Devizine 5th Birthday!

Right then you lot, Devizine is five years old today, or at least it was when I begun this monumental mission of reminiscing on how, why and what the hell I was thinking when I started it in the first place. Question is, do you want the short story, or the long, drawn-out one?

Oh well, that’s just tough luck then, isn’t it?! You can’t stop me in full shit stream, because, everyone’s good at something, mine is endlessly waffling on about crap, so that’s what I’m going to do. In the words of the unforgettable Lesley Gore, it’s my party I can waffle on about crap if I want to, or something like that.

In consolation, I’ve sprinkled this piece with a lot of lovely photos, well, it’s been five years and we’ve a lot to show off about. And what a wonderful ride it’s been; dancing, dodging, meeting so many wonderful and talented people, rattling a few cages, and I hope it will continue to be so, if I do say so myself.

Best, if any, place to start is childhood aspirations. Note, I never had any dreams of writing, let alone journalism. English at school was a pet hate, like every other subject, especially spelling, I was atrochous…… atreechois…. really bad at it.

Though I have to humour the media industry, I’d grow to detest Fleet Street wank-stains. To be a cartoonist was the thing for me, the like of Charles Schultz or Jim Davis favourably, they did, after all, make the most money. But I’d write for magazines, zines and FINs I submitted cartoon strips for in support, because they needed writers…. bloody slave drivers.

As time moved on and I created my own comic, reviewing works of other creative types within it was an aid to networking, and, most importantly, getting freebies. I also suffered with a lack of writers but plenty of artists, so I’d script for them, and gradually the writing took prominence over the artwork.

Self-publishing is a labour of love, and any excuse for procrastination was on the cards. Unpredictably stumbling upon family life was the perfect excuse for giving it up; there were nappies which needed changing before cross-hatching a nudy caricature of Cameron Diaz, and besides, I’d grown out of the psychedelic nature of the zine; fatherhood can change a lad. Word of warning, whippersnappers.

But once bitten, the creative cannot help but create, that’s why they call them creatives, see? I picked self-publishing up again when eBooks came around, as it was easy, and not so time consuming. As an author I spaffed out more books than Boris Johnson did lies, happy as a method of improving my writing skills; though it’s still a learning cuve…. curth… bendy thing. And okay, that’s the same joke, get used to it.

Devizine came about simply for looking at other avenues in which to offload my wobbly words to the unfortunate world. I pitched to satirical, (or “fake news,” to gammons of which satire is above their understanding) websites, but was only sporadically successful, even lesser-so my attempt to create my own satirical website, called Poop Scoop. Until I noticed a new local news-site called Index;Wiltshire. There, finally through this insane waffling lies the kingpin to Devizine.

The editor wrote to me, “you’re the most powerful person in Devizes,” as my weekly rant column amassed a thousandfold more hits than MP James Gray’s did. Dishonest flattery works; I marched on, slagging off everything that was shit about Devizes as I could possibly think of, for humorous effect, you understand? Some didn’t, and Monday morning hate-mail filled my inbox, which was amusing to start with but being grew tedious.

Aside common complaints from any medium-sized market town, the joke wore thin due to decreasing ammo. Devizes is actually a great place to live; could be better, like freewheeling Frome, or like Tijuana, the murder capital of the world, it could be worse. The need to keep the ideas flowing caused me to post a gathering material question on a local Facebook group. It was Jemma Brown who raised the most important point: why didn’t I focus on the positives about living in Devizes? Of course, she was bang on the money, but it simply wouldn’t do, for that’s not the nature of satire, that’s not the idea of “No Surprises Living in Devizes.”

At the time, I’d just crawled out from my hermit hole and seen for myself talent lurking in the mists of this Tory haven. Richie Triangle played The Black Swan, spurring me to meet Tamsin Quin, who was crowdfunding for a debut album. Jemma, naturally was aiming my attention to her productions, as the TITCO theatre company. I wrote of my findings in an ever-increasingly heavily edited version of my rant column, claiming I was spinning the negatives around, though it was lagging in ethos, because to know me is to know I’m happy-go-lucky, and I couldn’t keep the pretence of being some kind of left-wing Alf Garnett any longer.

The column suddenly became more about what events were forthcoming in Devizes, rather then ranting about how rubbish everything was. I think at one point I joked, “what do I look like, some kind of event guide now?!” Not realising I’d predicted the outcome.

Frustrated the column was so heavily edited, now a new editor took over, I took to publishing them on a personal blog, but blogs need love and attention, in other words shameless self-promotion. Devizine though, as I came to knock up a new blog with the idea of doing precisely what we do now, promotes itself, as featured creative types share the fact they’ve been featured, and generally, people seemed to flock to this gap in the market. The first ever article was an unedited version of the that week’s column, the second was about Tamsin’s Crowdfunder.

I never understood, and probably never will, why aside perpetual splashes on national news stories as an aid to fund submissions to scoop sites, regional newspapers here couldn’t at least mention, or give credit to all the talented people here too. There’s room in a newspaper for both surely? But their downfall is our triumph. Devizine is now the go-to to what to do, the rest of it is me just mucking about!

This, coupled with our policy of brute honesty, will always be why Devizine has become something of a (slightly) respectable local institution. Though it may not have started out this way, because a few who were supposed to be responsible for what’s on sections of local media outlets fell short of lifting a finger, and thought it better to sought to trash Devizine’s pending reputation. Funny world, I thought Devizine would be welcomed, and I opened, and still do, my arms to the chances to work with them regardless; c’est la vie.

I believe it’s levelled now. Hardly anyone posts on local Facebook groups, “any live music going on tonight?” And if they do, rather than being directed to Devizine by yours truly, someone else beats me to the recommendation. Which brings me nicely on to the ten zillion quintillion thank you accreditations.

For aside my waffling, the bulk of this article is nothing more than a tedious clip show, which has taken longer to load up than I planned, probably be the sixth birthday by the time I publish it! Maybe we’ll refer to it as a “photo gallery in dial-up connection speed!”

Cider in one hand trying applause without spillages, my photography skills are best avoided whenever possible. Though I do believe I’m getting better, nothing illustrates a review better than a professional or semi-pro photographer. We’ve used and abused so many, and other than Nick Padmore, who makes me sit on his knee, most of them allow us to use their wonderful snaps for free! Which is handy, cos Devizine has not made millionaires out of us, quite yet.

So, a massive thank you, which would deserve a huge hug, if I wasn’t to wonder if that was a zoom lens in their pockets, rather than them being pleased to see me, and also an apology, there’s so many photos here it’d be a minefield wracking my miniscule mind recalling who took what, so excuse me, I hope that you don’t mind, I’ve not been able to credit them individually. Take it as red, though, the out of focus ones are likely from me. The rest I owe to so many photographers, some mentioned here and now: Gail Foster, Nick Padmore, Simon Folkard, Helen PolarPix, Ruth Wordly, Matthew Hennessy, Abbie Asadi, and Chris Dunn of Inscope Design. Please give them a virtual applause and go check out their work via their websites and social media.

But everyone needs a thank you, don’t they? So many good people have come to my rescue, submitted reviews, scoops and content, to make Devizine both comprehensive, and how I see it; a community-led, erm, thingy. I’d appreciate any help I can get, I’m totally overloaded here, and apologise to things I’ve missed, but Mrs Miggins has to get her pint of semi, also. You know you run a what’s on guide when Facebook pings the notification, “you have 55 events this weekend!”

