Potions & Family Curses

by Andy Fawthrop

Another sign that things are slowly getting back to normal was the re-emergence on Friday night of the rarely-seen, but very talented, White Horse Opera with their first post-Covid presentation of the dodgily-titled show “Top Of The Ops” in the splendid surroundings of Devizes Town Hall.  I think the title was meant to be a play on words involving the word “opera”, but never mind.

The two-hour-plus show featured excerpts from two comic operas – Donizetti’s “L’Elisir D’Amore” (the Elixir of Love) and Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Ruddigore”, together with several other pieces.  The purpose in selecting these two particular operas was to highlight the fact that the company are planning to perform them both in full in 2022 – the Donizetti next October, and the G&S as a bookable touring production for local venues from Spring onwards.

But on Friday night (also reprised on Saturday night), the emphasis was on presenting a rich selection of items, and to get singing once more in front of a paying audience.  We kicked off with guest tenor Carlos Alonso leading the charge into the Donizetti, with strong support from in-house principals Lisa House and Stephen Grimshaw.  And before we reached the interval we had highlights from Mozart, Saint-Saens, Bizet, Gounod, and Borodin amongst others.  Paula Boyagis and Barbara Gompels were the stand-out performers here.

The Town Hall is a splendid venue for this sort of music, with its high ceiling, great acoustics, and plush formal decoration.  The only minor problem is the chandelier-based lighting, which makes it difficult to dim the lights in the audience whilst leaving the action on stage well-illuminated.  But this is a tiny quibble when compared to the overall glory of the historic surroundings.

On to the second half, which took more of a sideways step in its selection of items.  A particular highlight for me was Lewis Cowen’s rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “Masochism Tango”, which I discovered I was still nearly word-perfect on, but that’s just my particular perversion.  We also had pieces from Flanders & Swann, Kismet, West Side Story, and Little Shop of Horrors.  But the key pieces were from Gilbert & Sullivan’s fantastical comic opera “Ruddigore”, a particular favourite of mine.  This featured some nice solos from Chrissie Higgs and Jess Phillips, but with strong and fulsome support from the whole company.  Pianist Tony James, the sole musician, was impeccable in providing bright and upbeat accompaniment.

So by the end of the evening we were all au fait (and very well-acquainted!) with such musical technical terms as glissando (sliding from one note to another) and colatura (elaborate ornamentation).  I’m no expert, and couldn’t carry a tune if you gave me a large bucket, but I know what I like when I hear it, and I definitely liked all of tonight’s performance.  Not only did it sound good, but it was obvious that the performers were enjoying themselves, and the packed audience certainly appreciated it.  Great night out & amazingly good value for a tenner!

Future WHO events:

18th December                                 Fauré ‘s Requiem/ Christmas Concert7.30pm St John’s Church Devizes

Sat 8th Jan 2022                               Top of the Ops                                   7.30pm West Lavington Village Hall

Spring 2022                                        Ruddigore                                           7.30pm Venues TBA

26th, 28th & 29th Oct 2022          L’elisir d’amore                                 7.30pm Lavington School

More information on WHO is available at www.whitehorseopera.co.uk


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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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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


Win 2 Free Tickets HERE!

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The Next Wharf Theatre Production Will Be Glorious!

How will the Wharf Theatre follow the huge success of Jesus Christ Superstar? I can tell you this much; it will be Glorious!

How do I know? Press release, see, the production is called Glorious, and it’s the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, dubbed “The Worst Singer in the World!” A play by Peter Quilter, directed by Liz Sharman, neither of whom have obviously heard me singing in the shower!

It enjoyed a West End run, starring Maureen Lipman, and takes a more humorous approach to its subject matter than the recent Meryl Streep film. Our wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes are running it from Monday 25th – Saturday 30th October, shows at 7.30pm.

Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) was an American soprano, socialite and philanthropist.  Her love of music and performing became evident at a young age when she played the piano and performed at various functions under the name of ‘Little Miss Foster’; on one occasion even performing at the White House.

After graduating high school, she nursed dreams of going to Europe to study music but her father staunchly refused.  When an accident then left her unable to play the piano to the level she had previously, she reluctantly pursued a career as a piano teacher.

In 1909, after one failed marriage, she met British actor, St Clair Bayfield, who remained her partner for the rest of her life.  That same year her father died and, having been left a considerable fortune, she seized the opportunity to pursue her singing dreams despite having little obvious talent.

