Song of the Day 41: Captain Accident & Disasters

Meaning to bring back this simple and quick feature for a while now, and what better opportunity than a new tune from Cardiff’s reggae virtuosoes Captain Accident and the Disasters?

Nice mellow rock steady number this one, with a sombre theme and contrasting clown in the video. Bring on those happy, happy clowns, for a band who supported Toots and the Maytals on their 2016 UK tour, who Toots Hibbert liked so much to invite them back to do the same for the follow two tours, it could only be more talent than “accident.”

And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..


Hotting up for August 2021: Things to Do Across Wiltshire and Beyond

If July saw the gradual return to normality, and cautiously events crawled back with a welcomed but awkward feeling, while it may be hugely debatable if we’re doing the right thing, or not, August is warming up to be stonker. Events of all types are flung up each day, it’s hard to keep track and up-to-date, nevertheless I try.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t go Pete Tong. Such a divided issue with good arguments on each side, I’m not about to start ranting for either, but I salute everyone organising events, at great risk to themselves financially. All I will say is, it is vital for the success of any event and the continuation of them in general, that we still apply certain rules, restrictions set by the organisers, and adopt the necessary etiquette when attending them. We know what the precautions are, they’re second nature now. The government passed the buck, it is up to us, each and everyone of us to think for ourselves, respect other’s decisions on how to act, but I appeal, act responsibly and long may this continue.

Without further-a-do then, here’s what we’ve found on Devizine for August. It’s far easier to knock this article up with providing too many links, they can be found at the event calendar, and for family events throughout the school holidays, check here; but please do check for updates, it’s never an exhaustive thing, new events are being added. Said that bit before, but it is even more vital to check ahead, to ensure events are going ahead as planned, and what restrictions might be in place at them individually. Have a great August, stay safe.

Week 1:

Kicking off on Monday August 2nd with the +5 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School. Tuesday 3rd and running until Thursday 5th August, RW Football School Summer Football Camp are at Green Lane, Devizes, ages 6-11.

Wednesday August 4th, then. Chippenham Museum host a Children’s Art Walk. Take a walk, through Monkton Park for this fun arty session. You will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park. There’s also the +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School.

Wednesday also sees the first Junior Actors with Lucia, for school years 6-9, for the Youth Theatre Summer Workshop at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes.

Thursday 5th and the Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore starts on Bowden Hill, Lacock. Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm, run every Thursday and Friday through August.

Our first August festival starts Thursday, Wickham Festival in Hampshire, where Van the Man headlines, and the Love Summer Festival at Plympton, Devon starts Friday.

There’s an interesting-sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman staged at Bath’s Forum on Friday 6th -Saturday 7th Miss Red. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old, Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.

Friday 6th also sees the Salisbury Comedy Festival start, Black Sabbath tribute, Supernaut play the Vic in Swindon, and HoneyStreet’s Barge will be kicking as the Mid Life Krisis Collective head down there.

On Saturday 7th time for Sheer Music to put aside their lockdown TV presenting skills and get on with what they do best, hosting gigs. And what a way to start, it’s Frank Turner at the Cheese & Grain. Also, catch the amazing Kevin Brown the Southgate, Devizes, and those mods, The Roughcut Rebels play the Greyhound in Trowbridge.

The wonderful Strange Folk are at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon. Concord Drive, Transfer Window and Man in Vest play Swindon’s Vic, Jive Talkin’ perform the Bee Gees at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall and it’s The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, where McFly headline.

For Sunday chilling, on the 8th, get down to the Queens Head in Box where Schtumm presents The Lost Trades with support from Lee Broderick, alternatively the Neeld play The Rod Stewart Songbook.

Week 2:

Monday 9th August there’s a +8 Holiday Club, The Farm Cookery School and +11 on Tuesday.

Wednesday sees another Youth Theatre Summer Workshop, at Devizes, the Wharf Theatre, check their website for details. Chippenham Museum also hosts a Writing & Performance Workshop with performer Ruth Hill, for ages 8 and above. More Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore on Thursday and Friday, and The Cake Lady takes The Farm Cookery School’s +8 Holiday Club.

Friday night, I’ve got Stop Stop playing Swindon’s Vic, and that’s it so far.

Saturday 14th, Cobbs at Hungerford have a charity Emergency Service Day, should be fun for the little ones. For the grownups, cider fest at the Civic in Trowbridge with the Mangled Wurzels.

Lewis Clark is at The Southgate, Devizes, Shepard’s Pie at Wanborough’s The Harrow, and Webb, formally known as Ryan Webb has this EP launch party at Swindon’s Vic, with Broken Empire and Land Captains in support. Hope to get a copy of this for reviewing, some clog in the pipeline at the moment. But hey, it’s also Buckfest at Marlborough The Roebuck where the loud and proud Humdigger headline.

Bedpost, Transfer Window and Pool play the Vic in Swindon on Sunday.

Week 3:

+11 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School on Monday 16th, and the RW Football School are in Melksham. Suitable for ages 6+, Pound Arts welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous show to Corsham Almshouses, for an outdoor performance of The Grimm Sisters.

A welcomed return of events at Melksham Assembly Hall on Thursday 19th, with Neil Sands Bringing Back the Good Times; ol’ time favourite show tunes from the 40s, 50s & 60s and a heart-warming tribute to Dame Vera Lynn.

Friday 20th and Jack Dee’s new show, Warm Up is at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall. I’ve nothing else for Friday night yet, but Saturday21st, woah, festival time!

First up, is where I plan to be, Mantonfest, near Marlborough, with Blondie tribute Dirty Harry, Dr Feelgood, Barrelhouse, Richard Davies & The Dissidents and many more. Over the downs, OakStock at Pewsey’s Royal Oak is another safe bet; Amy Winehouse, Rag n Bone Man tributes, alongside the brilliant Illingsworth.

Meanwhile the rescheduled Bath Reggae Festival takes place, with Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Hollie Cook and more. Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headline Live at Lydiard 2021.

Howlin’ Mat plays The Southgate, Devizes, while Sex Pistol’s tribute Pretty Vacant are at Swindon’s Vic, with support by The Half Wits and Subject Ex.

Week 4:

Monday 23rd August is +8 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School, and Tuesday is11+.From Tuesday until Thursday, The RW Football School Summer Football Camp returns to Green Lane, Devizes, for ages 6-11.

Chippenham Museum has a one-hour workshop to create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by their latest exhibition on Wednesday, for ages 6+.

Thursday and Friday it’s Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore. And Thursday 26th August sees an Olympic Gold Medallist, Alex Danson running a Hockey Masterclass at Devizes Hockey Club. Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.

All weekender at The Barge on Honeystreet, when Honey Fest kicks off Thursday, with a grand local line-up, including The Lost Trades, The Blunders, and Chicken Shed Zeppelin, to name but a few.

The Southgate is the place to head towards on Friday in Devizes, where my personal indie-pop favourites, (not that I should have favourites) Daydream Runaways are booked in. Also, the highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green, all weekend, with the Full Tone Orchestra and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats appearing Sunday.

A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows on Saturday 28th August at Corsham’s Pound Arts. And Sunday, a Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars, Pop Princesses comes to Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

Meanwhile, it’s the welcomed Triple JD Band at The Southgate, Devizes and HarrowFest at Wanborough’s The Harrow, featuring Jamie R Hawkins, The Blind Lemon Experience and more…


Idiot Music, is the Monkey’s Bizzle

This is isn’t the favoured way to start a review, but this is idiot music for stupid people, if you think this is stupid then you’re a fucking idiot, and that’s a quote, from the opening title tack, which ends on, “oh, there it is, up my bum; can I eat it now?”

If Goldie Looking Chain is all too millennial, but hip hop, for you, should be served with massive chunks of deadpan sauce, west country tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and general silliness, Monkey Bizzle’s debut album, Idiot Music might just be the thing to pick off the menu.   

Through the Pythonesque nature of Idiot Music though, wailing guitars, proficient drumming (from Cerys of the Boot Hill All Stars), and substantial dope beats means this is far from amateurish, and will rock the festival circuit. In fact, the Somerset five-piece sold out the album launch party at The Barge on Honeystreet a fortnight ago; I see why. This drips with Scrumpy & Western charm, like Gloucestershire’s Corky, Wurzels meets the Streets, the elements of “agricultural” hip hop make this apt for our local crusty scene. Yet with wider appeal, it is, simply, parental advisory fun.

Primates tend to be a running theme, a particularly danceable funky signature tune named Monkey Funk, a King Kong themed rap, another including David Attenborough samples. There are also drug references aplenty, the reggae-inspired Heavy, or Doves (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) needs no explaining, but in it, it mocks the chav culture in such a way you may’ve thought only Goldie Looking Chain could. Something it’ll inevitably be compared to, but more so than the humour drafting this side of the Seven, what makes this so appealing is its nod of respect to hip hop rather than mocking it, is greater than that of Goldie Looking Chain, in a similar way there’s was with Beastie Boy satirists Morris Minor and the Majors, if you get as old skool as I!

One thing’s for sure, Monkey Bizzle isn’t to be taken seriously, but for the most part it’s listenable to as a hip hop album rather than pure novelty too, unique rappers Skoob and James make this so, especially as the album trickles on, both CU Next Tuesday and Ha Ha Ha being particularly entertaining, Oi Mate ripples with The Streets’, Give Me My Lighter Back but under a ska riff.

Nothing here is going to become next summer’s banging anthem on Radio One’s Big Weekender, an honour they’re clearly not bothered by or striding towards. To face facts, what you get is a full album of highly entertaining flip-flop and amusing lyrics of daring themes, wrapped by gifted musicians only playing the fools. And for which, Idiot Music has got my name all over it!


For Dave Young; Swindon’s Old Town Bowl Rocks for Charity This August with New Festival

Planned for Saturday 28th August, from midday until 10pm, an all-day festival in Swindon’s Town Gardens will be getting Swindon rockin’, and it’s all in aid of The Prospect Hospice.

Prospect Hospice has offered end-of-life care services in Swindon and north east Wiltshire since 1980.

The unconventional yet catchy named, ‘The My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ is being organised by the people behind The Swindon Shuffle in partnership with South Swindon Parish Council, is being held in tribute to Dave Young, the former landlord of The Victoria and 12 Bar, who sadly died in early June at the Prospect Hospice after a hard-fought battle against cancer.

The charity festival, will be held at Town Gardens Bowl, a venue I thought was in a state of disrepair, after finding it walking through the park in Old Town as a student. Showing my age now, as it was refurbished in the mid-1990s, and is currently being used by the South Swindon Parish Council for a summer program of outdoor theatre!

Since 1936 the auditorium-styled Bowl has hosted many musical events. Standing in a grass-banked   amphitheatre, created by quarry workings in the eighteenth century, it’s a beautiful setting known its outstanding acoustics.

Swindon Railway Band at the Town Gardens, Old Town

Organiser Ed Dyer, of The Swindon Shuffle, said: “During their tenure at The Victoria and the 12 Bar, Dave, along with his wife Anna, revitalised the Swindon music scene, offering opportunities to hundreds of local musicians to show off and develop their talents. The pair created friendships and a lasting music family that still endures, leaving an indelible stamp on this town and many of the people within it.”

“It’s only fitting that this legacy is recognised by throwing a great big musical party and raising as much money as possible for Prospect, who helped keep David comfortable in his last months.”

The festival is now calling on local businesses to come forward to help fund the event so that as much money as possible can be raised for the charity. They are also looking for volunteers who want to show their support.

Sheryl Crouch, head of income at Prospect Hospice, said: “We’ve been so pleased to have been chosen as the local charity to benefit from this fantastic bank holiday music event in memory of the groups wonderful friend, I really can’t thank them enough.  I can see the passion in the team to raise vital funds for the hospice after we cared for Anna’s husband Dave at the end of his life.

“Support like this means a huge deal to us, especially at the moment when we’ve been unable to fundraise in our traditional ways but continue to offer specialist care to those who need it. I wish them all the very best for a successful and enjoyable event and we’ll be here to support them wherever we can.”

The organisers are made up of several key members of the Swindon music scene, including Andy Loddington, the man behind Summer Breeze and Jamie Hill, editor of The Ocelot. They are also working very closely with Anna Sprawson, the widow of Dave Young, who said: “Dave’s death has been a tragic loss to all who knew him. He was so full of life and gave so much to others whether it was his family and friends or to the music community.”