Sporadically then writers have contributed, and I have Ian Diddams, Jemma Brown, TD Rose, Jenny Dalton, Phil Bradley, and Helen Robertson to sincerely thank too. But none more than our esteemed man in the field, the brilliant Andy Fawthrop, for his constant bombardment of most excellent reviews have been a godsend, to the point we need a statue of the good fellow here, front and centre of the lobby in the prestigious Devizine Towers. Seriously, if I cannot get hold of any marble, though, it might have to be made of paper cups.

All I have to say now is thanks everyone, everyone who has supported us, everyone I missed on the roll-call, contributed in some way, and that’s a long list, folk like the ones who’ve helped us out with technical bobs and bits; Ida McConnell, and musically, Dean Czerwionka, Mike Barham, Cath, Gouldy and the DayBreakers, Clifton Powell and Nick Newman, Daydream Runaways and The Roughcut Rebels.

Or those who’ve given their time to play for us at one of our fundraising gigs, the above mentioned, plus, Chole Jordan, Will Foulstone, Tamsin Quin, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins, George Wilding, Bryony Cox, Lottie Jenkins, Mirko Pangrazzi, Bran Kerdhynen, Finley Trusler and Sam Bishop.

And I think I’ve waffled enough; sorry if I missed anyone, but they know who they are. Bloody love ’em too, I do; group hug.

Being the Wiltshire Air Ambulance bear, touring homemade breweries, the Palace cinema, spending a day with Clifton Powell with Arts Together, going behind the scenes with DOCA, a day on tour with Talk in Code, press screening of Follow the Crows, riding an E-bike with Sustainable Devizes, meeting Neville Staple backstage, plus all the event invites, and so much more my brain is aching, there’s been so many fond memories, but I think, if you had to ask me to pick just one, it’d have to be the time I did my milk round in my Spiderman onesie and met with Carmela Chillery-Watson and her lovely family. A day I’ll never forget.

It leaves me now, to sign off, you must be tired looking at all those people having fun, but I did pre-warn you about my waffling! Enjoy the remaining pictures in our picture show, maybe you’ve spotted yourself in there, five or less years younger. If so, I want you to know, you’re still that gorgeous, gorgeous for showing us your support and partying with us; here’s to another five years, gorgeous!!

Trivia: What is the most popular article on Devizine to-date?

A: The April Fools Day joke 2021, when I announced, McDonalds was coming to Devizes. I believe that one broke the internet! Sad, but true.

Trivia: When did you first force Andy Fawthrop against his will and better judgement, to write reviews?

A: I believe it was October 2018, and the first review was Joe Hicks at the Three Crowns; I maybe wrong, I often am.

Trivia: Who was that country looking gent who used mascot on Devizine?

A: I don’t know, stop hassling me with inane questions like a fanboy at a Star Trek convention!

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 8th-14th September 2022

Slight seasonal changes, wetter but still warm, slight Prime Minister changes, dryer but still a narcissistic numpty; ah well, let’s see, a day later than usual I know and apologise, what’s happening in Wiltshire over the next week……

The one link you need as usual, is our event calendar, where it’s all listed with ticket and info links, and it’s updated (fairly) regularly, so bookmark the beast and remain as you will be after reading this; in the know.  

Thursday 8th and there’s the Swindon Comedy Club at Kioki, with headliner Abi Clarke.

Friday 9th Hedda Gabler begins at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes and runs until 24th September. Hedda Gabler is recognised as one of the world’s great plays written by one of the world’s great playwrights and is generally regarded as Ibsen’s masterpiece. Hedda, on the face of it, is not your archetypal tragic heroine. Starting quietly, and quite humorously, the drama builds to its terrifying and riveting climax, involving the presentation set of pistols that Hedda inherited from her father.

One to watch, Sour Apple play the Pelican in Devizes on Friday, and look out for a new music program called Vamos, at The Old Road Tavern, Chippenham, they’ve got the wonderful Harmony Asia supporting Hoggs Bison. And find Illingworth at The Royal Oak in Marlborough, all free gigs.

“Hurrah, they are back to School” runs the tagline of the end of summer barbeque at Seend Community Centre.

Our renowned house DJ, George G Force is at Marston Park, Frome, while tribute The Smyths play The Cheese & Grain. Festival season hasn’t quite closed yet, it’s The Mucky Weekender Festival at the Winchester Bowl.

Meanwhile, In Swindon, Dangerous Kitchen play The Vic, The Salts at Swindon Arts Centre, and A Country Night in Nashville at the Wyvern Theatre.

Saturday 10th and back by popular demand, the start of the legendary Pewsey Carnival, yay! Procession is next Saturday 17th, with the Wheelbeero race on Thursday 15th, but this Saturday is Pewsey Carnival Wine Race.

Our editor’s pick of the week; Party for Life, Melksham

A world suicide prevention day fundraiser in the Sky Bar at Melksham Town FC. The Soul Strutters, Blind Lemon Experience and Roughcut Rebels play this big one, with DJs and pizza and others; sounds fantastic, we did preview it a while back, and I believe a few tickets are still up for grabs, follow their Facebook page for more details.

Staying in the Sham, The Pilot has a Family fun day with music and, fundraising for MIND, see the poster for details.

Crafts, stalls and entertainment are promised at Devizes Rotary Club’s Health & Wellbeing Showcase on the Small Green from 11am-3pm on Saturday, and for a musical evening in Devizes, rock covers band Black Nasty are at The Southgate, while People Like Us do their awesome thing at the Three Crowns.

Time also, for the Burbage Beer, Cider & Music Festival.

Another upcoming local band to watch is Salisbury indie-kids Carsick, who plan to blow the lid off of Trowbridge Town Hall.

Contrasts in Swindon as Rage Against the Regime play The Vic, while Shape Of You brings the music of Ed Sheeran to the Wyvern Theatre.

You might have caught him at Devizes Arts Festival this summer, Alfie Moore’s show Fair Cop Unleashed comes to Salisbury Arts Centre.

No prizes for guessing who Motorheadache is attributing, they’re at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Dana Gavanski plays their sister venue the Tree House, with Cornelia Murr in support.

And unfortunately, The International Comics Expo, ICE in Birmingham which I’ve still got listed, has been cancelled, I’m just being too lazy to delete it!   

Sunday 11th, after terrible weather last Sunday postponed Devizes Town Band’s Children’s Proms in the Park at Hillworth, it will be combined this week with the planned main Proms in the Park.  

And save a Recital Series at Swindon Arts Centre, also on Sunday, that about wraps it up for the weekend, unless you know different? Unless you dare to tell me that I missed something?! Please do, I don’t bite, at least only a nip, on the bum; it’s free to list stuff on Devizine, just message us, we’re in it for the love.

Through the week I’ve not got much, but you know updates of the event calendar occasionally happens, though I’m currently undergoing the arduous task of getting next year’s calendar up and running, so bear with, bear with.

Tuesday 13th, I’ve got Kaleidoscopic at Salisbury Arts Centre and a RSPB: A Victorian Birder’s Wiltshire at the same venue.