The poet William Meredith wrote that a Jenkins recital, “was never exactly an aesthetic experience, or only to the degree that an early Christian among the lions provided aesthetic experience; it was chiefly immolatory, and Madame Jenkins was always eaten, in the end.”

In the 1920’s she began financing her own shows and with her charm and shining costumes she did, in many ways, find success. In reality she was both adored and mocked by her audiences but although now considered possibly the worst opera singer in the world, who sang out of tune and had no discernible rhythm people still remember her.

One especially amusing anecdote tells of Florence’s high-pitched scream when in a taxi once, which collided with another car. Arriving home, she made haste for her piano, confirming, least to herself, that the note she had shrieked was the mythical F above high C, a pitch she had never before been able to reach. Ecstatic, she refused to press charges against either involved party, and even sent the taxi driver a box of expensive cigars.

But the most perplexing question surrounding her life was whether she was in on the joke, or honestly believed she had vocal talent, this remains a matter of debate. This hilarious farce picks up her story in 1940’s New York, and sounds a blast!

This amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd http://www.concordtheatricals.co.uk

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.


WIN 2 Tickets HERE

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REVIEW: Devizes Town Band – Proms in Hillworth Park –Sunday 12th September 2021

Sun Shining & All Is Well with The World

Andy Fawthrop

Does anybody else feel like things are starting to roll again?  I mean like “normal”? – not the “new normal”, not the “old normal”, but just “normal”?  Just me then?!

After snuggling up with the BBC on Saturday night to witness the old “last night of the Proms”, with a cup of warm Horlicks and a packet of McVities digestives, and remembering that this was what it’s always been like at this time of year, I came over all nostalgic.  You know what I mean – the slide into Crimbo & the New Year via “putting the clocks back”, Halloween, Gunpowder Plot (and Thanksgiving if you’re of a Yankee persuasion).  And the “it must be Autumn because Strictly’s started up again”.  Yeah – all that.  Soon be snow on the ground, blah, blah, blah…

Well, Sunday in Hillworth Park proved that there’s still a bit of life left in the old Summer yet, and it’s not quite time to pull out the long-johns and big coat.  A large group of D-Town citizens turned out with camping chairs and picnic blankets to be royally entertained by Fantasy Radio (broadcasting live), the talented young singer Chloe Jordan, and the massed might of the Devizes Town Band, with their version of Proms In The Park.  Children played, dogs scampered around, people ate ice-creams and queued for the loos.  This was England!  This was Summer!  All good traditional stuff.

Chloe Jordan

We were treated to a wonderfully varied programme of songs and music, ably MC’d by Mark Jones of Fantasy Radio 97FM, and under the direction of the enthusiastic Sharon Lindo.  There were great solos from Jim Keenahan and Bruce MacDonald, ensemble and orchestral pieces, and of course the traditional rousing coda of Sailor’s Hornpipe, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem (beautifully rendered by Chloe), and the National Anthem.  We had everything – clapping, singing, dancing, flag-waving – from the enthusiastic crowd.  If anyone was feeling a little blue after months of Lockdown, no-one had told the hundreds of people who were out to enjoy themselves.  And they rewarded the performers with a pretty darned good ovation at the end.  Perhaps we ought to ask the Town Council to build us a bandstand?  Just a thought. (Yes Andy, I suggested this too; Ed!)

A really cracking way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Next Devizes Town Band concert – Sunday 31st October in the Corn Exchange

Future Events in Hillworth Park: Party In The Park – Fantasy Radio – 2pm to 5pm 19th September 2021


WIN! Two tickets to Gary in Punderland @ The Corn Exchange

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REVIEW: Devizes Musical Theatre’s “A Gallery Of Rogues” @ Lavington Community Centre –Saturday 11th September 2021

Yes M’Lud!

By Andy Fawthrop

It’s not often that you’ll get me schlepping down to a Community Hall in the middle of nowhere (well, OK, Lavington) on a Saturday night for a dose of Light Opera, but…well…it seemed like a good warm-up for the BBC Last Night of the Proms which was due to be broadcast later that night – and so it proved to be.

Devizes Musical Theatre (DMT), in their wisdom, had chosen this slightly out-of-the-way place to perform “A Gallery of Rogues” as their 2021 production (their first since 2019 following Lockdown for most of last year). And thus, breezing my way past the various posters for WI and other local events, I found myself in this rather modern and well equipped hall.

The evening was in two parts – the first being a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial By Jury”, a one act comic opera, and the second being the company performing a number of well known songs from many different musical shows.