“I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate his life and all he meant to others by holding this one-day festival in aid of the Prospect Hospice who helped us all during such difficult times. We can’t do enough for this wonderful charity and we’re hoping to raise as much money as possible so they can continue helping more families in their time of need.”

Press Cutting from May 1993, the Boys From County Hell deut gig.

The stellar musical line up is headed by David’s former folk-punk band, The Boys From County Hell, reuniting for the occasion to perform for the first time in more than a decade. They toured the internationally to huge acclaim.

Gaz Brookfield & The Company of Thieves. Image: Jennifer Berry

Joining them will be Dave’s last band, the legendary punk covers outfit The Chaos Brothers along with Gaz Brookfield & The Company of Thieves, with whom he toured the UK as sound engineer.

Also featuring are a host of acts who were all championed by David in one way or another during his time as a cornerstone of the local music scene, including parody-party covers act Kova Me Badd, ska-punk band Slagerij, blues-funk three-piece Hip Route, and reggae act The Erin Bardwell Trio, and more are in the working. One only has to look at the diversity and quantity of acts queuing to play the legendary Swindon Shuffle, to know, the team have the experience to pull off a most fitting and memorable concert.

Erin Bardwell

South Swindon Parish Council, who manage Town Gardens have also offered their full support to the festival. Cllr Neil Hopkins, Chair of Leisure, Environment and Amenities said, “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with The Shuffle, in support of what promises to be a fantastic family-friendly music festival in the heart of Town Gardens, in aid of Prospect Hospice.”

Dave Young. Image: Graham Bradfield

The festival is now calling on local businesses to come forward to help fund the event so that as much money as possible can be raised for the charity as well as volunteers to help on the day. Businesses and volunteers can get in touch with the team via email – mdbtydfestival@gmail.com

‘The My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad Festival’ will be held at Town Gardens Bowl on Saturday 28 August, from midday until 10pm. Tickets are available online via seetickets.com or in person at Holmes Music and The Tuppenny in Swindon and Sound Knowledge in Marlborough.  

Tickets:

Early Bird (18+) – £15

Adult Ticket (18+) – £20

Concession Ticket (10-17 years) – £12

Child Ticket (Under 10 years old) – Free

Family Ticket – two adults and two concessions – £50

To keep up to date with information about the festival visit www.mydadsbiggerthanyourdad.co.uk


Daisy’s Good Luck Songs

If I learned to take heed of Sheer Music chief promoter Kieran J Moore, when he Facebook posts about a new local discovery on a previous occasion, when I had the unexpected realisation outstanding Americana artist, Joe Edwards was virtually a neighbour, it’s paid off again.

The sounds of Daisy Chapman the subject this time, and it’s exquisite.

“How have we only just discovered each other?” Daisy responded. She may reside in Trowbridge but rarely gigs locally, concentrating on touring the continent. I listened fondly to the song he prompted, time for me to cut in on this dance.

Starter for ten, Daisy has an angelic voice of vast range. It could conjure enough emotion to make you tearful over a Chas n Dave cover, if she were to attempt it, which she probably wouldn’t, purely hypothetical!

Orchestral, at times, but dark, folk in another, if unconventional, there’s a thin line between heavenly and infernal here, as a sense of generation X sneaks in too, through conceivably progressive writing. Coupled with poignant narrative in these nine original good luck songs, a waiver away from archetype instruments and riffs of country and folk, and bold genre experimentations and crossovers, makes her third studio album, 2020’s Good Luck Songs something of a masterpiece.

It opens lone on piano, this divine voice, almost liturgical, but layers are building, a trusty cello will become a trademark throughout the album. The title track preps you for something unique, something obviously wonderful.

Into the second tune, Home Fires, and the tender euphoria continues through piano and cello combination, whisking you on its journey, of nostalgic recollections annotating seasonal change, the wordplay is sublime. Neatly layered into the existing recipe, a gothic folk element slips neatly into play by the third tune. Daisy’s voice willingly commands you, captivating you, like a child mesmerised with a campfire fable.

Then there’s Generation Next, a strictly country feel with a delicate fiddle, and brass, accompanying a tongue-in-cheek division, a tale which, despite the Americana sound, nods to gigging on a local circuit, from well-versed experts to the concept their advice is to be ignored by the younger upcoming performers. It is, quite simply, fascinatingly ingenious.

I used to own an Empire is another compellingly written emotional piece; on bonding to face a greater cause, articulated by a crusader boldness against aggrandizement. Through historic references it compares devastating impacts of political cuts, The Beeching Report, Miner’s Strike and even Custer and the Gettysburg Address to the ignorance of Icarus, as the wax of his wings melted from flying too close to the sun. An archetypal subject of leftism maybe, but you’ve never heard such expressed with such academic prose and orientation.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do! The subjects of Good Luck Songs are concentrated, factual and tangible, emotionally expressed and divinely produced to an exceptionally high standard. But diversity makes it tricky to pin down, there’s a moment, in the haunting ambient opening of The Decalogue, which sounds so soulful, held steady with military style drum riff, yet the following song There’s a Storm Coming has a drum loop and high-hat, akin to a contemporary RnB song, or the country-pop of Shania Twain. Feels like succumbing to commercialisation, but in this, there’s a point; Daisy’s voice is so lithe, it could flex into any given genre or style, and finish on top.

Said versatility was first noticed by UK prog-rock band Crippled Black Phoenix, and since 2009, on and off Daisy has travelled as pianist/BV with the band on tours covering every corner of Europe as well as a short trip to China. Daisy was also chosen as vocalist on their cover of AC-DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” With a penchant for prog-rock, Daisy shares lead vocals with ex CBP singer, Daniel Anghede in the group Venus Principle.

And anyway, Good Luck Songs finishes with a sublime cover of Tom Waits’ Tom Traubert’s Blues, to confirm Daisy’s dedication to acoustic rock, but as expectable, it strips out the croaking vocals of Waits and replaces it with the pure silk that is Daisy Chapman. Believe me, if you’re captivated by strong female vocals, the kind that could bring a church down, but want for intelligent lyrics, this album will hold you spellbound from start to finish.


Girls Go Ska; Frente al Mar!

Rude girls grito! Far from home perhaps, but so, so worth mentioning for tropical vibes of rock steady and ska in a fashion proportionately you’ll find hard to come by around these parts, it’s my beloved all-girl-bar-one Mexican ska band, Girls Go Ska with a bran-new album Frente al Mar. Girls and ska, what’s not to like?!

From the off, the title track simply melts, mellowly, and builds in tempo, but is never overdramatic; “cool” is the operative word; fresco! If I’ve put them on a pedestal before, they’ve now put another couple of pedestals atop it. Often steady paced for the genre, it proves ska, while upbeat doesn’t have to be full of macho-bravura skinheads, or a frenzied rancour attack against dogmatic tyranny it’s often misperceived here through the eighties’ second-generation Two-Tone scene, and within the dominate contemporary ska-punk internationally. I’ve made this point in the past when penning a more general piece about ska and reggae in South America, in which Girls Go Ska were featured.

Girls go Ska

Frente al Mar is breezy, bright and fun, light-hearted and beguiling. It roots the genre to its original Jamaican ethos, as a carefree dance music. Though, there’s a large chunk of assumption with those observations, as my Spanish isn’t up to scratch, so my presumption rests on the design, the album name, which translates to the seaside, basically, and mood of the vocals; if they’re singing about anything other than romantic themes and enjoying oneself dancing on a tropical beach, like making political statement, it certainly doesn’t sound that way! You just have to enjoy the professionality and untroubled vibe this album breezes in your direction, it’s gorgeous, and it absolutely skanks!

Packaged femininely in loud pink and decorated with cute shōjo manga, rather than our typecast black and white chequered trade identity with Walt Jabsco splashed all over, Frente al Mar provides an alternative to norm, but is no way attributes the “fairer sex,” rather riot grrrl kick-ass in tenet, gender-neutral in sound. Not that punk comes into play; throughout it’s steadfast traditional ska sound, one should credit Studio One rather than Two-Tone, or even Reel Big Fish for, there’s also sprinklings of Latino sound traditional to Mexico, of ranchera, norteño and their contemporary offshoots, but are subtle and likely naturally occurring.

Imagine, if your English mind will adapt, Gloria Estefan performing ska, and you’re nearer to the mark than The Specials. But no, eight sublimely flowing tunes is what you get, a sun-kissed blessing on the ear, in the style of brass-based rock steady and good ol’ ska. While pukka boys, Death of Guitar Pop are currently returning the welcomed Nutty-Boys-esque frivolous and fairground ska home for lads, further afield, here comes the girls.

Meanwhile here in my hometown of Devizes, the newly opened rum bar, The Muck & Dundar has been a roaring success, proving a taste of the tropical is welcomed, ergo, taken out of its context and origins, Frente al Mar would make the perfect soundtrack to it. Me? I’m smitten, with a little crush!


Trending….

Longcoats Get Dancing

Opps, near-on delayed a month due to the amount of work involved with promoting our Julia’s House album, other stuff going on, and generally slacking off in my garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts, I’ve a backlist of music to tell you about, hopefully, before you visualise me slacking off in the garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts.

To begin, Bath’s indie-pop favs, Longcoats have an official new bassist, Will Vickery. The band claim he was “a stray man we found on the street and august-rush style he could just hear the music and play it.” Proof in the pudding, I’ll double-bet ya you’ll going to love their new belter, “Get Dancing,” which is, incidentally just what we all need right now.

Will Vickery

Probably why it’s blossoming attention and airtime from the likes of BBC Bristol, Target, Soho Radio, Sheppey FM, New York’s New Visions Radio Network, and even Australia’s Valley FM, and seeing them bookings at Moles, Brighton’s Pipeline, and supporting The Rift at Swindon’s Rolleston.

Just as Pretty in Pink did, which incidentally Longcoats kindly donated to our aforementioned and plugged charity fundraising compilation, (which I’m not going to shut up about until you buy it) Get Dancing is symbolic of the band’s ability to compose such a beguiling and catchy riff it feels like it’s always been in your life after just one listen.

It’s lively, carefree, resides bopping over hopeless romantically conversing, as it says on the tin, encouraging to dance in both sound and theme. And with that, I should take heed, stop writing how great it is and just add the Spotify link so you can hear it for yourself and I can revert back to the building mountain of new music I’ve yet to explore. But rest assured, this one is a keeper, and perhaps true to the word; I should get dancing if I’m ever going to work off this belly hanging over my khaki shorts!


Tracks 4Julia’s House Album; The Final Countdown

Long overdue is the last third of our detailed track-listing for the compilation album, Various Artists 4Julia’s House, like most things on Devizine at the moment. What? I’ve been busy sorting out my wardrobe, throwing out the unfashionable items.

Now I’m left with a completely empty wardrobe, it’s time to give you the lowdown on the remaining artists we’ve not mention yet, who gladly donated an awesome track to put on our awesome compilation; everything is awesome. We’ve raised over £150 so far.

Buy it here!

No, it really is, cos, right, if you think I loaded the beginnings of the album with the best tunes, dumped naff ones at the end and it trails off somewhere towards the middle, you’re gravely mistaken. Things had already been firing up on a funky tip, with Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth – Seed, SexJazz and Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue. We paused for breath last outing at track 33, the frenzy ska-folk of the Boot Hill All Stars. I’m glad to say that fashion continues…..


34. Mr Tea & The Minions – Mutiny

I have to say, I was over the moon when Bristol’s premiere ska-folk band Mr Tea & The Minions allowed us to use the title track from their 2019 album Mutiny. We fondly reviewed the album back then, haven’t quite gotten over it yet, and continue to insist I spin tracks on my Boot Boy Radio show, Ska-ing West Country. As while I might assume it wouldn’t go down so well with the largely older Two-Tone audience, when I do “folk shit up” there’s never a complaint.

It’s the infectious blend of the irresistibly danceable Balkan ska style, dub, and upbeat folk which does it, resistance is futile, you will bop till you drop, and Mr Tea & The Minions are truly top of this game.  United by a love of tea, energetic dancing, cheeky riffs, silly hats, and cake, Mr Tea and the Minions have been unleashing their colourful explosion of musical mayhem on unsuspecting audiences since 2013.