Next week though you can look forward to Pewsey carnival, Swindon Shuffle, and the White Horse Opera is back too, along with lots more events to get your teeth into; I’ll catch you around at one sometime, maybe? What else are you going to do, “Simpsonise” yourself with a phone app; get real?!!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 1st-7th September 2022

It might not be bank holiday, but it’s not blank holiday, if you see what I mean? Nah, forget it; here’s what’s happening over the next week in Wiltshire.

Pinch punch, Thursday is the first of September, and I’ve got nothing, yet! Do keep a check when updates come into our event calendar, the one link you need for info on all the stuff below and for planning future events.

Friday 2nd is the Wax Palace’s Kaleidoscope Festival in Erlestoke, ravers, there’s also the End of the Road Festival, Salisbury way on the Dorset border, and the Punchbowl Festival in Codford.

Closer to us, The Devizes Living Room has a “bloc-party,” on the Green, all welcome. Potterne Social Club has People Like Us, The Roughcut Rebels play The Barge Inn at Seend Cleeve, Navajo Dogs are at The New Inn, Winterbourne Monkton.

Comedy at The Boathouse, Bradford-on-Avon with Sally-Anne Heywood.

And over in Swindon, you’ll find the Groove Club Collective at The Vic, Mac N Cheese at the Queen’s Tap, and The Total Stone Roses playing Level III.

Saturday 3rd, and it’s the start of Salisbury Art Trail, running until 18th September.

It’s Malmesbury Carnival, the Melksham Food & River Festival, and Tripwire Presents Bristol Comic Con over the weekend. Lego fans check out The Cheese & Grain, Frome where there’s a Lego show and market, Brickin’ It!

Editor’s Pick of The Week

In Devizes it’s Confetti Battle time, and the Colour Rush, yay! No tokens this year, so you will just need to line up to buy you confetti so arrive early to avoid the queues. You’ll still need to line up to collect your confetti prior to the 8pm kick-off.

As far as we know Devizes is the only town in the world that has a Confetti Battle tradition. No one can remember the first official battle but we know its roots date back to the old Devizes Carnival in 1913, where confetti and rose petals were thrown by the crowd at people in the procession. The tradition evolved into a fully-fledged battle around 1955 when it was started by Jim Jennings; should make it my editor’s pick of the of the week really.

This year the Confetti Battle continues to grow and the colourful chaos has been added to with the introduction of the Colour Rush, an amazing 5 km mixed terrain fun run – what better way to arrive at a Confetti Battle than covered in multi-coloured powder!

There is no ‘battle’ as such, just a very silly half-hour during which a lot of fun is had, and a lot of confetti is thrown about. Expect to get ‘attacked’ by complete strangers throwing paper!  The Battle continues to gain popularity and 2017 saw over 3500 people take part. The event takes place at the finish line of our new Colour Rush 5k run so expect to see some exceptionally colourful visitors in the crowd.

Jennings funfair is in the Market Place on Friday 2nd September until Sunday 3rd of September operating between 5.30 pm until 11.00 pm.

The DOCA website says “keep your eyes peeled when collecting your confetti as one lucky person will receive a Golden Ticket in a confetti bag,” it continues so say, “this will entitle…” and then it ends, so I’ve no idea what the golden ticket entitles you to! Maybe they need to keep their eyes peeled on their typos, but I guess they’re too busy making fun for us all, and I, for one, bless them for it.

Staying in Devizes for confetti free events, Jamie R Hawkins will be at The Southgate, while Paradox plays The Cellar Bar of the Bear Hotel. Tamsin Quin plays the Barge on HoneyStreet.

Wiltshire BKA Honey Bee Health Day at Market Lavington, some Carnival Music by Jenny Bracey at The Crown in Aldbourne. Local Heroes Inc play Prestbury Sports Bar, Warminster.

In Swindon Moonwire and Lung at The Vic, Dragon Eye at The Rolleston, Larkhill at the Queens Tap, Echo at Coleview Community Centre and Dreuw & Will Killen at The Hop Inn.

Sunday 4th September, and there’s a RSPCA fun dog show on the Green in Devizes, and the monthly residency of Jon Amor at the Southgate at 5pm, featuring guest Nat Martin.

Composer-pianist and creative coder, Larkhall will be taking his innovative live show to venues across the UK this year, he comes to Schtum in Box on Sunday, and playing Pound Arts in Corsham on the 9th.

White Horse Classic and Vintage Vehicle Show in Westbury, and Minety has a Beer & Cider Festival.  

Rainbow Fest at The Olive Tree Cafe in Swindon, promises crafts, live Music and poetry for £2 entry (under 12 free) with all funds going to charities supporting LGBQIA+. Meanwhile, local acoustic duo Sweet Nightingale play Queens Park.

And that’s your weekend, folks. Monday 5th sees a live art Demonstration by Artist Paul Oakley at Devizes Conservative Club, organised by the Lawrence Society of Art. And that for now is all I have for midweek, but I promise to do some digging and update the event calendar more often, pinky promise.

Okay, that leaves me with stuff to get prepared for, that means buying tickets, dammit! September 10th sees the Party For Life fundraiser at Melksham Town FC, details here, get yourself a ticket for this, raising funds and awareness of Suicide prevention.

Also, the Wharf Theatre opens for its Autumn/winter season with Hedda Gabler running from 9th to the 24th. Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Devizes Food & Drink Festival, Swindon Shuffle and Swindon Folk & Blues Festival; it’s still happening, summer isn’t through…. yet!

And if you’ve still found nothing to interest you, stay in and listen to our new volume of the 4 Julia’s House compilation album, which we released last week. 35 amazing, locally-sourced songs, and all the proceeds go to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices; thank you!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 24th – 31st August 2022

We can’t wait until roundup Tuesday, when we usually roundup the weekly roundup, it’s the last big summer blowout bank holiday, so we’re simply too excited and thought you might wanna plan early, so here it is, hold on to your horses… or just let them run wild, I’m not worried, just too excited, did I say I was too excited?!

Repetition is fine, but there’s no links here, too time-consuming, so please us this link to our event calendar, and you can grab details and ticket links from there, but you knew that already, I hope. Oh, did I say, repetition is fine?

All quiet on Wednesday 24th, but if you’re eager to get the ball rolling, 41 Fords play the Kilminton Home Guard Club in Warminster, entry by donation, and don’t forget Wednesday s are the regular acoustic jam night down our trusty Southgate in Devizes, and is always a wonderful night.


Thursday 25th then, and Honey Fest kicks off at the Barge on HoneyStreet, and banging out the whole weekend; I believe there’s a few tickets up for grabs.

Meanwhile, unmissable rock soloist Adam Masterson plays The Tuppenny in Swindon with Jules Hill in support. Bath Forum have The Billy Joel Songbook, and lots of lucky people will be making their way to either Reading Festival or GoatFest; have fun!


Warming up to Friday, the 26th August, when our brilliant Irish folk duo, the Celtic Roots Collective are at the Pelican in Devizes.

Over in the land of chips and ham, there’s an August Bank Holiday Beer & Cider Festival at the Three Crowns, and ska-punkers Operation77 play The Black Horse, Chippenham.

Illingworth takes on triple gigs this weekend, catch them at Flan O’Brian’s in Bath on Friday, where Komedia have a night with The Ministry of Burlesque’s Cabaret; ding dong!