“Trial by Jury” is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was first produced in 1875, at London’s Royalty Theatre, where it initially ran for 131 performances and was considered a hit. The story concerns a “breach of promise of marriage” lawsuit in which the judge and the legal system are the objects of light-hearted satire. As with most G&S operas, the plot of “Trial by Jury” is ludicrous, but the characters behave as if the events were perfectly reasonable. This narrative technique blunts some of the pointed barbs aimed at hypocrisy, especially of those in authority, and the sometimes base motives of supposedly respectable people and institutions. The success of “Trial by Jury” launched the famous series of 13 collaborative works between Gilbert and Sullivan that came to be known as the Savoy Operas.

In this production, using mostly modern dress, no scenery, and virtually no props, the guys and gals from DMT had nowhere to hide. Using only a simple piano accompaniment, it was down to the strength and quality of the voices only. And, after a slightly nervous start, they pretty well nailed it, with each singer growing in confidence as the play progressed. The call-and-response choruses, so beloved of G&S fans, were used to great effect and the whole production swung along with very few flaws. Of particular note were Naomi Ibbetson as The Plaintiff, and Tom Hazell as The Defendant. The supporting roles, especially the three bridesmaids, were also strongly played to great effect.

The second half consisted of a series of songs from various musicals including “Cats”, “Oliver” and “The Wizard of Oz”, culminating in a full-cast version of the Lockdown classic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Not a dry eye in the house.

For me, it was a good evening of entertainment, and well worth the trip out to Lavington. And I’d say the rest of the audience agreed, as the applause was hard and long. However, I’m still mystified as to why a concert that clearly took a lot of time and effort to be produced was only to be given this single performance, and why at such an out-of-town venue. Surely more people would have gone to see DMT in action if this had used a more Devizes-central location?

Future DMT productions:

The Wind in the Willows – 3rd to 10th April 2022 at Dauntsey’s School


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Some Reasons Why I Enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at The Wharf

One reason why I enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at Devizes Wharf Theatre yesterday evening, is similar to why I like sci-fi and fantasy genres.

No, hear me out, long winded it maybe, but there’s a point! With sci-fi you can take an earth-bound concept, and moving it from its usual perimeters, see it for what it truly is, without being predetermined via propaganda or personal opinion. Example; racism. Take a green coloured race of aliens fighting with a blue race, and from outside looking in you can see how completely meaningless and rash it is.

Jesus Christ Superstar throws out preconceptions of this renowned Easter story, bought about by biblical re-enactments and more commonly accepted adaptions. In essence, it’s a rock opera, opera is tragedy, and rock music is modernised, least it was when Tim Rice and Andrew Llyod Webber created it.

I often wonder what it was like for Michael Jackson, in the limo to the show, mobbed by obsessive devotees throwing themselves unashamedly at him. In a way, the tragic desolation and isolation of fame is more the subject in question, rather than the biblical Easter story. Just like our sci-fi scenario, it never suggests a religious connection, never states definitively that Jesus is the son of God. It takes the story out of the usual context and reconnects the dots.

The set is deliberately void, mostly of black backdrop, and props are minimal. Rather than a school play’s amateurishly painted scene, the darkness leaves the setting to your imagination. While Nazareth and Rome are mentioned, there’s no depiction of it. The concentration is flowed into the characters and music. For Jesus here is unlike another representation; in fact, I’d argue Brian from Monty Python’s “Life of” is closer! Played convincingly by Jordan Overton, if this was intentional, I found Jesus actually quite irritating. Far from blasphemous given the circumstances, for here he’s unforgiving, frustrated at the mounting iconic hysteria surrounding him. Probably more likely how it would be, especially in the modern era.

If Jordan made a grand job of it, more so did the surrounding characters, for Judas is Jerry if Jesus is Tom, the tension between the two the narrative. Arguably Peter Assirati’s performance is passionately executed greater, the focus on his despair is equal pegging, as Judas feels overexposure will be Jesus’s ruin. Like washed up rock stars or actors in the modern era, we know from tragedies like Marylin Monroe, to Whitney and Kurt Cobain, the feeling is real. In a way then, the lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred, another reason why I liked this piece of musical theatre.

More general is the third reason; the Wharf is such a splendid asset to Devizes. This historic shoebox theatre central to town is so welcoming, if the doormat was curled at the edge staff would lie over it so you don’t trip. Chat in the auditorium is not of condescending theatre-goers and thespians, rather an almost family ambience with an age demographic to match. As with most venues, lockdown flogged this theatre, kicking it while it was down. Those who can, bearing in mind ticket stubs here are far more reasonably priced than city playhouses, are dutybound to help it to its feet. I witnessed said devotion firmly in place already, as Jesus Christ Superstar plays to a full house.