Festival favourites with almost 100 festival appearances including Glastonbury, Boomtown, WOMAD, Secret Garden Party, Shambala, Belladrum, Wilderness, Nozstock, and Goulash Disko, to name just a few. The Independent had this to say; “The Minions seamlessly weave Balkan Beats with ska, dub and swing to create a bouncing set. It’s impossible not to get involved.”


35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo

If we’re bordering ska, which you know is the first love in my eclectic tastes, we’re in deep now. While most of our tunes are locally based, I looked further afield for this. Switzerland has a wonderful ska and reggae scene, and Fruits Records produce the classic and traditional sounds with the rare skill level of Studio One. So much so, reggae legends are queuing to record with them, and the likes of the Silvertones and Cornell Campbell have.

Two in-house bands, the 18th Parallel, and Cosmic Shuffling, this track is taken from the latter’s 2020 album Magic Rocket Ship.

They’ve been sending me press releases and tunes to play on Boot Boy, more than worthy breaking the local norms of Devizine to review tenderly. It was only in chatting to studio boss Mathias Liengme about the project, they were keen to donate a tune and allowed me to pick any off of Magic Rocket Ship; I chose this one, it’s wonderful, but not alone on the album, could’ve picked any one of them to be honest; just delighted to introduce you to them.


36. Blondie & Ska – Boom Boom Bang Bang

Returning to local affairs, while ska and reggae are somethings of a rarity around these parts, Chippenham duo, Blondie & Ska have really challenged my pigeonholing of what a tribute act is and does. Not only are the live performances they travel the lengths and breadths of the country to show a unique tenet of a Blondie tribute blended with covers of all those eighties Two-Tone classics, but they occasionally write and record their own compositions. And when they do, they sound like they could be a particularly ska’d up Blondie album track, what’s not to like?!

I spoke to one half, Dave Lewis about all this, back in May. I’m so glad they agreed to donate a tune, but much more than this, Boom Boom Bang Bang is mint, which has been exclusively created for the album. Now, that’s dedication to our cause, for which I’m eternally grateful to Dave and Lorraine for. Plus, it’s a rock steady banger!

The duo have been live streaming through the lockdown, an entertaining show

37. The Birth of Bonoyster – The Way I Like To Be

To be the finale of our ska section of the album, it’s an all-out indie-ska-punk ride now, from London’s The Birth of Bonoyster. As if Jarvis Cocker fronted The Divine Comedy, there’s breakouts of Britpop, but warmed by being wrapped firmly in geeky-fashioned ska-punker tin foil.

Made friends with the frontman, Stew Simpson, rhythm guitarist and artist, when I complimented his sketch of Dave and Deborah of Devizes’ Southgate Inn, some time ago, and that’s a tenacious link to locality enough to present this amazingly addictive, if not slightly sweary, track, The Way I Like To Be. Aided by bassist Paul Stromdale, Paul Langford on lead guitar, and drummer Stu Soulsby, this nugget is from the album OYSTER, recorded in 2006 but never released until 2020.


38. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts

With one of those band names which sticks in your mind, THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW. I’d heard of Dorset’s seven-piece folk bohemians somewhere or other, before they kindly sent this gorgeous track. Formed in 2016, they’re storming the alternative-Celtic-punk-folk scene with their unique, and eccentric sound. Often dark, sporadically upbeat, there’s a flair of lyricism that’s hard to ignore, and a deep sound of country-core; Ghosts proves this, but the band are prolifically releasing EPs, like They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs, Oh Me Oh Mi, A Snake’s Snake, and Weeding out the Wicked, you need to take a listen to, Soundcloud being their favoured platform.


39. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time

If the previous tune from The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show cools the tempo, this one melts it. Like it too, it was sent surprisingly, I was completely unaware of Julie and Mel, and left astounded. Such a lovely, sentimental song about getting a second chance. It was written by Mel Reeves and Julie Meikle, a Taunton partnership reconnected from being old friends in 2019, and, together, they write and record their own distinctive material for which Julie creates much loved videos.

Julie Meikle has been a music teacher for primary children for over 30 years. She has sung with the Devon-based rock band Littermouth, and the pop band The Random Frogs. Julie has led many community choirs and orchestras, plays clarinet with the street band The Big Noise and a variety of folk groups.

Mel Reeves has been involved in music since leaving school. Whether it has been teaching guitar, playing in The Threepenny Opera (flamenco version!) or writing film scores for the I.L.E.A – his life has revolved around music making.

He founded the legendary Guitar Studio in Reading with Pete Lincoln (Sweet, Cliff Richard. Sailor, etc.) and Trevor Grant (Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army) where he wrote more than 24 tuition book/cassette packages for rock, jazz and blues guitarists. He went on to write and present more than 20 DVD programmes (Play Now Series) teaching, acoustic guitar, heavy metal, jazz and blues plus keyboard and bass programmes.

A move to Somerset saw Mel resume his teaching work, he also recorded/produced Noel (Windmills of Your Mind) Harrison’s final album and went on to accompany Noel for live performances of Noel’s touring show. Mel also plays in The Deane Big Band, Deftone 17, Big Noise Street Band and a jazz trio with multi-instrumentalist Timothy Milton Hill and bassist Jules Bushell.


40. Meru Michael – Mother Nature’s Boy

Another unbeknown to me before this project, Somerset’s singer/songwriter/sound healer Meru Michael. Meru has spent a number of years in the music business, as an independent label owner, recording studio and artist manager, and is currently co-managing Octopus Studios in Bruton. However, he has always been a player and songwriter and is currently devoted to releasing his own material. Meru currently resides in Somerset in the UK but has travelled widely and spent his formative years in the USA and Canada.

Mother’s Nature Boy is soulfully produced, with an irresistible cool vibe, picking our album up for what’s to come. It’s the title track from his 2020 4-track EP.


41. Cutsmith – Osorio

With his roots in the Canary Islands, Cutsmith now resides in Pewsey, and performs acoustically but largely inspired by urban sounds, hip hop and drum n bass, which he fuses with this “melodic folk and soul from the fields.” Vocalising for Devizes-based drum n bass label, SubRat Records, which he co-founded with Re:Tone, we reviewed the euphoric drum n bass tune Falling back in May last year. This track though, Osorio, sits better defined as hip hop, and is a wonderful praise of his homeland, which Cutsmith skilfully weaves back into love for living here now.


42. The Tremor Tones – Don’t Darken my Door

Cutsmith is the man to wind it nicely into the crucial reggae section of the album. If you know me well enough, you’ll know it couldn’t be complete without some reggae! Yet, locally reggae is harder to come by. I reverted back to a couple of years ago, when Bath-based The Tremor Tones sent me this splendidly gloomy-paced nugget of melancholy back when I started my show on Boot Boy Radio, and I knew I had to have it feature on the album.

But a despatched message to Adam of the band returned with the unfortunate note, The Tremor Tones ceased-to-be before the pandemic. The original drummer on the record passed away and nothing was officially released through a label after covid. Fortunately, suggested, being it was shame not to have promoted the tunes as much as they would’ve liked, it may as well be used for something positive and uplifting. And thus, for part-prosperity, part because it’s a great song, here is Don’t Darken my Door.


43. Big Ship Alliance, Feat Johnny2Bad, Robbie Levi & Stones – All in this Thing Together

So yes, with the absence of much reggae locally, and Erin Bardwell already topper most on our track-listing, I used connections made via Boot Boy Radio to source some tunes. When I first heard All in this Thing Together, I’d come up with idea of having a “song of day” article, something I could quickly post from my phone, without the need to type a lengthy review. I wasn’t expecting the idea to have much clout, at first, but when I realised artists on international levels would share the post, as Big Ship Alliance did, it gave Devizine wider attention.

Newly-formed just a year ago, this Birmingham-based seven-piece reggae collective, Big Ship Alliance started out as possibly the only tribute act to reggae legend Freddie McGregor, but on track to record their own material they’ve teamed up with the outstanding UB40 tribute act, Johnny2Bad for this gorgeous topical debut single, an anthem for lockdown. I’m glad they so kindly donated here, so the notion of unity, bought about by the pandemic, has universal meaning.


44. Urban Lions – We Say I

Of course, while I’m searching far and wide for reggae, there was some under my nose all the time. Urban Lions roar from Pewsey. I messaged them when planning this, we waffled on a variety of subjects, where Rupert Bear for some random reason was where it ended, when it should have been what we were doing about the track! Such is the relationship between them and Devizine, we’ve been reviewing their tracks since day dot.

In the midst of contacting so many artists at one time, I had clean forgotten where we left the decision, so this track was fashionably late for inclusion on the album; I’m so glad it made it.

Urban Lions are the live band from underground homegrown label Lionheart Records, creating and producing contemporary reggae steppa styles, dub and dancehall, and meshing them into a lively show which sees them step onto the world stage.


45. Neonian – Bubblejet

If I’m honest, I wanted more “dance” music, to give the album an unforgettable culmination, but the diversity and blend of styles Trowbridge’s Neonian can lattice into one song is so incredible, I’m content with the two tunes we did get. At times trance-techno, at time chemical beats, Bubblejet is the explosive finale I was hoping for, and it’s another exclusive track produced especially for the album.

Ian Sawyer is the man behind Neonian, his EP Vaxxor we glowingly, with neon, reviewed in March. The brilliance of Neonian’s sound is such it’s conversant to modernism but reflects all which has gone prior in electronic dance music. Ian describes it vaguely but aptly, “I make music, for myself. I can’t really describe it, but it’s mainly made with synthesisers, loops and samples. Influences include New Order, Boards Of Canada, Coil, Pye Corner Audio, Factory Floor.”


46. First Born Losers – Ground Loop

If Neonian cites the post-punk dawn of electronica, groups like New Order as an influence, even more so with this track from Devizes-based producer Robert Pennells, and “outcasts from a number of experimental bands,” aka First-Born Losers.

It’s meaty synth, dark experimental bass music with distorted melodies, effected drums, mangled samples and guitars, akin to the properties of dubstep or chemical beats but as moody as gothic of yore, yet, I don’t know, trying hard to put my finger on it.

I think if Art of Nosie or Yello were still around, they might sound a little some like this. It grinds our album to a memorable halt. They’ve just released a newer single of similar content, Dead Chicken Society, and we await the forthcoming album via “Miasma Records”.


And that’s all folks. It’s been a pleasure and experience compiling this album, and I know there were many others who wanted to contribute but didn’t send a track in time. There’s no point in taking what I’ve learned along this journey without putting it to good use, so a more streamlined process will be used to create a second volume. The concept is, if you have a song you’d like to contribute, please send it whenever and I will gradually build up the list and release it when we’ve enough tracks. Undecided, but I might yet raise for a different charity next time.

I’m thinking the brilliant Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, a preschool for children with learning disabilities. I originally approached them about the project, but they took some time to reply, so I promised it to Julia’s House. As with all the artists who didn’t send me a tune quick enough, unfortunately I was keen to push ahead with haste on this project, as once lockdown restrictions opened up once again, artists and bands would be busy concentrating on gigs and festivals, etc.

And I wish them all the best, so kind under the pressure of the times, they freely donated a tune, and it makes for a diverse compilation, showcasing so many you may not have heard of before. In a year of no festivals, this album, I wanted to do what the festival does, introduce you to some new acts, so please give these guys your support, buy their albums and catch them at live gigs. Of which on the latter, if you do, be sure to tell them where you heard of them before.

Lastly, thanks to you, in considering purchasing this album, it’s a bargain, and for such a good cause; I hope you enjoy the ride!

Was a TwoManTing at the Southgate

Managed to make it somewhere between out and Micky Flanagan’s out-out last night. In other words, I didn’t change out of my manky khaki shorts I’d been gardening in, but still got a pint or so down “the Gate.” I’ve been aching to witness the duo, TwoManTing for myself, Captain Obvious; yes, TwoManTing is a duo, you can’t make it up.

Appearing at the Devizes trusty Southgate a few times previously, it’s been something I’ve been meaning to catch-up with, being their appellation sounds all rather reggae, my favourite cup of tea. My residual curiosity though, how can a duo make reggae, something you surely need a gang for; a bassist, a drummer, brass section et all?