Mod band Peloton plays The Vic, Swindon, and wow, the Cheese & Grain, Frome have Morcheeba, yes, I said Morcheeba; show offs!


Saturday 27th, is the big one. Shall I start it with the….

Editor’s Pick of Week: The Full Tone Festival, The Green, Devizes

Yep, you probably guessed it, it’s time for the hills of Devizes to come alive with the sound of music. It is the Full Tone Festival Weekend. Hurry and get your ticket, and say hi if you see me wandering around like a lost puppy. Said what needed to be said about this corker, let the show begin.

Over in Devizes Market Place from 9am-1pm there’s a Mind, Body & Spirit Market. There’s free live music all day at the Crown Inn, Bishops Cannings, with 12 Bars Later, Plan of Action, and It’s Complicated. Later, 12 Bars Later nip across to the Southgate, Devizes!

And where do I even begin elsewhere? Holt Scarecrow Trail begins, it’s Aldbourne Carnival, a Rod Stewart tribute at The Pewsham, Near Chippenham, there’s a Summer Party at Westbury Cons Club with Wade Merritt and Jay, followed by People Like Us, and the West of England Youth Orchestra perform at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

A debut performance, at the Gloucester Road Conservative Club in Trowbridge for soul band Dimensions, and that’s free entry. Kurt Vile & The Violators at Bath Forum, Apollo Ghosts at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, and in Swindon, the wonderful The Daybreakers are live at The Vic, while The Tin Shack Band play the Woodlands Edge. Oh, and The Swiss Chalet has a Harry’s Heroes fundraiser.


Sunday is where things usually start to calm down, but not this weekend. The 28th sees the second day of Full Tone, Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby and Potterne Festival.

Illingworth play The Churchill Arms in West Lavington today, and a young local band to watch out for, Nothing Rhymes With Orange are in support.

There’s a mini fest at the Talbot in Calne with Six O’clock Circus, People Like Us, Wet Frank, End of Story and others.

LodgeFest aptly at Warminster’s Lodge, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, and the Hammervilles have a bank holiday beach party at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Swindon is gearing up for the Shuffle next month, but in the meantime, Shades of Seattle plays the Vic, highly recommended Atari Pilot are at the Castle, and for the kids, there’s always Milkshake live at the Wyvern.


If you’re still standing in Devizes on Monday, 29th August, here’s what to do…. Black Rat Monday, down The British Lion, with the Celtic Roots Collective and a jam to follow. Or Finley & Mark support The Reason at the Three Crowns; nice either way!

From 5pm Illingworth will be at the Waterfront, Pewsey, and the Beverley May Band play The Milk Churn, Melksham. It’s the Chippenham River Festival, there’s a massive line-up for a free music festival across the entire village of Box, it is Box Rocks. The Lost Trades and Dolly Mavies headline a mini-festival at The Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, and Abba tribute 21st Century ABBA play The Bowl in Town Gardens, Swindon.

I’m sure there’s going to be more added as the week goes by, so keep up-to-date with our event calendar. That’s the weekend forecast to date, though.

Tuesday 30th and Gently Tender play The Royal Oak in Marlborough, the regular Jazz Knights at Swindon’s Royal Oak has the Kevin Figes Quartet, during the day there’s a Farmyard Circus at Queen’s Park, and Russell Brand comes to the Wyvern.

Wednesday 31st, look out for the Wind in the Willows at the Corsham Almshouses, and phew, that’s me done, dusted and ready for a nap; have a great weekend!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th-24th August 2022

Ah this is more like it, the English summer we know and love! Tad wet, but here’s what we have to do this week and the last weekend before the big summer blow-out which is the August Bank Holiday.….

Don’t forget, more info and all links for bookings are on our event calendar, where you can also plan ahead, so long as it keeps updating, which I’m trying my best to, honest!

There’s a floral demonstration at Devizes Town Hall on Wednesday 17th August, by the Devizes Flower Club; opens at 7pm, £5.

Parents head for the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon where there’s a messy art session and a singing day ahead.

Manchester’s noughties art rock band Everything Everything play the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 18th, and again, kids can visit The Musical Zoo at the wonderful Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Three bands at The Beehive, Swindon on Thursday, The Acoustic Buzz 52, Larkham & Hall and Jol Rose. Also, at The Vic the have Monasteries, Creak, Persadian & Chasing Dolls. The Summer Youth Project performance of Legally Blonde is at the Wyvern.


Onto Friday 19th, and it’s the Wine Tasting event at St Mary’s Devizes, previewed here.

If you’re lucky you can still book a fantastic Survival Camp for any young adventurous children who are aged between 10 years old and 12 years old, with the Wild Edge Survival Camp at West Lavington.

Folk duo Fly Yeti Fly are at The Bear Inn, Bradford on Avon, The Beverley May Band at The Kings Arms, Melksham, Hayden Lloyd at Komedia, Bath. @59 play The Wellington in Marlborough.

In Swindon, Judas Rising plays the Vic, while Bobbi Nicholles is at Woodlands Edge.


Saturday 20th, it’s my pick of the week; the Bath Comic & Gaming Festival at Bath Uni. Full of UK based comic artist guests, some film and tv guests and cosplay guests, a dinosaur zone, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters and Star Wars props, and lots of stuff for kids to empty fanboy dad’s wallet! Lord, help me!

Roots and folk at the Southgate Devizes, with Barney Kelly, and the welcome return of Long Street Blues Club with Skinny Molly, I believe is a sell-out. Worth checking though, I might be wrong, as, I sometimes am; I said sometimes!

Dutty Moonshine Big Band play The Barge, HoneyStreet, Emily Barker is at The Pump in Trowbridge, and another successful Pipe & Slippers Rave at Trowbridge Town Hall goes off; I have to see this for myself; dust off the old whistle and white gloves! Oh, and if Sausage & Cider is more your thing, there’s a Day of it at The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve.

Shame Live at Lydiard had to cancel, but People Like Us play The Swiss Chalet, Swindon and Click! are at Woodlands Edge.


Sunday afternoon on the 21st August then, has another Fantasy Radio Lark in Hillworth Park, Devizes, though I’ve no idea who’s playing, because they never say. But Chaz Throughgood is at the Southgate.

It’s the August Jam for the exclusive Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club, in their hiding place at Lacock, while the fantastic Sarah C. Ryan Band play a lazy afternoon at Richard Jefferies Museum, Swindon, and Jim Blackmann plays Komedia, Bath.

And that’s your weekend over. On Tuesday 23rd Radio Banska play Jazz Knights at The Royal Oak, Swindon, and at this moment in time I’ve nought else in the week until Thursday’s opening of HoneyFest at the Barge on HoneyStreet.

But it will be bank holiday next weekend, and there’s much to be looking into and planning. We’ll be at The Full Tone Festival on the Green in Devizes, and that one, I promise you, will be awesome, but not the same without you, so get your ticket as soon as possible!

But yeah, same weekend you can find Reading Festival, GoatFest, Potterne Festival, Holt Scarecrow Trail, the Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby, Mini Talbot Fest at The Talbot, Calne, LodgeFest at The Lodge, Warminster, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, Chippenham River Festival, a live music festival at the Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, 21st Century ABBA at The Bowl, Town Gardens, Swindon as well as multitude of smaller gigs at just about every local pub and venue you can mention; and it’s all here on our event calendar, just hope the rain gives it a break!