The fourth reason I enjoyed it is simply the surprise element. I went in critical, didn’t expect to actually like it, given the theme tune’s school playground variant of yore, set to ridicule it with Yamahas and dustbin lids, was wedged in my mind. Anyone younger will have to ask Alexa about this; I’ve exposed my age enough already!

I tip my hat to the performances of additional characters, Pete Winterton casted perfectly for the seventies-fashioned game show host version of Herod, breathing one humorous element to the tragedy, at least! Francis Holmes as Caiaphas made for the textbook managerial role and convincingly bellowed his solo with professionalism.

Emma Holmes and Chris Smith’s recitals of Simon and Peter, respectively, being especially poignant. None so much though as Mary Magdalene, played by Cassy Swann, who, with her astute expressions of woe and loyalty, her superior voice commanded the stage above all else. In this, full credit has also to be awarded to Victoria Warren, music director, and the band, Jennifer Cardno, Bob Ball, Claire Borovac and John Joy, for limited to a four-piece, amalgamated the show to epic and euphoric proportions.

You should note, if you go see this, at the time, amidst the hullabaloo surrounding its controversial subject, it took the best part of decade to alter from rock opera album to the stage in London, and only because of its success in the USA. True music fans will recognise this more as an album of music than a play, ergo the dynamics of elaborate stage effects are deliberately stripped back, the opening of Jesus Christ Superstar rightfully displays the band playing the overture prior to actors taking their stance. But go see it you should; decide quick and seize a ticket post haste. It’s only running at the Wharf Theatre until this Saturday, the 18th September, and last time I checked, tickets are up for grabs weekdays, Saturday is sold out.

Please buy our compilation album of local music, all proceeds go to Julia’s House, thank you!
WIN 2 tickets to Gary in Punderland @ Devizes Corn Exchange by clicking on the poster!

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A Gallery of Rogues: Devizes Musical Theatre is Back!

A Gallery of Rogues, huh? Can’t be, they look okay to me; it’s always the quiet one. I’m just pleased to hear the Devizes Musical Theatre is back and coming to a Market Lavington Community Hall near you!

Presenting a complete performance of “Trial by Jury,” W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan together witha collection of other ditties, performed by members of the cast, and directed by Laura Deacon and Susan Braunton.

On the 21st October 1965, Devizes Musical Theatre (formerly named ‘Devizes Light Operatic Society’)  was born. A society committed to the arts, with an emphasis on fun, team work and a love for all things musical. Since, ‘DMT’ has grown into the talented, passionate and friendly society that it is today.

The society performs two full-scale productions each year with a number of concerts and showcases alongside these. In two sections; youth (‘DMT Footlights’) or adult, aged 8 or 80 they have something for you! On stage, behind the scenes or front of house alike, they are always keen to welcome new people.

Rehearsals began in a back garden and they’re now ready to bring you a large slice of G&S, followed by a pot pourri of songs. A light-hearted evening’s entertainment for all the family, on 11th September. Doors at 7:30pm, £7 payable on the door. Or email chairman@devizesmusicaltheatre.co.uk to reserve your tickets.


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Gull Able

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

Devizes Street Festival; Black Rat Monday Lives on….

There are two giant kangaroos hopping through Long Street in Devizes, one bantering to a passer-by in a mock-Aussie accent, “no, I’m not into bondage, you can’t tie me down, sport!”

Meanwhile a gypsy woman riding a quad-cycle with a double bass attached follows a dapper man in top hat and tails, playing a piano on wheels, adorned with flowery ornaments and mirrors, past the Nationwide on Maryport Street. This isn’t your archetypal afternoon in town, this is a scattered post-lockdown version of DOCA’s beloved Devizes Street Festival, and while this isn’t going to be quite as simple for me to angle this time around, it is, unarguably, something fantastic.

With the main stage outside the Corn Exchange missing this year, there was no centrepiece binding the annual event together, therefore from the outside looking in, one could perceive it being all rather mishmash. I feel this was intentional, to avoid crowding, and a wise move considering the circumstances. The crucial point is, the magic was still there, for all ages; side stalls, street food, fairground rides, static and wandering circus acts and street theatre all played as colourful and lively part of the street festival as it ever did, it was just dispersed around the town centre.