Two Man Ting

Answer revealed, the “ting” part might be misconceiving to our preconceived notion the phonologic is Jamaican patois. The Bristol-based duo consists of English guitarist Jon Lewis, who has a clear penchant for Two-Tone and punk inclinations of yore, and Jah-man Aggrey, a Sierra Leonean percussionist. They met playing together as part of dance band, Le Cod Afrique, at venues such as Montreux Jazz Festival and WOMAD, formed the duo in 2004, and make for an interesting and highly entertaining two-man show.

Something of a surprise then, and a rarity around these backwaters, to hear maringa, demonstrative folk of Sierra Leone, perhaps catered more to our tastes via Jon, but essentially the same ballpark, acoustic guitar and percussion. Somewhere between calypso but with the Latino twinge of rhumba, best pigeonholed, their sound is motivating and beguiling, and achieved with originality. In fact, to my surprise most of their compositions were their own creations, save the sublimely executed known cover of The Clash’s Guns of Brixton, Jon’s clear punk inspiration showing forth.

They told there’s a Clash cover on each album, of which they’ve produced three. Story checks out; Armagideon Time on their first album Legacy, which I could quibble is actually a Coxsone’s Studio One cover by the Clash, aforementioned Guns of Brixton on 2015’s Say What? and something of a rarity from Combat Rock, the poet Allen Ginsberg’s duet with Strummer, Ghetto Defendant, which can be found on their most up-to-date album, 2019’s Rhymes With Orange.

But this punk influence is sure subtle, the mainstay of their enticing sound is the acoustic maringa, palm wine music traditional throughout West Africa, at least for the start of the show. The most poignant moment for me was Jah-man attributing his homeland’s natural glory, rather than that which people tend to ask him about, the civil conflicts and war, in a chorus which went, “why not ask me about….”

Jah-man and George hanging out after the gig

As the performance progressed the fashion modernised, live loops upped the tempo, and it became highly danceable afro-pop, in the style of soukous, more spouge than cariso in delivery; how apt for the current heatwave! At times lost in the music, it was easy to throw-off the notion the wonderful sound was reverberating from just two guys, rather than an eight-piece band, reason enough for BBC 6Music’s Lauren Laverne to say of TwoManTing, “brilliant – if you want a bit of early summer, then get this into your ear-holes!”

Today they can be caught at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, but appreciation again to The Southgate for supplying Devizes with something diverse and entertaining. Next Saturday at “the Gate,” Rockport Blues appear, for a night of blues, rock and soul classics, starting at 7:30pm.


Trending….

Gull Able

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

Spend August Bank Holiday at Manton-Fest!

Got your ticket for Manton-Fest yet? Well, hurry up, I need you to give me a lift!

“Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about;” that’s what I said in a preview last January, oblivious to what was about to be thrown up in our faces. At least all my typing did not go to waste with this one preview, as Manton-Fest is back for 2021 and set to go ahead on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday, the 21st.

Here comes a clip-show then, part-copy and paste, as some of the faithful acts booked for last year are intending to come to this one. As I’ve said before, write off 2020, pretend it didn’t happen, and look forward to this summer. Nesting in the water meadow of Manton Grange, below Treacle Brolly, Manton-Fest is surely one to put in your diary.

The tickets are online only: £30 for adults, £10 for teenagers 12 to 15 years and £5 for 7 to 11 years. But hurry, as there’s a pre-crowd; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021 and ticket numbers will be restricted to allow social distancing.

The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar. I’m lucky enough to have seen the real McCoy, so expect me to be critical!

The legendary hard-driving rock n roll- blues virtuosos, Dr Feelgood are also booked. A band which never left the road, from forming in 1971 to lead vocalist, Lee Brilleaux’s untimely passing in 1994, they’re still strong.

The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex-Big Country, Graham Pollock ex-The Hollies, Peter Barton ex-The Animals, Phil Bates ex-ELO and Geoff Hammond ex-Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly, with a wealth of experience between them it couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Vintage blues with a hard-edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, a band who delivered such a mind-blowingly addictive riff on our (plug) 4Julia’s House album, and one I’m very much looking forward to. Another unticked on my must-see tick-list is the excellent Richard Davies and The Dissidents. Since glowingly reviewing their album Human Traffic, they’ve also kindly contributed a track to our Julia’s House album, an outtake from the album.

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit in previous years. Josie & The Outlaw are “MantonFest veterans,” a 4-piece Americana multi-genre band, blending rock n roll and rhythm & blues into country. Marlborough based beat-combo Catfish are a returning favourite, and Skedaddle are Manton’s very own six-piece semi-acoustic band.

All of this, and perhaps more, will be compered by Marie Lennon for BBC Radio Wiltshire. This festival has a long history, with Katrina & The Waves, Toyah, The Troggs and Led Zeppelin tribute Whole Lotta Led on the billings, so they know what they’re doing; me, I’m looking forward to finally breaking my MantonFest cherry; is there time to buy a festival-jester’s hat?!


Trending……

Fun Things to Do in Wiltshire During the School Summer Holidays; 2021

Oh yes, it’s coming, you can feel it in the air; or is that more rain? Take a deep breath, because here’s our lowdown on stuff to keep your darling princesses and special little guys busy during the summer break, across our area, to retain some of your sanity and keep you from maxin’ your Wine Warehouse loyalty card.

Ongoing and regularly updated, bookmark this, mums and dads, and check back from time as more stuff will hopefully be added. Please note Devizine cannot accept responsibility for the safety of links outside of this site, the cancelation or failure of organisers to maintain events listed. Thanks, enjoy your summer holidays, and stay safe!

Submissions: use the contact form at the bottom to tell us about your event, and I will add it onto our list!



JULY

From Saturday July 10th: Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge @ Devizes Library

Join the Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge for four- to 11-year-olds from Sat 10 July. The fun free challenge helps children improve their reading skills whilst having fun, it’s also great for good mental health. Children are challenged is to read six library books over the summer (including eBooks), so come into the library from this Saturday and pick up your bag of materials (including a map of Wilderville and stickers) while stocks last! Medals and certificates for children who complete the challenge will be available for collection after Monday 2 August.


Tuesday 13th – Saturday 17th: Collected Grimm Tales @ Wharf Theatre Devizes

Running from Tuesday 13th until Saturday 17th July, The Wharf Theatre in Devizes presents Collected Grimm Tales, by the Brothers Grimm, directed by Debby Wilkinson.

Familiar and less known stories from the Brothers Grimm are brought to the stage in this acclaimed adaptation. Using a physical and non-natural style of performance, these are stories that will journey into the warped world of imagination. We will see Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, all performed by a small, adult cast on a simple set. The audience will be required to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for adults and children alike!


Wednesday July 14th: Starcrazy – Open-Air Theatre back again at Ogbourne Maizey

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY BILL SCOTT, WITH ORIGINAL MUSIC BY TOM ADAMS

October 1957: the world lives in fear of nuclear war, Russia has launched Sputnik 1, UFOs are cropping up everywhere, MI5 is on high alert and Stanley is building something in his garden shed.

He may live in suburbia but, in his mind, Stanley is voyaging through outer space. He hopes to make contact with other life forms. His neighbour, Gwen, thinks he should be exploring the unknown much closer to home…

A cosmic comedy about obsession and the rekindling of love, hope and possibility

Estimated running time: 1hr 10 mins, no interval

Everyone welcome, but as a guide we recommend the show for age 7+


Saturday July 17th – Saturday July 24th: Charlie & Stan @ Theatre Royal Bath

Show your kids the brilliance of the silent movie comedy greats at Bath’s Theatre Royal.

In 1910, the then unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail from Liverpool to New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On the voyage, they shared a cabin, they shared comedy routines and they shared laughter. Inspired by real life events, Told by an Idiot’s acclaimed production is the remarkable story of the greatest double act that nearly was and is a hilarious and deeply moving homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever. Tickets from £23. Children best seats £22.50 at all performances.


Friday July 16th: Under 5’s Coffee and Craft Morning @ Wiltshire Scrapstore

Bowden Hill, Lacock. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Friday July 16th: King Arthur at Manor Farm, Upton Cheyney

Local theatrical tour of a fun and farcical family adventure by The Last Baguette. Suitable for ages 5+

Somewhere in England, a long time ago, a very, very, very long time ago. So long ago that nobody quite knows whether it happened or not. Or where it happened or not. A boy pulled a sword from a stone and became King. A story of the old world, with knights, wizards, mist and magic. This fun and farcical adventure is deliberately anarchic and anachronistic re-telling of the Arthurian Legend with live music, physical comedy and lo-fi acrobatics. And some silly jokes…

This is an outdoor production, please bring your own chairs, blankets. The field at Manor Farm will be open from 6pm for picnics, prior to the 7pm performance. The tour continues, courtesy of Pound Arts, see below for other venue dates.


Saturday July 17th: Food Glorious Food Photography Day: Cricketts Lane & Lords Mead Allotments, Chippenham.

Join the Photo Club and Chippenham Museum at a local Chippenham allotment to learn how to capture portraits of fresh produce. These free sessions take place on Saturday 17 July at the following times: Time: 10am – 12pm Ages: 9-14years. Location: Cricketts Lane. Time: 12:30-2:30pm Ages: 15-18 years. Location: Cricketts Lane.

These free sessions are part of a celebration of locally grown and seasonal produce by The Food School have been made possible through funding from Chippenham Borough Lands Charity.


Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th July: the Southern Counties Organ Festival on The Large Green Devizes.

 Sunday July 18th: King Arthur at Kington Langley Recreation Ground.

See above (Friday July 16th)


Monday July 19th: The Farm Cookery School

Kids who can cook, well, I say, have to be the best kind of kids ever! The Farm Cookery School at Netherstreet Farm near Bromham has a great summer programme, in a kitchen divided into 6 Covid-Safe Acrylic ‘Cookery Pods’. Each pod is suitable for 2 children to share.

Starting Monday 19th July with a Cookery Camp, for children aged 11+  where the young chefs get to come along for 2 days (8.30am – 4.00pm) to learn all about food; make breakfast, lunch & snacks to eat at the school, then make tea and desserts which they will take home with them. The camp includes 2 days of tuition, ingredients, recipes & meals.

I’ll list the events here, simply with a brief title, as there’s so many good ones!


Monday July 19th – September 12th: Under the Moon @ Longleat

Discover the wonderful creatures of the dark who have inhabited The Longhouse under the light of the Moon. Then explore Longleat’s nocturnal wildlife with dramatically enlarged straw sculptures in the open air.

Experience the astounding astronomical work of art by UK artist, Luke Jerram, titled the Museum of the Moon, as you wander up close to the orbital illuminator of the night. This 6 metre suspended replica of our Moon was created using detailed NASA imagery with each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture representing 6km of the moon’s surface!

Then observe the fascinating flora and fauna of the dark such as bioluminescent algae, blind cave fish, and the slender loris. Discover the mysterious creatures of dark with illuminating insights on their adaptations like why the blind cavefish have no eyes and emperor scorpions glow a bluish-green under UV light.

Step outside of The Longhouse and the wildlife exploration continues with a focus on the native animals active around the Park at night. Discover more about the barn owl, fox, mole, snail and others as we celebrate our nocturnal wildlife with huge straw sculptures.

Join us for a summer of exploration of new and native animals

Need to know

  • This exhibition is designed to be a sensory, calm experience, utilising the wide space of The Longhouse.
  • The Longhouse is fully accessible.
  • The number of guests in the Longhouse will be monitored and managed throughout the day to maintain safe social distancing and guest comfort.

Tues 20th

Wednesday July 21st: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thurs 22nd

Friday July 23rd: King Arthur at Sherston Village Hall

See above (Friday July 16th)

Saturday July 24th: Bromham Teddy Bear Trail

Bromham Carnival may’ve been cancelled but there will be a Teddy Bear Trail on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th July. This year’s theme will be ’60 Years of Family Films’ with 40+ Teddies around the village, created and generously sponsored by local businesses and individuals. See how many you can guess – and enjoy a walk round the beautiful village of Bromham. Refreshments available. Entry forms £2.50 each available from the Social Centre in New Road.