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Sad Day for Melksham Assembly Hall

The stalwart venue of Melksham is being viewed more like just a wart by town councillors, in a sad day which could see the closing curtain for the Assembly Hall.

Melksham News reported on the rumour I’ve been trying to hold back on, hoping the day wouldn’t come, that Melksham Assembly Hall and the Town Hall could be sold off under controversial plans being considered by Melksham Town Council.

More than once, Conservative Councillor Phil Alford contradicts himself in conversation with Melksham News, in the very same sentences!

Here he defends his case by telling the newspaper, “the Assembly Hall needs £400K for refurbishment,” but adds “we should build a new facility.” Is it just me being thick, I mean I’m no building contractor, but wouldn’t building a new facility cost more than repairing the one you’ve got?!

And does it even need this colossal cost for a refurb at all? It looks fine to me as it is, lick of paint, job done. Face it, Melksham, other than a handful of excellent local pubs, like the Pilot and Foresters supplying the town with live music, you’ve hardly any few entertainment venues as it is.

The Assembly Hall is a pillar to the community, with a brilliant programme and variety of events to suit everyone. From top class tribute acts, massive fundraising events such as the legendary Female of the Species gigs, which had to be shifted to Seend, to regular clubs such as the twenty-five year strong Rock n Roll Club drawing crowds from across the country, and even the popular male stripper nights. Perhaps it’s the latter offending Mr Alford; feeling somewhat inferior?!

Has the smokescreen got in your eyes yet? The new campus project has seen closure of the library and historic Blue Pool too; how many eggs does this Councillor want to put in the same basket, I sigh. “We now have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something about it,” he continues his pitch, why is it “a once-in-a-lifetime chance?” is there no chance of a backhander in the future?

He said this, He. Actually. Said. This. “Now is the time to be creative, trust residents, decide on a plan and move forward for the benefit of the town,” regardless of the simple fact, next Tuesday’s meeting to decide upon the fate of the hall has the proposal it should be held as a closed session, preventing the press and public from attending. If that’s the best method of involving public opinion then I’m the Queen of Sheba.

It’s begger’s belief how closing a venue would “benefit” a town, but the cavalry comes in the form of independent councillor Jon Hubbard, who told Melksham News, “we don’t know the details of the options yet, but the Assembly Hall is a massive asset to the town.

It’s one of the largest halls in Wiltshire, there is nothing else that can compete with it in terms of capacity and I think we would be quite mad to even contemplate getting rid of that without replacing it with an equivalent facility.

All of the plans I have seen have been talking about significantly smaller facilities and Melksham already has a wealth of smaller halls and I see no reason why the town council should invest taxpayers’ money into facilities which will compete with existing assets that the town has.”

Well said Jon, it goes in line with the original rumour circulating, that some councillors wanted the hall to be only for events which they feel benefitted the community, in which case they’re in the wrong job and should be an events coordinator rather than a councillor. The Assembly Hall is the brilliant venue hosting self-propelled events I wish we had here in Devizes. The running at a loss argument is piffle in a peroid of economic decline, they all are unfortunately. Especially when said peroid is a direct result of appalling national decisions of the political party Mr Alford himself supports.

The irony is blinding, but folk have hijacked the Facebook post to express their disappointment and point out the significance of the Assembly Hall. One said, “The Town Hall is the very fibre of this town’s history. Its location at the heart of Market Place is the embodiment of the pride we have for our town. To sell the building for private ownership is beyond conscionable.”

Another said, “The town hall is the focal point for nearly all the town events. Selling it off is 100% short sighted. People travel for miles to see melksham Xmas lights and other events, if the town hall goes we would lose those or they would move to melksham house which doesn’t have the same focus in the town.”

The post is here, you can comment, but I’d advise to take your opinion to Mr Alford himself, his email is: Phil.Alford@wiltshire.gov.uk


Events in Wiltshire Weekly Roundup: 14-17th July 2022

In the words of the King, “lord almighty, feel the temperature rising,” it’s set to be scorchio this weekend; here’s what we’ve found to occupy yourself, but remember the code portmanteau…. sunscreen! I’m a kinda radish colour now as I didn’t listen to my own advice, which you didn’t need to know, but I’m telling you anyway….

I’m also telling you, as usual I ain’t, as ain’t nobody got time for adding links to this here overview, find all the addition info you need and ticket links on our Event Calendar HERE.

Don’t forget Marlborough Open Studios ongoing until 24th July. On Thursday 14th July find Ray Cooper at Marlborough Folk Roots club.

By Friday 15th you should be prepared to get your booties movin’ with a bit of Salsa dancing at The Muck & Dundar, Devizes.

Dan Whitehouse plays the Pump, Trowbridge, Holly Carter at The Royal Oak, Bath, Road Trip at The Vic, Swindon, and this one needs no clarification; MeatLoud – Bat Out of Hades at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham! Ah, and breath, the fabulous Chicken Teddys gig at the Railway Inn, Yatton, The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Sound System at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and there’s outdoor theatre at Trowbridge Town Hall with Wuthering Heights.

Saturday is start of the Market Lavington Vintage Meet & Family Weekend. Rumours about cancelation is rubbish, this is going ahead, deffo, and tickets are still available.

Devizes sees its first Italian Auto Moto Festival in the Market Place on Saturday 16th and take Frunch at The Muck & Dundar with a pop-up kitchen. Staying in that lovely holiday-at-home rum bar, DJ James Threlfall plays a set in the evening. Live music spoiled for choice Devizions can find The Reason playing The Three Crowns, Rockhoppaz at the Southgate, or take a downhill walk to The Cross Keys, Rowde for The Life of Brian band.

It’s good news for Attack! The Wargames Show, as it finally makes a return to Devizes School on Saturday and Sunday. Over 30 trade stands with Military books, brushes, paints, terrain pieces and supplies (good for model railway enthusiasts too), models and figures. They have 100 competitors playing in 8 competitions and 12 participation games, to come and try. Plus, canteen and bar (provided by the British Lion). The show usually brings around 1000 people in so do come and see what the hobby is all about. This is the Facebook group to join for more details.

Or, for a rare opportunity these days; you can go to a record fair at Melksham’s Assembly Hall on Saturday.

Menu and Music at The Crown in Marlborough, Bottfest continues at The Seven Stars, Bottlesford with surfers Hooch, and a beach barbeque, although I’m not sure how a lorry carrying a beach is going to be able to squeeze around Bottlesford corner.

Billy in The Lowground play Trowbridge Town Hall, lovin’ the name, The Invincible Pigs at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Green Day tribute Green Haze at The Cheese & Grain, Frome. BlitzKidz at The Vic, and Miss Kel’s Dance Academy’s Legends at The Wyvern, Swindon.

Pick-of-the-Week

But eyes of Swindon should be on our pick-of-the-week this week, the town’s tribute to Dave Young at the Old Town Bowl, the ingeniously titled My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival.

The Swindon Shuffle, in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council and Dave’s friends and family are very pleased to bring you the 2nd ‘My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ – a tribute to Dave Young.

The event is once again happening in the beautiful surroundings of Town Gardens Bowl on Saturday 16th July, from midday until 10pm and is being held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar, who sadly died last June at the Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer. Profits from the event are being donated to the Prospect Hospice in Dave’s name – last years totalled over £14,000!