If the lack of live music was a shame this time around, least it drew attention to side attractions. I’ve a particular penchant for the offbeat street theatre, fondly reminding me of sunny Glastonbury festivals of yore. It is, then, precisely this, and the variety of side attractions, especially catering for children which spells out to me, this is so much more than the perceived monumental piss-up locals dub, “Black Rat Monday,” with its monocultured ethos of cider-swigging debauchery.

However, and this is a big however, if DOCA wishes to cast off this label, that is it’s prerogative to do so, but they should note the nickname is not to be taken seriously, it is all part of a running joke in true west country fashion, an inward banter of ironic overstatement. Folk know it’s more than the sum of downing as much cider as they can, that’s the joke. Backside of the coin, though, a large part of the community does want exactly that. Far from loutish behaviour, the spirit of eat, drink and be merry is imbedded in our history.

But, as of yet, there’s no indication DOCA wish to cast the namesake off, being despite informing The British Lion, after their mainstay position serving the apple poison about-centre for a mere couple of decades, that their presence is no longer required, they themselves sold Black Rat cider solely other than Pimm’s, at their own bar. I sigh at this, considered titling this piece, “a shame,” but supposed later, DOCA’s overheads must be ginormous, laying such a memorable and legendary event on for free, scraping a tad back from sales of said cider plays a small part and the need to do this is understandable.

I’m impartial on this one, not here to cast accusations or play a blame game, taking on board, and agreeing with much of the hearsay and rumours revolving through the natives, though. Local politics isn’t my bag, if there’s monopolising tactics at the root of this, I think that’s unfair and certainly not in the community spirit of the event, at all.

And there it lies, in a word; community. Keep the “international” in the title, by all means, I, and I believe I speak for most of us when I say bringing the worldwide stage to our doorsteps with a plethora of top world music acts is a wonderful idea and we love DOCA for it, but this doubles-up, and always did, as a festival for the community. DOCA abide by this with plentiful locally sourced side attractions, but personally I think we need to honour local talent too.

I’d welcome artistic director Loz to give me a bell come the time for booking acts, and be it from my own personal judgement or a Facebook poll, ask me to name two local acts who deserve to be on the main stage billing. And at least two do, those who’ve excelled through these challenging times and take a little piece of Devizes with them around the country. If it’s a mouthful to call it, “the Devizes International Community Street Festival,” then just “Devizes Street Festival” will suffice.

Of course, DOCA did take heed, and allowed a secondary local music stage in 2019, of which Pete and Jackie of Vinyl Realm completely funded and organised. This was something beautiful, and became a key feature of the street festival that year. But no matter how large this goes, it will always feel like a bolt-on, when what I’d really appreciate is the pick of local talent up on that main stage.

There, said my piece, and don’t wish to end on a sour note, not that it was, just constructive criticism. Children are trampolining in Sidmouth Street, while a couple of, what can only be described as “rock n roll slappers” entice passers-by to peak into their ‘peepshow’ wooden box at the other end. Limbo dancers outside the town hall, with a man rolling around inside an oversized metal hull-a-hoop, and a giant exoskeleton puppet wanders down the Brittox, stopping to sniff the hanging baskets. How can I possibly be critical about any of this? Rising against the challenges, DOCA made an absolutely fantastic show of colour, curiosity and entertainment, amidst vibrant atmosphere, this is a town-wide show unlike any other and should never be taken for granted.

I tip my hat to DOCA as a samba band play by the Market Place cross, but I feel impelled to check out the British Lion, all things considered, and that lengthy beer garden sure is alive with punters, those loyal to the Black Rat. Tom Harris, Pat Ward, Claire et all, play unplugged as a barbeque for Dorothy House sizzles and friends gather to mark their appreciation of “the British.” And that is the true meaning of “community,” it doesn’t need props and extravagant shows, it just takes hospitality and compromise.

That said I’m pleased to see those trampolines, extending the street festival out from the Market Place, as it’s a stone throw from the welcoming pub, and combined it into the event rather than making it feel out on a limb, and for that, for the whole bank holiday weekend, what with Full Tone frenzy too, Devizes is truly great, when it works together. The British Lion is an institution here in the ‘Vizes, the reliably stable free house has stood the test of time with little need to fix its unbroken charm. This is the only regular gig on their calendar which sees them gallivanting from their bar and making an appearance in the Market Place, something which has become equally as traditional as the event itself. It is a shame not to have them present this year. Competition is healthily, remember, a range of breweries can compromise and find a solution, of that, I’m certain, and look forward to the possibility it will be so in future years.