Sun 25th


Monday July 26th: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Monday July 26th: PH Camps begin


Tuesday July 27th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday July 27th: Devizes Tennis Club Holiday Camp

Anyone for tennis? Summer camps start on 27th July at Devizes Tennis Club, ongoing sessions from 10am-3pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 19th August.


Wednesday July 28th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first is Senior Actors with Lou is on Wednesday July 28th, for school years 10-13.


Wednesday July 28th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday July 28th: Summer Holiday Workshops @ Chippenham Museum: Make an Embroidery Sampler.

Ages 8 and above. 10.30am – 12.30pm Join Members of the Bath Textile Artist Group to make an embroidery sampler at Chippenham Museum. Once it was only girls who used to have fun with samplers but now anyone can have a go. Come and explore the history of samplers and start to stich your own. You will learn different stitches and can choose a range of motifs to produce your own design or sew a prepared piece. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced stitcher there will be something for you.


Wednesday July 28th: Bath Rugby Summer Camp coming to Devizes RFC

Bath Rugby coaches are back on the road again and coming to a rugby club near you! A full summer of coaching activity has been planned across Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset ensuring that everybody has the chance to get involved. And what’s more, we have a session at Devizes RFC on Wednesday 28th July!  The camp is designed for U7’s through to U16’s looking to hone their skills and is open to all abilities.



Thursday July 29th: Fireman Sam Saves the Circus @ Bath Forum

When all of his friends go away, Norman Price decides to find adventure in Pontypandy and become the star of a visiting circus. But with a tiger on the loose and faulty lights, the adventure soon turns to danger. Can Fireman Sam come to the rescue and save the circus?

Join Sam, Penny, Elvis, Station Officer Steele and Norman in an all singing, dancing, action-packed show. You can become a fire-fighter cadet and then watch the magic of the circus.

So, come along to Pontypandy and watch the adventures unfold!

This event is being sold as a socially distanced event at the present time, but should government guidelines allow, socially distanced seating may not be in place at the time of the event. Book Here


Thursday July 29th: The Cake Lady’s +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Friday July 30th: King Arthur at The Corsham Almshouse

See above (Friday July 16th)


Saturday 31st July: MFor 2021 @ Lydiard Park

If you fancy taking your kids to a local family festival with acts they’ll enjoy, rather than being dragged along to, check out MFor 2021 at Swindon’s Lydiard Park. Craig David, TS5, Sigala, Raye, Ella Henderson, Gracey & more! Lots of entertainment is included in the Saturday ticket price and you are promised a fantastic music line-up. Under 5s go FREE.


The Great Poppy Party @ The Crown, Bishops Cannings


August

Sun 1st


Monday August 2nd: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday 3rd – Thursday 5th August: RW Football School Summer Football Camp @ Green Lane, Devizes Ages 6-11


Tuesday August 3rd: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday August 4th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first Junior Actors with Lucia workshop is on Wednesday August 4th, for school years 6-9.


Wednesday August 4th: Children’s Art Walk by Chippenham Museum

2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park.

Take a walk through Monkton Park with a bit of a difference. For this fun arty session, you will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.


Wednesday August 4th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thursday 5th and 6th August: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Friday 6th -Saturday 7th: Miss Red @ Bath Forum

An interesting sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman is staged at Bath’s Forum early August. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.


Sat 7th

Sun 8th


Monday August 9th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday August 10th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday 11th August: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The second workshop for Senior Actors with Lou, for school years 10-13 and Junior Actors with Lucia workshop, for school years 6-9.


Writing & Performance Workshop by Chippenham Museum

9.30am – 3.30pm. Ages 8 and above, please bring a packed lunch.

Come and join writer, facilitator and performer Ruth Hill for a day of writing and performing. In the morning you will write something inspired by the museum’s exhibition which focusses on local Victorian diarist Rev. Francis Kilvert. Using the exhibition for inspiration, you will write stories, poems and scripts. Ruth will help you create a piece of work you are proud of and in the afternoon, you will work together to direct, stage and perform your pieces of writing to a small audience of your family and friends.  You can take part as a writer, performer, director or all three. Come and develop your skills, whether you love writing and performing, or just want to give it a go.

Thursday 12th – Friday 13th: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Thursday August 12th: The Cake Lady’s +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Fri 13th

Saturday 14th August: Charity Emergency Service Day @ Cobbs, Hungerford

A police car and van, fire responder car, and fire truck are visiting Cobbs. A free event hoping to raise some money and put a little love back into our emergency services, to say thank you for the incredible job that they do. There will be a raffle. Please note: If you would like breakfast or lunch in the cafe, book a table in advance: www.cobbsfarmshops.co.uk/book-a-table


Sun 15th

Monday August 16th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Monday August 16th: RW Football School Melksham


Tuesday August 17th


Wednesday August 18th: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thursday August 19th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Friday August 20th: The Grimm Sisters @ Corsham Almshouses (outdoor theatre)

Suitable for ages 6+. Pound Arts are excited to welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous brand-new show to Corsham, for an outdoor performance at Corsham Almshouses. Please bring along chairs, blankets, cushions, afternoon teas and picnics. The venue will be open one hour prior to the performance start time for audience to arrive, settle in and get comfortable.


Saturday August 21st: Live at Lydiard 2021

Another one-day festival at Swindon’s Lydiard Park, with Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headlining. Information is vague on this one, but by the line-up it sounds family-friendly.


Sun 22nd


Monday August 23rd: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26th August: RW Football School Summer Football Camp @ Green Lane, Devizes Ages 6-11


Tuesday August 24th: 11+ Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday 25th August: Simple Scrapbooking at Chippenham Museum

10am / 11.30am / 1pm / 2.30pm. Ages 6+ (under 8s accompanied)

In this one-hour workshop create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by our latest exhibition. Use words, photos and your own drawings to explore this popular Victorian pastime.


Thursday 26th – Friday 27th: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Thursday 26th August: Alex Danson Hockey Masterclass @ Devizes Hockey Club

Olympic Gold Medallist Alex Danson runs a hockey masterclass.  Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.


Fri 27th

Saturday 28th: The Fulltone Festival 2021 @ The Green, Devizes

The highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green.


WIND IN THE WILLOWS, 28 August, 6.30pm @ Pound Arts.

A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, performed in The Pound arts centre car park. Calf 2 Cow wowed a sold out crowd here at the arts centre back in June with their outdoor theatrical extravaganza “The Wave”, and now they’re back! This time they’re retelling a classic children’s tale, known the world over, with a modern gig-theatre twist. https://mailchi.mp/poundarts/wind-in-the-willows-a-theatrical-outdoor-experience

Sunday August 29th: Pop Princesses @ Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

A Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars! This is the children’s pop concert with a big difference. A musical spectacular starring four fabulous Fairy tale Princesses who just love to sing! It’s the perfect mix. Featuring a soundtrack of top pop hits from artists such as Little Mix, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and internet sensation, JoJo Siwa, plus songs from all your favourite Films and Musicals.


Mon 30th

Tues 31st

September:

Wed 1st

Thurs 2nd

Fri 3rd

Saturday 4th September: Twilight Cinema in the Park @ Hillworth Park, Devizes

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Hillworth announce this year’s Twilight Cinema film is the Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long!! Pre-film music, pop-up bars, and food. Tickets.


Saturday 4th September: Horrible Histories Live @ Bath Forum

We all want to meet people from history! The trouble is everyone is dead!

So it’s time to prepare for Horrible Histories live on stage with the acclaimed production of Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians!

Are you ready to swing with a Georgian king? Can you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke the Wellington get the boot? Dare you dance the Tyburn jig? Will you be saved by Florence Nightingale? Find out what a baby farmer did and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria!

Don’t miss this horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!

BOOK HERE.


Sun 5th




Trending….

A Detonation at the Southgate with Vince, Tamsin, Phil and Jamie

Could it be, I wonder this Sunday morning after a grand evening at our dependable Southgate, that being couped up and unable to play to a live audience for what feels like a decade, has planted fire in the bellies of musicians and a drive to return to the spotlight in an explosively intense and mind-blowing manner?

Image by Nick Padmore

It certainly felt this way with the Boot Hill All Stars giving it their all, last weekend at Honey Street’s Barge, and again, last night where a “Plus Friends,” gig took place at the Gate, in the blaze of glory local folk have come to expect from the homegrown talented musicians involved.

Image by Nick Padmore

As far from a band name as a desperate attempt to rehash a once-trendy US sitcom, Plus Friends is the banner for a looser formulation, I’m assuming, to temporarily disassociate the trio of Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin from their Lost Trades Americana branding and allow themselves the freedom to adlib and play in unison their separate songs as solo artists, generally rock out, and perhaps throw in a cover at will, as they did with a finale of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere. Though covers were scarce, the crowd know these guys only too well, and their original penned songs.

Plus, and, most importantly where the “plus” part falls neatly into place, to add a fourth member in par rather than “support,” that being the modest acoustic local legend, Vince Bell. Not forgoing this allowance also saw Jamie’s eldest son occasionally join them on percussion, adding to the overall “family” nature of the homecoming gig.

Image by Nick Padmore

And that’s precisely how it felt for punters and performers alike, a true community recovering from isolation the best way they know how. “This is how it should be,” delighted photographer Nick Padmore told me at the end. Because while the Southgate’s dedication to bringing variety, and artists who might well be unbeknown to Devizes is most welcomed, nothing raises the roof quite like Vince belting out his satirical prose about his hometown and the crowds joyously joining in with the “and you ain’t ever leaving!” chorus.

Image by Nick Padmore

It hallmarks everything great about this splendid occasion, and a true Devizes-fashioned return of live music with homegrown talent abound.

But it’s not just the brilliance of Vince, Tammy, Jamie and birthday-boy Phil, to perform with bells on, which made the evening, rather the friendly assembly of local live music aficionados too, with their meeting of the “same ol’ faces” not fully grouped since lockdown begun. And, in turn, the Southgate to accommodate them so welcomingly within current regulations.

Image by Nick Padmore

There’s a streamlined table service, its dedicated staff have the efficiency of McDonald’s, and the genuine friendliness of Disneyland. Though such comparisons should end there, for The Southgate is far from the mechanism of commercialism, rather a rustic haven for those seeking a “real” West Country pub experience, and within it, creating a free music venue that performers are queuing to play.

It’s without doubt the sum of all these parts made it so many chose our Southgate over Gareth’s squad on the tele-box, a brief “footballs coming home” chant raised by Jamie being the only reference to the Euros necessary. No, we’re happy here, thank you. Content to hear the welcoming homely vocals of Tamsin Quin, the passionately executed sentimental writings of Jamie as he rings out solo classics such as his tribute to his dad, the rockier side to Phil Cooper as he selects a tune from his solo lockdown album, These Revelation Games and the beautifully arranged understated lyrics of Vince as they so eloquently weave a tapestry of narrative. And as my opening presumption noted, they delivered it with such Jack-in-the-box passion, what once would have been a pretty standard gig down the Gate was more akin to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Oh yes, more of that, please!

Image by Nick Padmore

And our wish is granted, as The Southgate’s gig calendar is building as if 2020 never happened; next Saturday, 10th July sees Swindon’s premier ska covers band The Skandals, with ex-Skanxter Carl Humphries returning as frontman. Sunday is the turn of Essex’s finest Americana roots band, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective.

One weekend after is all you need to wait until reggae duo Jon Lewis & Jah-man Aggrey, TwoManTing, on Saturday 17th, Rockport Blues on 24th, and Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning rocks up on the final Saturday of July. The dates are booked into August too, with Kevin Brown on the 7th and the brilliant Strange Folk on the 9th October, but you can bet your bottom dollar dates in-between these will crop up very soon, check the event guide as I attempt to keep ahead and update it without getting too frustrated with cancelations, or the Southgate’s Facebook page, where the spirit of live music lives on, as proved last night.

Update: check the board, not the Facebook!

All Images used with kind permission of Nick Padmore


Our compilation album is out now and raising money for Julia’s House Children’s Hospices; click to download your copy!
Got your ticket to MantonFest yet? Hurry up, I need a lift!

International Reggae Day; 10 Reggae Facts You May/May Not Know!

Ya mon, today, July 1st marks International Reggae Day, so put pan sum a dat irie muzik an git skanking. To help celebrate here’s some interesting facts about Jamacia’s national sound you may/may not have heard before, depending how up pon da scene you is.