The event will take the shape of an all-day community music festival with a stellar line up of live acts, finished off with the high-energy Rave Against The Regime, a live band who play reinterpretations of synth-heavy dance music classics with no synths…

The rest of the line-up is headed by local alternative pop-rock act All ears Avow and also features Soul band Joli and the Souls, indie act Stay Lunar, Irish folk-punk outfit Mick O’Toole, Swindon Americana stalwarts The Shudders, Wiltshire Folk collective The Lost Trades, indie band Kicking Edgar and more. Plus, on the Bandstand stage acts like Baths Concrete Prairie and Swindon’s own Canute’s Plastic Army and Si & Matt Hall.

Alongside the music there will be plenty of activities for all the family, a huge local maker’s market courtesy of Swindie Makers Markets and food and drink from a variety of locally based vendors like Streets of India and a licenced bar by The Tuppenny.

Tickets are available online via seetickets.com (booking fee applies). Physical tickets are available from The Tuppenny and Holmes Music in Swindon and Tesco’s in Calne.

And that’s about your lot; bit of a quieter weekend, especially in Devizes; save some pennies for Beer Festival the next weekend. Find Marty Wilde & The Wildcats at The Wyvern, Swindon on Sunday, the Infant Voice Festival same place on Monday, with Sarah Millican’s Bobby Dazzler tour on Wednesday.

In Devizes on Tuesday 19th, it’s the Devizes Community Choir’s first performance at The Bear, The Big Sing; break a leg, guys!

Another recommended option for Wednesday is at Wiltshire Rural Music Centre, Trowbridge, where Daisy Chapman & Amelia Wise play an intimate set.

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REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival 2022

A Great Festival – Now What About The Future?

Andy Fawthrop

Well, the 2022 Devizes Arts Festival has now drawn to its successful close.  Thanks to a very determined and hard-working committee, this jewel in the D-Town crown was finally shining again.  Along with DOCA-led events like the International Street Festival, Carnival, Colour Rush, Lantern Parade etc, The Food & Drink Festival, the two Beer Festivals, and The Fulltone Music Festival, we are truly spoiled for the cultural life in our town.  We certainly punch way above our weight.….

This year the DAF ran from 9th to 25th June, a fortnight full of great entertainment – I counted 23 events at ten venues across town, showcasing a wide variety of the arts – jazz, classical, rock and country music, comedy, talks, walks.  Most, if not quite all, were well supported and I know that the organisers were pleased overall with ticket sales.  Bearing in mind that this Festival was effectively originally planned in 2019 and meant for delivery in 2020, it finally emerged blinking into the light of a post-Covid world in 2022.  A great job was done in rolling forward as many planned acts as possible, but there were inevitable casualties – some artists previously booked had understandably moved on and taken other bookings in the meantime. So, for the DAF Committee, it must have seemed a little bit like Groundhog Day in getting this thing finally done.

So what was so good about it?  Obviously tastes and opinions are going to differ, but attendances and ticket sales have to be a good indicator.  We saw some nationally-known stars – Lesley Garrett, Simon Calder, Adam Frost, Tankus The Henge, and Darius Brubeck making their way down to this part of rural Wiltshire.  For me, the personal highlights were The Scummy Mummies and Alfie Moore on the comedy side, and Tankus and Darius Brubeck on the musical front.  The spread and variety of events was impressive, the venues were well set up and organised, and the advertising was spot-on.

The things that might need a little further thought about were that some events/ venues weren’t sold out, that there were not more “affordable” events in the mix, and that there were only two Free Fringe events (although both were excellent and very well attended).  Perhaps these factors, and the lack of very much aimed specifically at a much younger audience, did lead to a preponderance of an (ahem) “older demographic” at quite a few events.  Clearly there were a couple of exceptions (Tankus and The Scummies spring to mind), but certainly something I couldn’t help but notice.

But, to be honest, a lot of this is minor quibbling.  The Festival overall was clearly an artistic success, and the DAF committee and volunteers deserve a hell of a lot of praise for getting off their arses and delivering a very high quality event in our town.  Hats off to the lot of them!

So what of the future?  What should we expect?  Already, as the dust settles on this year’s event and all the analysis starts, change is afoot.  The DAF organising committee itself is changing and evolving, as the Chair (Margaret Bryant) and Vice-chair (Vivienne Cuckow) step down from their roles.  Discussion and planning for 2023 and beyond will start shortly, with Vince McNamara and Jean Edwards stepping up to jointly fill the role of Chair.

The broad thinking at the moment is that, now that the “old” Festival has been (finally) delivered, 2023 can start with an almost completely blank sheet of paper.  The decks have been cleared, and the DAF committee are back in the saddle, raring to go.  Is that too many metaphors? – probably, but you get the drift.

There are (hopefully) new venues to think of – the Palace cinema, St. Mary’s, the Vaults and other pubs.  There is the possible prospect of conversations and more co-operation with other music venues in the town, and other Festival organisers – hopefully to mutual benefit.  There might well be more Free Fringe, especially on days/ times that don’t conflict with or overlap the more marquee main events.  Perhaps some choirs or singing events?  Perhaps more to appeal to a younger audience?  (But probably not children’s events – these have been tried several times in the past, but have not succeeded).   Because, whilst it’s important to have an open mind, it would clearly be foolish to completely ignore the hard lessons that have been learned in the past.  Experience has to be blended with innovative thinking.  It has to be a sensible and commercial balance between the completely experimental – bringing in the exotic, the different, unexpected – and the tried-and-trusted popular bankers.

Equally, whilst it’s always good to support artists from our local cultural scene, there needs to be a heavy sprinkling of national/ international stars that audiences in D-Town would never normally get to see at affordable prices.  Frankly, it’s the latter that sells most of the tickets, and the acts that look good on the posters and the advertising!

So it’s going to be a real tightrope walk for the new committee to get this just right.  I don’t envy them, but I do sincerely wish them the very best of luck!

Does this make you feel that you’d like to contribute your ideas and/ or your energy?  If so, I’m pretty sure DAF would like to hear from you – there’s plenty of work to be done to develop and shape a successful festival.  And/ or you can become a Friend of the Festival, volunteer, and – most importantly of all – buy those tickets! For more information see the Devizes Arts Festival website at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk/


Editor’s note: well, that kept our roving reporter Andy out of trouble for a fortnight! A massive thanks to you, Mr F, you’ve done an astounding job covering the Devizes Arts Festival. As opposed to me who danced my socks off at the fantastic Baila La Cumbia night. Here’s to 2023!


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Weekend Roundup: 30th June – 3rd July 2022

Full throttle into July, then; here’s what the weekend looks like around these parts. These parts of cultural void, so it’s claimed, we say otherwise…. You want proof?

As usual no links here, the only link you need is here, our event calendar. Have a great weekend whatever you do!

Ongoing from Wednesday until Sunday the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon has got Shrek the Musical. Thursday and Friday, Devizes Musical Theatre presents their Summer Concert, Miss Fortunes at The Wharf Theatre, see the poster, always see the posters!

I’m delighted to hear Devizes LGBTQ+ group’s first big event, Drag Bingo at the Exchange has sold out on Thursday 30th; well done to them and here’s hoping for some similar events in Devizes in the future.