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Blue Sky Festival Returns to Corsham’s Pound Arts

Blue Sky Festival returns to Corsham’s Pound Arts this July. The thriving arts centre will be filled with music, dance, film, family entertainment and workshops, plus outdoor theatre. There really is something for everyone, including Claymation model-making workshops with Aardman Animations, music from upcoming Americana soulstress Lady Nade, and the breath-taking folky ambiance of Emily … Continue reading “Blue Sky Festival Returns to Corsham’s Pound Arts”

Boot Hills Take The Barge

If there’s one business to be in during this period of paced easing of lockdown, it must be the marquee business, it’s another for pubs to adequately comprehend what to put inside them. Establishments erect a tent and furnish it with tables so punters can eat and drink alfresco, and some might have an acoustic … Continue reading “Boot Hills Take The Barge”

Song of the Day 40: Dry White Bones

Venturing over to the Barge tonight to catch crazy corsets and getars shenanigans with the Boot Hill All Stars. So, to get me in the mood, supporting act Dry White Bones gets our song of the day…. yee-ha! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Lady Nade; Willing

Americana folk singer-songwriter Lady Nade beautifully attributes her granddad for her traits, in the song Peace and Calm, citing his love of gardening as his mellowed happy place. Wonderfully sentimental, the boot fits, as is this stunningly crafted new album, Willing, released yesterday, and undoubtedly the reason why she plays to a sold-out audience tonight … Continue reading “Lady Nade; Willing”

Ska-Punk-Folk-Whatever, From The Before Times, with Boom Boom Racoon

Blagging biros and stationery from banks and post offices, we’ve all been there, but few driven to pen a song about it. It’s one valid reason to love the righteous but riotous simplicity of Bristol-based anarchistic vegan folky-ska-punk misfits, Boom Boom Racoon. Those aware, who thought 2018’s album by the trio, Now That’s What I … Continue reading “Ska-Punk-Folk-Whatever, From The Before Times, with Boom Boom Racoon”

What’s Happening in September?

That’s it, one big blowout of a bank holiday weekend and August is kaput. Nights drawing in, the fall will be here before you can say “was that it, summer?” Given last years blazing heatwave, while we were couped up, this summer’s been comparatively damp, you could’ve have made it up. There were lots of great things to do, and that doesn’t show signs of slowing through next month.

So, check in and scroll down to see what’s happening this bank holiday, where’s there’s more than enough just in Devizes alone to keep us busy. Awesome, firstly, to see Swindon’s indie-pop stars, Talk in Code will join our favourite Daydream Runaways, for the first Friday night of music down at The Southgate. Then the town goes festival crazy, for three solid days! Full-Tone Festival hits the Green, Saturday and Sunday, and Monday you have to get down to the Market Place for our wonderful, Devizes Street Festival and the Colour Rush.

September 2021Once you’ve gotten over that, September then, here’s the highlights:

Running now until the 4th, Four artists exhibit at Trowbridge Town Hall. A selection of 2D and 3D works by local artists Deborah Clement, Sonja Kuratle, Jennie Quigley and Jane Scrivener.

It was in August 1979 that arguably Swindon’s greatest-ever band, XTC, released their first commercially successful album, 42 years on, original drummer Terry Chambers pays tribute as EXTC, at Swindon’s Victoria on Thursday 2nd.

Following night, Friday 3rd, the Pink Floyd-Fleetwood Mac double-tribute act, Pink Mac will stand on the same stage, at the Vic, while The Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club presents an evening with Sloe Train at Owl Lodge in Lacock, and Corsham’s Pound Arts has comedy with the brilliantly titled “Rescheduled Rescheduled Rescheduled Time Show Tour 2021” by Rob Auton.

Burbage celebrates their the 24th Beer, Cider and Music Festival, with Humdinger and Kova me Badd.

Saturday 4th and there’s a Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long with the Twilight Cinema at Hillworth Park, yet it will be loud down Devizes Southgate, with a welcome return of NervEndings, Fangs & The Tyrants sound equally as loud, they’re at Swindon’s Vic. For a more chilled evening, Cara Dillon plays the Neeld. An extraordinary, captivating Irish singer Mojo magazine claims to be “quite possibly the world’s most beautiful female voice.”