1: Bob Marley &The Wailers Were Fired as Support Act for Sly & The Family Stone

Debatably, Bob Marley & The Wailers were booted off the 1973 Sly & The Family Stone US tour for upstaging them. It was early days for the band internationally, and they had fire in their heart and motivation to succeed. Meanwhile, Sly and The Family Stone were at the top of their game, the peak of their career, and it was largely reported the funk misfits were too intoxicated to play well. The Wailers were fired after the first four or five shows with Sly and The Family Stone, leaving much dispute to the reason. Me, I can read between the lines and it’s blatantly obvious why!

2: One of the Most Influential Figures of Reggae, was a Nun

Aside the obvious Bob Marely, one of the single most influential figures in the history of reggae was Sister Mary Ignatius Davies. A Sister of Mercy, Mary Ignatius Davies was an inspirational music teacher at Kingston’s Alpha Boys School. Prominent in the advances of ska and reggae, her music tuition at this “school for wayward boys” influenced many of the pioneers of ska, including Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One legendary inhouse band, The Skatalites, many who would later make up the Wailers backing band for Bob Marley.  

3: Desmond Dekker Was Turned Down by Major Recording Producers

One of the greatest figures of reggae has to be Desmond Dekker, famed for the 1969 Pyramid song, The Israelites with his backing band, The Aces. Indeed, Desmond was prominent throughout the ska and rock steady periods too, and it was Dekker who encouraged a young Bob Marley, workmate in a welding factory, to approach Jimmy Cliff, which sparked his success. But if Desmond Dekker is celebrated for his smooth vocals, we should note he failed his own auditions at both the most dominant Jamaican studios, Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One and Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle, in 1961. Resulting in working for the lesser Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s record label later that year.

4: Red, Red Wine Was Written and Originally Performed by Neil Diamond

Think any of any reggae single to be most asked at a standard family disco in the UK, and I’ll guarantee it will be UB40’s 1983 version of Red, Red Wine. A number 1 hit for UB40, it sparked a new path for them in recreating and covering older reggae tunes. But while the song had indeed been a boss reggae hit for Tony Tribe, reaching only 46 on the UK chart in 1969, it was in fact written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967, included on Diamond’s second studio album, Just for You; a fact that even UB40 was unaware of at the time of releasing the song!

5: The Ethos of Hip Hop Came from Reggae

Okay, I might get shot via a drive-by for this one, but it’s an often-obscured fact that the originator of hip hop, the Bronx’s DJ Kool Herc was a Jamaican immigrant to New York, who despite moving with his family at just twelve years old, he grew up around Kingston’s dance hall sound system parties and wanted to bring the ethos to New York. Indeed, he did, as the bloc-party can be easily compared with the Jamaican sound system parties of the fifties and sixties. The only difference was, New Yorkers favoured the currently trending funk music, like James Brown, and Herc was quick to pick up on what the people wanted and adapt to the genre. But still, the ethos is comparable to reggae far more than soul.

6: Aswad are the Backing Band on Bob Marley’s Jamming

There are many facts I could throw at you about Marley’s second stay in England during 1977, while for his protection he was encouraged to flee Jamacia after a shooting incident. Firstly, that Punky Reggae Party was inspired by Don Letts introducing him to the punk movement, especially the Clash, it wasn’t recorded until he returned to Jamaica, at Joe Gibbs studio. The B-side was recorded in London though, with Aswad as backing. And I bet you thought the pinnacle of their career wasn’t until 1988 when they scored a UK number one with “Don’t Turn Around?”

7: Naomi Campbell Appeared in Marely’s Is This Love Video

Another fact about Marley’s stay in England was the music video for 1978’s Is This Love, produced and shot at the Keskidee Arts Centre in London. It’s a wonderful film in which Bob parties with the children of the centre, but watch out for the little girl sleeping, who Marley covers up with a blanket; it’s supermodel Naomi Campbell, at only seven years old!

8: Johnny Rotten Flooded the UK Market with Reggae

Richard Branson too, for he created Virgin’s short-lived reggae subsidy in 1978, Front Line, by sending Johnny Lydon of the Sex Pistols to Jamacia to sign as many artists as he could in reaction of Chris Blackwell’s Island Records success with Bob Marley & The Wailers. Rotten came back with contracts from U-Roy, The Mighty Diamonds, Keith Hudson, Johnny Clarke, Peter Tosh, I Roy, Prince Far I, Big Youth, Prince Hammer, Tappa Zukie, Sly Dunbar, and The Twinkle Brothers, to name but a few.

9: Toots & The Maytals Narrowly Missed Being Bigger Than Bob Marley & The Wailers

At a time when reggae was seen as a “novelty” music outside of Jamacia, resident Chris Blackwell, owner of Island Records wanted to bring a reggae band to the international stage in a similar light to a rock band. For this he toyed between signing either The Maytals or The Wailers. Though he didn’t want to deal with the young, rude boys which were the Wailers, he figured he would take his chances, as Toots & The Maytals sung too gospel for a white audience to accept. Together with the notion Marely was mixed-raced, he signed The Wailers first and advanced them money to make their debut album, Catch a Fire. While he quickly signed the Maytals soon after, he concentrated his efforts mainly on Bob, dividing him from Pete Tosh and Bunny Wailer, and it was in competition with Toots which concerned Marley the most.

10:  Mark Lamarr Stopped Shabba Ranks from Becoming Reggae’s Next International Reggae Superstar

By 1992 Dancehall was fast becoming acceptable on an international level, and the king was due to be Shabba Ranks. He had gained popularity partulcarly in the USA, where he secured a contract with Epic Records, and won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. How a shadow was cast during his appearance on Channel 4’s The Word, when Mark Lamarr probed him for his opinion on Buju Banton’s controversial homophobic song Boom Bye Bye, which advocated the shooting of gays.

Live on TV, grasping a bible, Shabba called for the “crucifixion of homosexuals,” claiming it to be the “word of God.” Lamarr retorted, “That’s absolute crap and you know it!” Shabba may have been unaware just how grave his comments were, where in Jamacia such values are lesser thought of at the time, but it had serious consequences for him, and sent dancehall music back a decade in advancing to a popular international music. Immediately Ranks was dropped from a Bobby Brown concert, and despite making a formal apology, Sony released him from his contract three years later.

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 Barker, and comedy from Lucy Porter, who you’ll know from Live At The Apollo, Would I Lie To You and QI.

Lady Nade

Kicking off on the 5th and continuing throughout until 11th, there’s theatre for the very youngest, check out the The Bug Hotel and there’s even a Bug Making Workshop. Fly in/Drive in Cinemas, pre-school workshops where you will create your very own broomstick and hat before flying into the auditorium to watch a free, short family film, on 7th and 8th July.

Absurdist-fiction author and New York Times Bestseller Jasper Fforde does an author’s talk on the 9th July, and the 10th is the All Day Aardman Filmathon with an Aardman Model Making Workshop aimed at children aged 6 and above.

And it’s the 8th July, at 8:00pm when the wonderful Lady Nade takes the stage, Emily Barker on the Saturday the 10th. Sunday polishes off the festival with Lucy Porter, after Apocalyptic Circus return to The Pound with a visually striking, highly skilled circus and comedy show for all the family called My House.

Other events planned throughout the festival include a Blue-Sky Mural project, a Silent Disco, Fun Community Singalong Workshop, Jimmy Jams Breakfast Storytime with Gav Cross, work in progress from the Debut Dance Company.

Lucy Porter

OUT NOW!

OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

As a nipper I’d spend days, entire school holidays, making mixtapes as if I worked for Now, That’s What I Call Music! In the era before hi-fi, I’d sit holding a microphone to the radio’s speaker, adventurously attempting to anticipate when Tony Blackburn was going to talk over the tune, and just when In the Air Tonight peaked with Phil’s crashing drums, my dad would shout up the stairs that my tea was ready; eternally caught on tape, at least until my Walkman screwed up the cassette.

Crude to look back, even when I advanced to tape-to-tape, I discovered if I pressed the pause button very slowly on the recording cassette deck, it would slide into the next song, and with a second of grinding squeal Howard Jones glided into Yazoo!! Always the DJ, just never with the tech! Rest assured; this doesn’t happen on this, our Various Artists compilation album, 4 Julia’s House. And oh, have I got some news about that?!

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

We did it! Thanks once again to all our fabulous contributing artists, our third instalment of detailed sleeve notes will follow shortly, but for now, I couldn’t wait another day, therefore, I’ve released it half a day early, this afternoon!

Now all that needs to happen is to get promoting it, and you can help by sharing news of this on your social media pages, thank you. Bloggers and media please get in touch, and help me raise some funds for Julia’s House.

I’ve embedded a player, in which you should be able to get a full try before you buy, I believe you get three listens before it’ll default and tell you to buy it. I hope you enjoy, it has been a mission and half, but one I’d gladly do again.

Please note: there are many artists giving it, “oh no, I was going to send you a track!” Fear not, there is still time, as I’ll causally start collecting tunes for a volume 2, and when the time is ready and we have enough songs, we will do it. It might be for another charity, I’d personally like to do another raising funds for The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, but that’s unconfirmed as of yet.

You know, sometimes I think I could raise more money with less effort by trekking down through the Market Place in a bath of cold baked beans, but I wanted to bring you a treasured item comprising of so many great artists we’ve featured, or will be featuring in the near future on Devizine. Never before has all these artists been on one huge album like this, and look, even if you don’t care for a particular tune, there’s 46 of them, check my maths as I pride myself on being exceptionally rubbish at it, but I make that 22p a track, and all for such a worthy cause!


Click for info on Julia’s House

“We are so grateful to Devizine and all of the local artists who are taking part in the charity album to raise funds for Julia’s House. We don’t receive any government funding for the care we give to families in Wiltshire, so the support we receive from our local community is so important.”

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

Various Artists 4 Julia’s House; Here’s More of the Tracks!

I have been a busy bee, trying to get the truckload of info we need to cover to get a full perspective on just how great this album is and all the fabulous artists and bands have thankfully got behind it. So, find below another bout of the extensive track listings with a brief bio and links to the artists. I’m dividing it into three sections, this is the second, the final piece of the puzzle will be here shortly. It would be simply too much information to digest if were all the tracks in one article, and I really need you to check out the acts you like the sound of, like them up on social media, send them love, and buy their music, as they’ve so generously given to this worthy project.

Through reading blogposts and case studies on the Julia’s House website, it’s only becoming clear how outstanding the charity is, and how much amazing and often heart-breaking work they do. I was honoured to meet with Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House, who said, “we are so grateful to Devizine and all of the local artists who are taking part in the charity album to raise funds for Julia’s House. We don’t receive any government funding for the care we give to families in Wiltshire, so the support we receive from our local community is so important.”

Stuart Whant of the band Barrelhouse also turned up, and Gazette & Herald reporter Kirsten Robertson, who should be penning an article this coming week, which is our official release date; finally, as of Tuesday 29th June, it should be live and ready to download. You can, by the way, pre-order it, as many have already done, and we’ve raised around about £75 already, and it’s not even out yet! But we still need you to not only buy, but share your shopping hoard with the world, let them know they need this album in their life, to help save other lives.

Aware you cannot sample the songs, probably due to something I’ve messed up in the BandCamp settings, I put together a YouTube video, which took an age, but has a clip of every song on the album.

There’s also a change, as we welcome Urban Lions late to the party. Entirely my fault, juggling conversing to so many musicians in different chat windows I lost track waffling about cover versions and Rupert Bear to recall where we were in asking them to donate a tune. Corrected now, track 44 will be Urban Lions – We Say I. Our most amazing Big Ship Alliance track, All in this Thing Together, should’ve also added the info it features Johnny2Bad, Robbie Levi & Stones too, so I’ve corrected this. More on those tunes in the next instalment, when we detail the finale of the track listing; not enough hours in the day! Here’s 21 to 33, and I’m going to have a little lie down!