One of folk music’s greatest innovators, Martin Carthy is at Trowbridge Town Hall Thursday, Paul Jones Live in Concert at Christ Church, Swindon while Swindon Arts Centre has a play called Blithe Spirit, running until Sunday.

Friday is pinch punch. Chippenham Comedy Festival at The Old Road Tavern, starts, running all weekend. Limited Weekend Tickets £60, individual shows are all £7 each. Friday 1st July: 7pm Sam Michael & John Matthews: Cister Act, 8.30pm Juliette Meyers: Passport Face,10pm James Dowdeswell: Beers of a Clown. Saturday 2nd July: 5pm Jo Caulfield: Here Comes Trouble, 6.30pm Sooz Kempner: Playstation, 7.45pm Katie Mitchell: She Festers, 9pm Andrew O’Neill: We Are Not In The Least Afraid Of Ruins; We Carry A New World In Our Hearts, 10.15pm Wil Hodgson: Barbicidal Tendencies. Sunday 3rd July: 5.30pm Jessie Nixon, Dannie Johns & Millie Haswell: Dumb Belles,7pm Joe Wells: I am Autistic, 8.30pm Beth Black.

Devizes School Summer School Concert in the main hall. Minety Festival kicks off for the weekend. Melksham’s One Love reggae night has been moved from the Assembly Hall to Spencer’s Club on Beanacre Road, I just haven’t changed the poster, so forget all I said about paying attention to the posters!!

The Ukey Dukes play The New Inn, Winterbourne Monkton. Ska punkers head to The Barge at Honeystreet, for Slageri J headline there, and surfers should wipe-out at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, where they’ll find the highly recommended Palooka 5. Rorke’s Drift play The Vic, Swindon, and fresh(ish) from Glasto, Jo Whiley plays 90s Anthems at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 2nd, Longleat continues showing off; those who don’t mind standing for hours, with a bottomless wallet and advance planning can see Tears for Fears, the rest of us are not left without options…. like Salisbury Pride at Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

Arts Together fundraise with a day painting at Bowood, see the poster for real this time!

Six O’clock Circus headline The Vale of the White Horse Scooter Rally at The Cooper’s Arms, Pewsey. While there’s a reggae day at The Wheatsheaf, Calne; the Bee Skas play at 3pm!

The Seven Stars in Bottlesford has a Burger BBQ for twenty quid, but you do get The Reason playing.

The amazing Jack Grace is at Southgate, and popular covers band Paradox are down the Cellar Bar in Devizes; yes, I did say The Cellar Bar, glad to see this venue back on our listings.

Band X at the Three Horseshoes Bradford-on-Avon, Siren at the 12 Bells, Trowbridge, with Hatepenny rocking the Town Hall. @Fest mini-festival at the White Hart in Attsworth. Down & Dirty at The Vic, Swindon.

Swindon’s Midlife Krisis sound system was due to setup at The Barge at HoneyStreet, however, due to issues with their secondary camping field it is unfortunately cancelled. We wish the Barge all the best with this issue, and hope it can be resolved as soon as possible.

Sunday 3rd July is DOCA’s Picnic at Hillworth Park. British Blues with Trevor Babajack Steger from 12pm, from 1pm, find some jazz-tinged klezmer and old-world Yiddish folk, from Mozzle Brocha, branch of the collective, Chai for All, who we tried to get to play a Ukraine fundraiser at St Mary’s, but it unfortunately fell through. It will be good to meet you, guys.   

Eastern European folk traditions follow that with East of Eden at 2:40, South African at 4pm with Otto & The Mutapa Calling, finishing off your Sunday entertainment. Also look out for Rose Popay, the “Art Tart,” sounds hilarious, and various carnival workshops, suitable for all ages; see the DOCA website.

Elsewhere, People Like Us headline free live music for Inspire Warminster, preview here. The Cosmic Sausages play The Bell, Bath, The Lost Hills play The Tap & Barrel, Swindon. Blues legend Andy Fairweather Low plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome, with Ruzz Guitar in support, and oh, it’s Aldbourne Doggy Day!

That’s your weekend wrapped up, unless I missed anything? Did you let us know? It’s not too late, I can edit our event calendar, if you’re nice and send cake!


Through the week you can catch a Live Art Demonstration by the wonderful Caroline le Bourgeois at Devizes Conservative Club on Monday 4th, meanwhile David Olusoga presents A House Through Time at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Tuesday sees carparks in Devizes closed for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay; for a whole half-hour! Heaven help us! Keyboard warriors, I’d advise you walk or bus it into town to get your garibaldi biscuits!

The New Forest Folk Festival starts Wednesday, while there’s a bit of Shakey at Bath’s Rondo Theatre, Macbeth; all proceeds go to Marie Curie. Best of luck to the two Devizes actors appearing in this, Lucy Upward and Ian Diddams; break a leg!

Next weekend you need tickets for a fundraising concert for Devizes GAC’s chosen charity, Julia’s House Children’s Hospice, at Devizes School Hall, on Friday July 8th at 7.30pm. Special guests at the concert will be the Pewsey Belles Ladies Choir. Tickets are priced £8 and available from 01761 472468.

Both Readipop Festival and Cornbury Festival, next weekend, and of course, Devizes Carnival and Trowbridge’s ParkFest, both on the Saturday 9th. I believe I’ll be painting the whole village purple at Bishop’s Cannings mini festival at The Crown; please come and support this too. And on Sunday, give our Essex country-rocker favourites, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective a warm Devizes welcome at the Southgate.

And if you’ve read this far I salute you; people like you who pay attention really need to grab up tickets to the Full-Tone Festival August Bank Holiday, AND Devizes Scooter Rally, AND Devizes Beer Festival too!


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REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Alfie Moore’s Fair Cop Unleashed @ Corn Exchange 24th June 2022

Criminal Humour

Andy Fawthrop

The Devizes Arts Festival left it late in their programme to unleash one of its comedy big guns Friday night, but it was well worth the wait. And a huge audience packed out the Corn Exchange to witness some great comedy in action…..

Alfie Moore is a comparatively recent talent to come on to the comedy circuit, but he’s already cornered the market in combining real-life police experience with a natural comedic ability. Recently retired as a police sergeant, with over twenty years’ front-line service with our finest, he has a wealth of real-life insights and comedy moments to share.

Looking every bit the slightly overweight, world-weary copper who’s heard every excuse in the book, Alfie has developed a wry, observational comedic style, which lends itself to witty, and sometimes gritty, anecdotes based on everyday modern policing. He also proved himself to be an adept socio-political commentator and weaved this all together with his take on the comedy gold of real life, the stuff that you just can’t make up.

He led us through his back-story, including his dyslexia, lack of formal education and his low self-esteem. Born and raised on a council estate in Sheffield, he was an apprentice in the steelworks before managing to join the Police, possibly through a mix-up in the paperwork. He was later inspired to take up stand-up comedy in 2007 after his first taste of live comedy at a local comedy club. He quickly became well and truly hooked, and was soon performing regularly up and down the country. (Since then he has written and performed his own one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival six times now. His BBC Radio 4 comedy series ‘It’s A Fair Cop’ debuted in July 2014 and, following exceptional feedback from listeners and media reviews, further series have since been commissioned.) Last night he was touring his latest show ‘Fair Cop Unleashed’.