It is also good to see the Melksham Assembly Hall back in the biz, they have Travelling Wilbury tribute, The Unravelling Wilburys! And there’s a unique blend of melodic folk-pop blowing out from Trowbridge Town Hall as Bristol band Sugarmoon come to town.

One to overshadow the lot, is The Concert at the Kings at All Cannings, happening over the weekend. Great line-up for Rock against Cancer, as ever, with Billy Ocean headlining Saturday and 10CC on Sunday, albeit they seem completely unresponsive to messages from us. While I accept the strength of booked acts alone means they need no local press presence, it’s a shame they won’t care to respond; it would be great to cover this.

Ah well, Sunday rocks anyway, with an incredible booking by The Southgate, mind-blowingly awesome US blues outfit of Well-Hung Heart, with a local twist, Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse play. Not to be missed. Westwards, Schtumm presents Will Lawton & The Alchemists with support by Hazir at the Queens Head, Box, and north, Syteria play the Vic, with Adam & The Hellcats and Awakening Savannah.

Oh, and The Lions Clubs of Trowbridge & Westbury have their White Horse Classic & Vintage Vehicle Show on Sunday 5th too!

Second weekend of September and things just get better, from Thursday to Sunday, the place to be is Swindon. The free roaming festival is back, with a line-up across too many venues to list, see the poster. The Swindon Shuffle is truly a testament to local music, everyone who is anyone will be there, in the words of Zaphod Beeblebrox.

It’s time for Jesus Christ Superstar to magically appear in Devizes, as the Wharf Theatre showcases the retro musical, opening Friday 10th, running until 18th.

A hidden gem in the heart of the Wylye valley, the Vintage Nostalgia Festival begins too, running until Sunday at Stockton Park, near Warminster. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, Great Scott, Shana Mai and the Mayhems all headline, with those crazy The Ukey D’ukes and our favourites The Roughcut Rebels also play. Lucky if you’re off to the Tangled Roots Festival in Radstock, all sold out.

Closer to home though, Saturday 11th sees the Stert Country House Car Boot Sale, for Cancer Research, the Corsham Street Fair, Women in Rock at the Neeld and The Rock Orchestra by Candlelight at Swindon’s MECA. Eddie Martin’s solo album launch, Birdcage Sessions, at the Southgate, Devizes and the awesome Will Lawton and the Alchemists are at Trowbridge Town Hall. Two Tone All Ska’s play Chippenham’s Consti Club.

Staying in Trowbridge, Rockhoppaz at the Park for an Alzheimer’s Support Gig on Sunday 12th. Meanwhile it’s Hillworth Proms in the Park with Devizes Town Band, and the incredible homegrown guitar virtuoso, Innes Sibun is at The Southgate.  

Third weeks into September, find some jazz with Emma Harris & Graham Dent Duo at Il Ponte Ristorante Italiano, in Bradford-on-Avon. By Thursday 16th, The Derellas play the Vic, and a welcomed reopening of the the Seend Community Centre sees our good friends Celtic Roots Collective play on Friday 17th.

Also Friday, in Swindon, Road Trip play The Vic, and Hawkwind, yes, Hawkwind at MECA!

It’s Dauntsey Academy Scarecrow Trail and there’s a Happy Circus in aid of Nursteed School in Devizes on Saturday 18th, and the welcomed return of Devizes Long Street Blues Club, with the Billy Walton Band. People Like Us are playing The Churchill Arms in West Lavington, ELO Beatles Beyond at Melksham Assembly Hall, and the amazing Onika Venus is at Trowbridge Town Hall.

Sunday 19th sees the Rock The Rec for Macmillan Cancer Support, free fundraiser at Calne Recreation Club.

On Thursday 23rd Antoine & Owena support the The Lost Trades at Komedia, Bath, Steve Knightley plays the Neeld, and there’s ‘An autobiographical journey of a deaf person trapped in a hearing world’ calledLouder Is Not Always Clearer at Pound Arts.

Tom Odell is at Marlborough College Memorial Hall on Friday 24th, and Fossil Fools play the Vic in Swindon.

Sat 25th sees the opening of the Devizes Food & Drink Festival, with the market. A Full Preview of everything happening at HERE. The HooDoos do The Southgate.

Meanwhile, Melksham Rock n Roll Club presents Johnnie Fox & The Hunters, Juice Menace play Trowbridge Town Hall. Wildwood Kin at Christ Church, Old Town, Swindon, and, this will go off; Talk in Code, The Dirty Smooth & The Vooz at the Vic, while tributes to Katy Perry vs Taylor Swift @ MECA.