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

Member of Devizes School boy band, 98 Reasons in the noughties, Sam partnered with another bandmate, Finley Trusler to create the popular Larkin duo. Now he’s studying music at Winchester, and releasing solo singles and the recent EP Lost Promises. This really shows experimentation into some amazing vocal arrangements, and we’re delighted to have a live acoustic version of one track, Wild Heart.

https://www.facebook.com/sambishopmusician/


22. Mr Love & Justice – The Other Side of Here

Steve Cox is frontman of this Swindon-based 21st Century Anglicana, acoustic guitar-driven folk/pop collective. A contemporary English take on the west coast cross-over sound of the late 1960s, Mr Love & Justice are a Swindon-based, fronted by singer/songwriter Steve Cox. Since 1992, they’ve four albums under their belts and handful of EPs. This track is an out-take from the 2003 album Homeground, available as a download only single from the forthcoming album Memory Box, and it’s wonderful.

https://mrloveandjustice.com/the-homepage


23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

Southampton-based five-piece mod band, Barmy Park, consists of bassist Paul Smith, Chris White on lead guitar, Martin Ford on keys, drummer Terry Goulding and guitarist and lead vocals Jeff Worrow. Yes, you read that right, another one with the palindrome surname Worrow, and yes, somewhere along the line we are related; that’s how I got to hear about this awesome band!

https://barmypark.bandcamp.com/


24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

One half of this cousin duo we’ve already mentioned, Finley Trusler partnered with Sam Bishop to form Larkin from the ashes of their school boyband 98 Reasons. Finely now partners with Harvey Trusler to form this beguiling, usually covers duo The Truzzy Boys. Like many live bands, during lockdown the boys worked on some singles, releasing this one in March 2020, and Not the One more recently. Finely also recently joined fantastic local mod group, The Roughcut Rebels, as frontman; no doubt to lower the group’s age demographic!


25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

Daydream Runaways

Here’s a shining example of why I love doing Devizine; I’ve tracked the progress of this promising young indie-pop band since day dot, and like a fine wine, they get better with age! Hailing half from Swindon, half from Devizes, Daydream Runaways restored my faith in the genre, with a feelgood eighties sound, they rock. They raised the roof at our fundraising gig in Devizes Cellar bar, after a tragic fire devastated some local residents. They rocked Vinyl Realm’s second stage at our town’s street festival, and they’ve continued to wow with every single release, compiling them onto an EP called Dreamlands. I’m proud to offer you this revamped version of their debut single, Light the Spark. June sees the release of a new track, Curtains.


26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

It was January 2019 when I reviewed Resolve, and album of indie-pop by Swindon band Talk in Code, and akin to Daydream Runaways, they’ve gone from strength to strength since. Locally they’ve created a huge fanbase, they call “talkers,” and festival bookings have been widespread. Talk Like That was released in January last year, and was the beginnings of this crisp eighties pop-rock style we’ve now come to love them for. Last month saw the release of Face to Face.


27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

Longcoats

More indie-pop with an eighties twist, from Bath’s latest sensation, Longcoats. Here’s their penultimate single, Pretty in Pink, and it rocks. We reviewed it, we love it here at Devizine, in fact, we’ve loved their sound since we joined frontman Ollie’s Facebook group The Indie Network in May last year. Another young band going from strength to strength.


28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

Wrapping up our upcoming indie-pop bands section, sonically, Swindon’s Atari Pilot are massively prolific. I discovered them early last year, and reviewed Wrong Captain, been loving their sound since. Supporting Talk in Code recently at Swindon’s Level III, there’s a community of comparable bands on the same circuit, the aforementioned Daydreamers and Longcoats, creating a great, flourishing scene. I’m delighted to be able to create a compilation with all of them featured.


29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

During lockdown I kicked off an idea which caught on, save a concentrated review where I tend of waffle off on a tangent, I could quickly turnaround a Song of the Day post, on my phone usually. This allows me to find new artists to plug, and a funky track called Something to Believe in, by Bristol’s Andy J Williams had me hook, line and sinker, leading to a full review of his album Buy all the $tuff!


30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

Did everyone know Malmsbury’s The Dirty Smooth, except me, I asked back in November last year, when they sent me this absolutely blinding track for a mention. Since their debut single six years ago, The Dirty Smooth are no strangers to the festival circuit, gaining a reputation for playing original, anthemic pop songs. On top of numerous live appearances, they helped organise the Minety Music Festival in 2017. Shortlisted at the UK Festival Awards it has become a well-established festival, hosting acts like Toploader, Republica and Chesney Hawkes. Over the past two years, but setback by lockdown, they’ve been working towards a forthcoming album, Running From The Radar.


31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

Image by Justin Smythe

What can I say? The name grabbed me, right off the poster for this September’s Swindon Shuffle. Additional information on this alternative electronica/funky-punk, highly-fluorescently branded Swindon outfit Facebook page reads, “Don’t worry, it will be alright. Kind Regards, SexJazz.” The latest single in their prolific discography is titled, “Time is a Twat,” so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how seriously they take themselves. This, Metallic Blue, is a dynamite tune, completely original, in-your-face and addictive.


32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

Ah, it wouldn’t be a complete compilation without Ruzz Guitar and his Blues Revue. Bristol-based rock n roll like you’ve never heard before, I’m not having a 50th birthday party unless I can book these guys! Frenzied rock n roll fused blues with panache, extended from what would usually exhaust a musician in over three-minutes, to epic proportions, probably the reason with he’s endorsed by Gretsch Guitars and worked with legends. This track is taken from a wholly instrumental album, aptly called “The Instrumental Sounds Of…” and it’s wonderful with bells on and a double-bass.


33. The Boot Hill All Stars – Monkey in the Hold

Ah, those crazy Boot Hill All Stars from Frome, favourites of the west country festival circuit for over 12 years, present this frenzied ska-related riff over their scrumpy & western style. As writing this I’ve returned from The Barge at Honeystreet where they blew the roof off the marquee. So pleased to be able to blast a track of theirs in your general direction, but you’ll have to provide your own feather dusters and girdles.

 


And that’s quite enough to digest for one Sunday; I’ll get to last 13 tracks as soon as my sausage-fingers will allow, hopefully by Tuesday, when the album is launched.


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 singer compliment it, but supplying entertainment to suit a crowd eager to get social lives up and running again is the tricky part.

For the Barge at Honeystreet, with its unique combo of a pub, wharf and campsite, historically it created a perpetual mini-festival atmosphere, ergo they’re no strangers to understanding how to accommodate restrictions and still throw a mind-blowing party.

What the now-owners have done is nothing short of miraculous; to enhance this ethos, and create an apt space to house the original concept.

With fields-worth of camping pitches, tipi glamping zone, the derelict barn transformed into a tremendously decorated arts and performance space, a brilliant children’s playpark, suitable showers and washroom facilities, the many vast improvements have made the Barge something folk could only dream of in years gone by. And for which they should be extremely proud.

Glamping in the bell tents at The Barge

Naturally, I had to check this out myself, improvements already underway prior to lockdown when I last paid a visit, for Knati P and Nick’s Skanga sound system. Of course, back then we danced inside the pub, and given when I booked tickets for this Boot Hill All Stars extravaganza, we were under the impression restrictions would be fully lifted.

To maintain decorum and keep everyone seated while hosting a gig from a scrumpy and western, Wurzels-meets-the Specials in a kind of frenzied gypsy-folk-punk band of misfits, eagerly anticipating their first performance since lockdown, was never going to be easy. Yet through sheer respect for what the owners of the Barge have achieved, restrictions were adhered to and the best made of a bad situation.

Junksville Geetar!

Crowds remained seated, within the huge airy marquee, though were aching to break out in dance fever, as the celebrated Boot Hill All Stars did their thing, with bells on, corsets, fluffy dusters and frontman Flounder wearing a testicles necklace and sporting a new twin-tooth Ripsaw Resonator made from recycled and renovated material from Junksville Guitars. All revealed as they disrobed from their “lockdown attire” dressing gowns!

But this was not before support came from the bizarrely unique jack-hammered blues duo, Dry White Bones. Unique I say by way of a Dave on harmonica, and a washboard dangling from his neck, with metallic camping mug, and a variety of homemade percussion features attached, to compliment his other half’s rusty but powerful blues vocals plus acoustic guitar. The pair make quite a show, with entertaining banter and an improbably unpredicted sound; Dave breaking into a sublime harmonica solo of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald’s Summertime, only as an intro to their own composition, for example, is nothing short of genius. Yet, if you feel a guy tapping a camping mug sounds a bit silly, this is something you really have to witness yourself to fully appreciate.

To the main event of the show, and it is a show, rather than a gig; think vaudeville in a gypsy caravan, circus at Madstock to just go part of the way. It’s an expression of unabashed folly, where Toots & the Maytals’ Monkey Man, can befittingly follow a frantic cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Props such as chairs for Cossack dancing, and handheld signs, one reading “tiny Jesus,” the other, “on a hot cross bun” correspond to their original and humorous song titles. A gig where if dancing is not allowed the gang encourage items of clothing be waved around instead, ending with a pair of bloomers landing on Flounder’s guitar headstock.

Classics known to Boot Hill fans, the comical female masturbatory subject of Devil’s Doorbell to ska-fuelled Night Bus and Monkey in the Hold and were accomplished, (the latter I plug is on our 4 Julia’s House compilation,) but not before a few new, lockdown-related tunes were presented; one of the NHS, the second concerning the Homer Simpson practise of drinking alone in your underpants. With twelve years of doing this under their belt, though they confessed nerves to me prior to going on, it seemed like riding a bike to the punters, stimulated by the epic routine.

There could be no act more apt for The Barge at Honeystreet, yet with a restaurant, and passing activities along the canal or campsite like paddle boating, The Record Deck longboat record store, and Stephanie and Simon’s traditional printing press from a pink milkfloat to name but a few, there’s always something happening, and it’s usually bonkers. As for gigs, the show must go on, and for a mere fiver ticket stub, next Friday sees the arrival of Grizzley and the Grasshoppers, Saturday night will go off with local legendary resident DJ and producer Rich the Ditch and friends on the wheels of steel, and Somerset hip hop outfit, Monkey Bizzle’s album launch on the following Friday 9th July, in this pocket of resistance from our affluent conservative corner of the universe.

Me? I got out of the rut and had a blinder, thanks for asking.


Trending….

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…..

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…..


Thirty Years a Raver. Part 6: Impact Zone

Final piece of the series then, and a conclusion… One More Tune!!!

By 1994 the Criminal Justice Bill had become an act. Attempts to enforce it were either greatly exaggerated, such as riot vans and police helicopters crashing a birthday barbeque, or were disregarded as an unnecessary government enforcement from the police on the ground. Though we may never have had another Castlemorton, the mid-nineties and even into the millennium, free raves struck back from the body-blow.

Urbanised parties took over railway arches, disused warehouses and squats, the people fought tooth and nail to preserve the culture, and in a way, they did. Rural parties continued, localised and smaller, but communal and friendly. Albeit any forces resisting against them, caused many larger ones to become more viciously anarchistic over time. There were attempts to party in aid of a greater cause, environmental issues for example, such as the Reclaim the Streets protests.

Yet in turn, rave bore an impact on culture and society, which outreached the free party scene. We spoke of musical genres breaking apart, so that large pay-raves erected multiple tents of differing sounds; house, drum n bass, techno, happy hardcore, speed garage, the list continued to get more diverse, until at Universe’s Tribal Gathering 1997, where originators of computer-generated music, Kraftwerk played a main stage, and everyone from each individual subgenre tent came out to pay respects to the roots.

Likewise, Liverpool super-club Cream wanted in on the large festival rave, and created Creamfields, where the likes of Run DMC played. And the scene redeveloped in many avenues, Acid Jazz was popularised, and if it was only short-lived, it birthed incredibly successful Jamiroquai. It also returned hip hop to the forefront, as breakbeat, chemical and big beat were the sounds of the later nineties. The indie and rave divide, parted dramatically since the days of Madchester, the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, and Primal Scream’s Screamadeleica had realigned, with the punk nature of the Prodigy’s new look. The crossover blended once again, as indie kids accepted electronica wasn’t intending to lay down and die.

Clubs rocked to The Dust Brothers, later to be the Chemical Brothers. Mo-Wax, Skint and Wall of Sound roared a big beat, hip hop melting pot ethos, rooted by rave parties, and everyone flooded to Brighton beach to see Norman Cook “large it” as Fatboy Slim.