The first half consisted mostly of a general stand-up routine, getting himself into the murky world of gender politics, treading a very fine line between the acceptable and the very non-PC, beautifully rescued at the end by a great gag about having to know someone’s gender in order to know how much to pay them. There was some great stuff about police nick-names, the CPS (“Couldn’t Prosecute Satan”), and the ongoing struggle with paperwork in his Grimsby posting.

But it was the second half before he finally laid out his “real life” incident with a mysterious and inebriated clown walking in to his police station, asking for help to find four lions lost from the circus. What followed was the tale of his hilarious attempts to make sense of it all, to work with others (armed police that he referred to as “the Milk Tray men”) to re-capture the four dangerous wild beasts roaming the town (he was advised “try not to look like prey”), whilst overcoming his genuine fear that he might actually die.

His style throughout was engaging, confidential and dead-pan. The whole thing was genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud hilarious, with the gags and asides coming thick and fast. Long and loud applause was his just reward.

The Devizes Arts Festival finished Saturday 25th June with Absolute – Last Night Celtic Party at The Corn Exchange. Devizine congratulates The Devizes Arts Festival and thanks them for putting on such an excellent programme of events, looking forward to another great summer in 2023.

Editor’s Note: I’d also like to thank Andy for his extensive coverage of the Arts Festival over the last fortnight, covering almost every event can be exhausting, but it goes a long way to show how jam-packed the Arts Festival is and the dedication from the team to provide Devizes with some quality and diverse performances.


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival– Simon Calder @ The Corn Exchange 21st June 2022

Travel Tales

Andy Fawthrop

Well, we’re on to week two of the Devizes Arts Festival, but there’s been no let-up, as the entertainment continues to come thick and fast. Following Florian Felcitta’s wonderful Free Fringe performance in the Three Crowns on Sunday afternoon, and yesterday’s highly entertaining talk from gardening expert Adam Frost, last night it was the turn of The Independent’s travel writer and commentator Simon Calder.

I suppose there was a deep irony at play in Simon coming to D-Town, a place that last saw a rail service back in the 1960s, and which “enjoys” the bus services of a third-world country. Added to which, of course, was the added insult of it being the first day of the national rail strike. Simon’s day had started very early (as early as that of our esteemed milky editor) in his attempt to catch the first (still running) train of the day from London to Gatwick. And even then, his only purpose in being at Gatwick at sparrow’s cough was to be aboard the first Gatwick Express back to London, just so that he could report on the experience for various TV and radio stations. His quest turned out to be forlorn – the first train failed to run (staff shortages), and the second one only managed ten miles before it broke down. It was the start of a day which, he remarked in an understated stage whisper, had “gone completely Tango Uniform”. If you don’t know, Google it.

Following that, he’d made his way via Swindon, and the rigours of the cross-country 49 bus, to finally haul up in The Vize – and there were plenty of graphic pictures to prove it, including a shot of him in Tea Inc. doing yet another media despatch. Having played this early sympathy card, and got the near-capacity audience fully on-side, Simon was off on his more standard presentation on the life of a travel journalist, using photos of funny signs from around the world, personal travel experiences, and his reflections on such issues as the Covid travel restrictions, and the sub-optimal outcomes (for travellers at least) of Brexit.

His style was confident and brisk, with quips, asides and much dry humour in evidence. He was deft in praising the charms of D-Town, whilst playing to the gallery by snarking at Melksham, Swindon and Trowbridge. He’d done his homework all right. The main presentation having concluded, Simon spent a good half hour fielding audience-generated questions (ably delivered by DAF Chair Margaret Bryant) and providing helpful and hilarious advice on topics as wide as Avios points, best and worst places to visit, when to board an aircraft, the quality of airline catering, the value of rail travel, tourism in post-conflict Ukraine, and the feasibility (or otherwise) of electric planes.

An altogether professional and entertaining evening, and another coup for DAF in getting a media personality down to our neck of the woods.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues for the next few days until 25th June at various venues across town. Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival –The Scummy Mummies @ Corn Exchange 16th June 2022

Scum In The Corn Exchange

Andy Fawthrop

Well we’ve had plenty of music, chats and walks so far in the Devizes Arts Festival, so it was about time that a comedy monster raised its ugly head in our lovely town.  And, as they say, if you’re going to do comedy, best get out there and do it big.  And it doesn’t come much bigger, better and more well-known than the Scummy Mummies…..

For those who don’t know – Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn originally joined forces to become The Scummy Mummies back in 2013.  Since then they have gone on to produce an award-winning podcast, a popular book, and their own range of merchandise.  They have an ever-growing social media presence, with more than 160,000 followers on Instagram.  There are now over 200 episodes of The Scummy Mummies Podcast, and they have been downloaded more than 5 million times in 150 countries.  The show has featured in “Best Podcast” lists in The Guardian, the Sunday Times, and The Telegraph.  

So taking the next logical step to create The Scummy Mummies as a live comedy show, packed with sketches, songs, and top quality boob jokes, came almost as an inevitability.  In 2019 they made their Edinburgh Festival debut, selling out the entire 25-night run and earning a five-star review.

And last night, the show rolled into D-Town and, not to be outdone by some mere provincial town in Scotland, was a sell-out.  400 or so folks packed into the Corn Exchange.  I’m guessing that there were a lot of dads across town looking after their children, cowering in the darkness, and wondering about how exactly to load the dish-washer, since about 95% of the audience were of the female persuasion.  This was like the biggest prosecco-fuelled hen-party on earth.  The air was thick with the aroma from competing waves of oestrogen and HRT patches, and it was almost over-whelming to we few cowering, intimidated males who had dared to put in an appearance.  Make no mistake – this was a BIG girls’ night out, the WAGs moving en masse, and woe betide anyone who got in their way.

And of course, it was everything the crowd had been expecting – potty-mouthed sketches, observations and songs on all the obvious themes and targets – the failings of men, sex, childbirth, domesticity, parenthood, body issues, you name it.  Every target was greeted with loud hoots and cheers of recognition and sisterhood solidarity.  Subtle and sophisticated it was not – but it was absolutely, side-splittingly, laugh-out-loud, bloody hilarious.  Ellie and Helen were absolutely superb at picking their targets and (male) victims from the audience, riffing and improvising on familiar themes of failed expectations, can’t-be-arsed attitudes, and rapidly-waning interests in other things in life than wine and sex.  I almost felt sorry for poor Phil and Dave sitting up at the front.  But not very sorry, to be honest.  It was excruciating at times, yet never nasty or vicious, just deeply funny.

Musical mash-ups featuring ABBA, Cher, Love Island, RuPaul, and the Nineties were great set pieces, together with sketches about baby-books, hair waxing, the horny-versus-hungry dilemma, and the “beauty” industry.  But the best bits in my view were the observational stand-up sessions, and the games (“I have never…” and the “confession” cards), which were generated by the D-Town audience itself, and led to the best impromptu comedy from both women.  And finally the “scum-ometer” revealed the “scummiest mummy in Devizes”, and then we were done.  Huge, huge cheers and applause was the justified response.

I think (I hope) it’s probably safe for the chaps to come out now, but be afraid – very afraid!

What an absolutely fabulous night out – great entertainment, and two hours of belly-laughs.  Well done DAF for throwing this absolute gem into the mix.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues every day until 25th June at various venues across town.  Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk 


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