Award for the most interesting thing to do this Saturday goes to Pound Arts. Sh!t Theatre Drink Rum with Expats is a production which contains distressing themes, images covering topics including migration and political assassination, plus a dog onstage; make of that what you will!

By the end of the month things look a little sportier, with bookworms, Sunday 26th is The Hullavington Full Marathon & 10K, travel author and TV presenter Simon Reeve talks at Dauntseys on Wednesday 29th, Thursday sees the opening of Marlborough Literature Festival.

But this list is by no means exhaustive, stuff to do is coming in all the time, making it near impossible to keep up, you need to regularly check our event calendar. Help me to help you by letting me know of your events, and if you’ve the time, write us a preview or review, I can’t be everywhere at once, and sometimes get so overloaded I just want to slouch on the sofa watching Netflix!

Have a good September!


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Best of Luck to The Real Cheesemakers, Selected for National Musical Comedy Awards

Wishing the best of luck to Wiltshire’s homegrown musical comedians, the nonsensical Real Cheesemakers, who have been selected for the 2021 national Musical Comedy Awards.

Far from matured, the crazy Calne four-piece released their “Grated Hits,” last year, which we fondly reviewed in February 2020.  

They will play at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, London, on 25th September, competing with nine other acts vying for a place in the final at the Bloomsbury Theatre in October. Let’s they hope those city dwellers appreciate our West Country humour, and get the jokes about Cheddar Gorge and the roundabouts of Swindon!

“It was serendipitous to learn that an event exists that not only encourages, but rewards the type of nonsense that we have been creating for so very long,” say the Cheesemakers. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to now showcase it to more people.”

The Musical Comedy Awards (MCAs) is an annual competition to support, promote and celebrate the best emerging musical comedians in the UK. Now in its eighth year, the MCAs have grown in stature to become an annual fixture in the comedy calendar.

MCAs has provided a launch pad to superstar acts like Frisky & Manish, Abandoman and Jay Foreman and created a thriving independent platform to celebrate the art-form that is musical comedy.

You cannot vote online for this, band member Greg Stoner told me it’s all based on judges and audience reaction, but we’re rooting for you all the same here on Devizine, guys!

Tickets available here. Meanwhile, in the land of the Bumbley Boo, or Swindon to its citizens, you might be lucky to find The Real Cheesemakers at the Swindon Shuffle, Friday 10th September at the Castle, with Richard Davies & The Dissidents headlining that venue, with Room 101, Pretty Vacant and Port in a Storm.


Andy Hamilton, Definitely Coming to Swindon!

Here we are again, déjà vu. I’m taking to knocking our previews I’ve done before, stating back in early March last year, “apparently, the UK just cannot live too long without spending An Evening with Andy Hamilton and so he’s back for another short run of his ‘up close and personal’ show this summer, just to keep us happy.” And went onto inform the show comes to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on a date in May, which obviously didn’t, like just about everything, didn’t happen.

I’m glad to announce one of the most noted comedy writers and directors of the last few decades, Andy Hamilton has been rescheduled for Sunday 19th September, same place, let’s just pretend 2020 didn’t happen, shall we?

Because, sigh, and thank the stars for copy and paste, this is an evening of reminiscence and revelation, which looks back over his forty years in comedy and sixty(ish) years on the planet.

Audiences will have the opportunity to ask Andy questions on any topic as he takes a look back at his very extensive professional career in comedy. Beginning in 1976 as a contributor to Radio 4’s Weekending, Andy went on to pick up a raft of awards for co-writing and co-directing such household TV classics as Drop The Dead Donkey and Outnumbered.

His TV satires turned up the heat on Westminster with Ballot Monkeys and Power Monkeys, and he and his co-writer Guy Jenkin also penned and directed the hit British comedy feature film What We Did On Our Holiday. “In the spring,” I wrote last time around, “their latest sitcom Kate & Koji, starring Brenda Blethyn and Jimmy Akingbola, will air on ITV.” Of which it did, consisting of six episodes which concluded in April, and a second series is in the pipeline.

Andy’s numerous TV and radio credits include Have I Got News For You, QI, Andy Hamilton Sort of Remembers, The News Quiz, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and Old Harry’s Game. Andy’s debut novel, The Star Witness, is available via Outbound, and his handwritten (yes, handwritten!) epic fairy-tale comedy novel, Longhand was published last September.

Tickets for his show, An Evening with Andy Hamilton on 19th September at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre are here.


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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…..