What was clear, by this conjunction, while the movement had altered, and divided, rave was now embedded in our culture, and was spreading globally. The paid peanuts DJs who once rocked up to an illegal rave now jetsetters, playing clubs worldwide.

Clubland never had it so good, buy a MixMag, relish in a party, legally, without the need of convoys, service station coups and risks of police brutality. I bought a silk shirt, wore it at Lakota in Bristol, but headed there after a free party in the forest of Longleat, the night before, and without care for basic hygiene, my paisley chic was ruined by the sweat marks of a boxer. I was oblivious ‘til presented with embarrassing photographic evidence afterwards.

But commercialisation of the culture had always loomed. In the race to become the “king of rave,” as rock n roll had Elvis and reggae had Marley, they failed to note this plastic throwaway ethos I’ve previously mentioned. In 1992, thousands of twenty-somethings blissfully unaware of the references, sang ‘Eezer Goode ‘Eezer Goode He’s Ebeneezer Goode, simply because the Shamen reached number one in the pop charts, in just the same way thirty years previously, no-hopers sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” oblivious to its blatant LSD connotations. I’d argue if we have to have a “king of rave” it’d would have been the ever-progressive Prodigy, but they never cared to call for the title.

The point is, commercialisation got the better of us eventually, as it did for every previous outrageous youth culture. It would be difficult to imagine in the days of Scott Joplin, that his rags would be considered conforming for a hoity-toity jazz festival in market towns like Marlborough, as in the 1910s, he played to lewd degenerates and desperate sailors in New York’s underworld and bawdy brothels.  In a short few years after the peak of rave culture, Leftfield’s Release the Pressure will be used in an advert for Cheese Strings. And don’t get me started on Yo Gabba Gabba.

And now we live in a time when reflections of nostalgia from forty-somethings comply with Albert Trotter moments, and a misunderstanding of what happened is ingrained in our culture. I cringe at how the tragic Wonder Woman sequel depicted the eighties, in an almost caricatured version of the fashion, and foresee bearded twenty-somethings attending wistful “rave” nights dressed in glow sticks like tourists on planet Mars. I never waved a fucking glowstick in the nineties, any more than I wore legwarmers in the eighties!

A van speeds past me, a youngster wears his hood up while driving. Why? Is there a leak in the van’s roof? Yes, we ravers popularised the hooded top in the UK long before the “hoody” culture, and if we wore the hood up, it was because we came out from a sweatbox into the cool night air with perspiration evaporating off of us. We did it to prevent dehydration from precipitation, rather than cos it made us look well ‘ard.

And then Ollie Murs’ heart skips a beat, with a drum loop the Ratpack would’ve rejected in 91, and I yell, NO! Get your own youth culture kids, nicking ours is disillusioned by commercialisation, unless you’re standing chilly at Peartree services at 3am, teeth masticating the life out of a slice of Wrigleys, eyes like saucers, and waving your arms about like a broken robot with a hundred others, surrounded by cars beeping their horn and playing a chewed up Easygroove cassette, then you are not a raver. And don’t you even let me see you asking Alexa to search the word cassette!

Last thing I want to do is end this series on a sour note, but duty calls. I read an article about how the days of the illegal rave had returned in all its former glory. “It was just like 1992,” they quoted in a story about a warehouse takeover, then informed partygoers discovered the happening via a Tweet. Eh? Have a word with yourself, Tweets were a novelty eighties band who rehashed an oom-pah so your granny could do a little bit of this and a little bit of that and shake her bum at some family disco of yore. We went raving without a clue what a pager was, while scare-story spreading tabloids suggested we all had mobile phones, in an era where mobile phones were thought of as the devil’s business. They couldn’t comprehend how an entire generation could all descend onto one field simply by word-of-mouth.

  “…and if you tell that to the young people today, they won’t believe you…”

The Four Yorkshire Men sketch, Monty Python.


In conclusion; as we say farewell to my little series reflecting back on those heady ravey dayz, I’ll confirm, there was numerous amazing times, the best times of my life, times evoking stories I could bore you into an early grave with. And by the thankful response to this series and the masses of posts of stories from so many old skool ravers in the variety of Facebook groups, it is clear I’m not alone in this theory. Although, my rose-tinted specs were large enough to engulf those dilated pupils throughout most of the examination.

Probably the most active of those groups, aforementioned DOCU FREE PARTY ERA 1990-1994 – WERE YOU THERE? was originally set up as a research project by one Aaron Trinder a filmmaker on a mission to document the era in a film. We wish him all the best of luck with this monumental task. And it is a monumental task, as unlike most previous youth cultures which borrowed from various trends and cultures, say the teddy boys borrowed extensively from rock-n-roll, mods borrowed from jazz, Italian suits and scooters, and so on, rave borrowed from everything and anything.

United, the melting pot came from any source, we electrified it and, even if it was relatively short-lived, what exhausted out inspired everything that went hereafter; modern pop, multiple dance music subgenres, fashion, video technology, literature, children’s entertainment, and most importantly, despite the authorises misunderstanding us and their traditionist values causing hateful vengeance upon us, a wealth of people power; the notion that masses can make a difference to life, society and politics. Evident by politicians consistently doing what our Iron Lady wouldn’t do at the time, make a U-turn to save their popularity and votes. For this, we should all be proud.

I would reward myself with one last disco biscuit, but I’m unsure if my ticker would take it. Slapped with a finale date though, it would be on my bucket list, and what a way to go, reaching for the skies in one last sweet harmony…..


Trending……

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 at St George’s in her hometown of Bristol.

Reviewing after just the one listen is usually dodgy ground, but when an album engrosses you as Willing does, it’s all that’s necessary to reverberate the news to you just how fabulous this is.

If Lady Nade has a physical resemblance to Heather Small, she certainly has the deep and soulful voice to match, but any musical comparisons have to end there, unless either Mike Pickering is taken out of the equation or the nineties electronica inclination was mysteriously replaced by Nashville country. For pigeonholing this, it is soulful country, in sound and subject matter.

Written during the pandemic, there’s a secluded ambience echoing through these eleven sublime three-minute plus stories of friendship, love and loneliness lost and found, reflecting the fact it was recorded in multiple studios and engineered by all the musicians in isolation. Yet to hear it will hold you spellbound in a single place, till its conclusion.

With a folk tinge the title track kicks us off, and sucks you in with a romantic notion of loyalty. The slide-guitar fills a tale of faith against missing someone follows, and, lighter, You’re my Number One, trickles euphoria, warmly.

Indeed, mellow is the key throughout, Josette being breezily romantic, while Wild Fire offers a darker, moodier tenet. Whimsically spoken, One-Sided is perhaps the most beguilingly pop-like with a cannonball despondency you cannot help but be touched by. But if identification is what you’re after, Call Yourself a Friend has the sorrowful, trust vs cheating friendship, and accompanied by pedal-steel guitar-picking, traditional country music is honoured.

By Rock Bottom, as the title suggests, there’s a slight rock breeze to it without defiling its roots, Tom Petty style. Then we have the aforementioned, Peace and Calm, an upbeat, jollily ironic Many Ways to Sink This Ship, and Ain’t One Thing makes for a perfect finale, by summing up the perfect person to be in love with. What a gorgeous sentiment to seamlessly end a captivating album from start to finish.

It often perplexes me, how Ray Charles deviating from the jazz-laden soul ABC Records necessitated as the key to his achievement, to release the double-album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was considered so shocking, when artists such as Nashville’s DeFord Bailey was fusing harmonica blues into the more acceptable country style forty years prior. Still, some may be surprised by Lady Nade’s affection for Americana folk, but after one listen the surprise will turn into amazement.

As a form of healing from grief, Lady Nade started writing poems and songs, and performing locally, learning loss and sorrow isn’t something one can recover from alone, and with her music and recipes she creates a communal experience, a calling to connect with her fans on a deeper level. This shows in the sublime dedication she transfers to this, her third album.


Trending….

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 Call Boom Boom Racoon vol1 was off the head, newly released Songs From The Before Times & Some More takes it to a whole other level. Lockdown raw, rougher and more in your arrogant, fat consumerist face than ever before; put that sausage roll down and prepare to be barked at with a charming slice of satire and counterculture commentary.

Now reading that paragraph back makes it all seem so terrible, but under a blanket punk term, which only goes some way to pigeonhole the unpigeonholeable, irony is abound and Boom Boom Racoon are quite the opposite. This is nine three-minute plus enthrallingly exciting rides, and is undoubtedly entertaining to say the least.

Mixing rum and coffee, ie. turbo mocha time, Covid19-related Public Service Announcement 2020, are the lighter, comical subjects.

Whereas tightening border control in States and Nations, laboratory animal testing in Cages, human unecological practices compared to dinosaur extinction, and another anti-capitalist rant on how difficult it is to be sustainable in the modern era, are the more sombre and acute subjects, setting the world to rights.

And the way they work it, the words they’ve planned go against the homemade rawness of the sound. This isn’t off-the-cuff, there’s ingenious wordplay and poignant messages hidden beneath the fun attitude. The abolition, against the psychological effect of imprisonment and a need to sustain numbers by reforming laws to create criminals, for example, Boom Boom Racoon touch on radical notions or campaigns, and are fearless to state their core values.

Anthropocene it, Say it, Sorted probably carries the most poignant message, and is also the only track which has an amusing sample, unlike the previous aforementioned more polished album which has more, from The Simpsons to Harry Potter. And it comes in the shape of a rather stumblingly polite call from Kent Police regarding an animal rights protest, which is highly amusing.

The album ends hilariously on the most brilliant retort from taunts by your average knuckle-dragging homophobic bigot, I’m certain you know the sort, completing the overall contemporary leftism and reformist ethos which, if you tag the piffle term “snowflake” onto, beware, the unity here is compounded into a masterfully literate snowball, and it’s a brown one, and it’s aiming at your face!

Myself, I’d love for these raccoon pests to come trash the bins of our narrowminded community and welcome the opportunity of our more daring venues to book them for a live performance on the theory, well, on the theory, they’d steal the show.


Trending….

Liddington Hill Celtic Punk!

Sometimes, and quite a number of times I might add, nothing fits the bill quite like a bout of pounding bibulous Celtic punk, by a band with a girl donning a cow’s head as a mascot. But how far would you expect to trek to find such a group of misfits, Wales, Ireland?

Suggested in the name, Liddington Hill, the beautiful down overlooking Swindon, with the Ridgeway traversing and its iron age hillfort, is local enough. Not since the days of the Blitz, when the area was used as a “Starfish” decoy bombing bunker, has it been so explosive.

What’s the link to Liddington with this scorching five-piece band, who have just released their debut EP, Cow after a few singles, I felt imperative to ask? “We all lived in Swindon at the time we started,” fiddle and vocalist Matt told, “our singer grew up around the area and went up to Liddington Castle a lot as a child. It seemed to be a bit of a landmark and with the Ridgway close by had great links to the past, so I guess it just seemed like a good name.”

Two members remain in Swindon, the other two now live in Oxford, and drummer Chris hails from Chippenham. With fiddles and a bodhrán meshed with electric guitars, the line between punk and traditional Celtic folk cannot be yanked apart, not that there’s any good reason to try to.

The bobbing theme of a band drinking excursion to Oxford, Pub Crawl, follows a dynamic and unique slide-guitar take of the folk sea shanty, Whip Jamboree.

An almost new-wave post-punk feel is implemented into the melting pot with the third tune, Marshlands, an original song about lead guitarist Liam’s Grandfather in Ireland, “who wouldn’t ride a horse,” Matt explained, “but insisted on riding a cow!” Hence the cow symbolism, I’m best guessing.

The EP ends traditionally, with Joseph B. Geoghegan’s anti-war music hall classic, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, and Liddington Hill bless the folk feel with their brand of punk, making for a perfect finale. While it might not be as authentic as The Pouges, or as aggressive as The Levellers, with bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys storming success in the US, there’s a huge market for this beguiling genre, yet a scarcity on the local scene, and Liddington Hill pack a punch.

It’s a grower, and I’m loving this, anticipating possibility of an album to greater extend their scope, but as far as energetic presence is concerned, it’s kick-ass. Branded subtly, though, to suit a pub environment, so a live show, fingers crossed for their definite return, would be something highly memorable and I’d recommend landlords book them in; certainly, it’d push up the beer sales!


Trending…