REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Texas Tick Fever @ Three Crowns, Devizes, 4th June 2023

Andy Fawthrop

Free Fringe Frolics

Another day, another venue, and the Devizes Arts Festival is now getting into its stride.  This afternoon was the first of the five FREE events in this year’s programme, and what a cracker it turned out to be.

Texas Tick Fever hail from that there Stroud, up in the Wild North Country, and rolled into town full of energy on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the courtyard of The Three Crowns.  The Vize was about to be treated to some bluegrass, y’all.  Although they’re a firm fixture on the roots music circuit, they’re a band I’d not personally run into before.  Took ‘em about two numbers and I was quickly hooked.

The boys’ marketing BS had talked about their music being “moonshine-fuelled”, but this being The Vize, it was more Wadworth 6X and ice-cream-fuelled.  Not that that mattered in the slightest, as they were on absolutely top form.

Their blend of Americana/ roots/ hillbilly/ Appalachian/ backwoods/ hayseed and good old bluegrass quickly had the crowd applauding.  With plenty of wise-cracking and self-deprecating humour on the side, this was just perfect stuff for a lazy afternoon at the pub.  Featuring banjo and guitar, occasional harmonica, kick-drum and harmonising vocals, the guys made some great music.  There was new and original stuff, and plenty of covers, including Sittin’ On Top O’ The World, It Takes A Worried Man, Down In Mississippi and (believe it or not, older readers look away now) that old theme to The Beverly Hillbillies.  Amazing.  And who could forget their fully-deserved encore of Duelling Banjos?  Terrific stuff.

They’ve also won my “Best Introduction To A Song” Award for one of their intros.  Following a decent re-telling of the urban myth, where legend has it that Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads and gave him his soul in exchange for mastery of the guitar, Stretch leaned into the mic and grinned, saying “well, anyways, this next song has absolutely nothin’ to do with that”.  Comic timing at its best.

Absolutely terrific entertainment, and an early highlight of the Festival for me.

And there’s more FREE Fringe next Saturday 10th June in Condado Lounge with Jukebox James, next Sunday 11th June in the British Lion with Sisters & Brothers, and the following Saturday 17th June with Carrie Etter Poetry.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues at various venues around town until Saturday 17th June.  

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at  


Ajay Srivastav at Devizes Arts Festival 

“Do you know of anyone else doing something similar to what you’re doing?” I asked him as he crouched by the Cellar Bar’s vinyl banner, packing his resonator back into the guitar case.

He looked over his shoulder in contemplation and shook his head, “no.”

To think the only thing unusual this day and age about this is that I hinted there was live music Sunday evening at Devizes’ Cellar Bar, I’d say you’ve a point. The new owners of The Bear Hotel have yet to utilise the Cellar Bar to its former glory. Their prerogative, we can only encourage, being speculative articles published about the slight possibility the bar might reopen as a music venue tends to gain monumental attention, that the venue is clearly cherished by the natives, therefore it would surely be in their best interests.

It wouldn’t help my case much either if I told you the musician is a bluesman, as many a bluesman has graced our town. We could coin it, “The Mel Bush effect,” the influence of bringing big names to the Corn Exchange in the seventies gained Devizes a blues reputation and inspiring homegrown talent from The Hoax’s Robin Davey, Jon Amor, Doherty brothers, Innes Sibun, et al.

But there is something distinctively unique about this bluesman, Ajay Srivastav. With Indian heritage and Hindu faith he incorporates into his sound, writing and ethos, while still not definable as all-out bhangra akin to sitar virtuoso Ravi Shanker,  a dash of its spices are generously added to his melting pot; the main ingredient being delta blues. The result is something wonderful and uncomparable; the Devizes Arts Festival fringe event I’ve been holding out for.

The performance, in a word, was sublime. With a rich voice, Ajay sure knows how to handle that guitar, and was joined by proficient tabla player, Vinod Kerai, injecting the Eastern influence into these devine self-penned songs. Geniusly awash with thought-provoking prose and backed with verbal explanations, the delivery reflected the skill of Paul Simon, archetypal blues subject matter, of life lessons, contemplating intrapersonal and relationships, yet subtly incorporating Hindu ideology, even mythology, and still reflecting more generally so all could relate. For example, Ajay not only had teaching of Itihasa and Vedas, but even contrasted the fable of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads with the order from chaos of Maa Saraswati, Hindu goddess of education, creativity, and music. This said, a majority of thought applied here was of his own observations and musings, which was earnest when it needed to be, and amusing equally.

Far from this feeling rather preachy, it was presented in such a charismatic and western manner. It was casual yet informative, gracing the songs with context. The songs were constructed with love and attention to detail, so none stood out rather a gentle flow throughout which with squinted eyes took me on its desired journey. So some tunes summed his angle, Karmic Blues, others like Between the Cracks were personal reflections of fitting into society’s pigeonholes, and by the finale the pace picked up, replacing the contemplative for slightly more lighthearted content, like a romanticised devotion to Vasudhara called Six Arm Goddess.

If second generation Asians in dance music culture, like Asian Dub Foundation, Apache Indian and my personal favourite, Black Star Liner, have borrowed extensively from their roots, musically,  dance music is, in general, not the genre for placing your thoughts, and in this Ajay Srivastav is the whole deal, exceptionally unique and put simply, a delight to listen to. 

The Devizes Arts Festival continues. Our team are out there assessing its progress, but as lover of world music equally in key with our homegrown fashions, this topped both and now I fear I might struggle to find something to better it; time will tell….

REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Sir Willard White @ Corn Exchange, Devizes, 3rd June 2023

Bass Baritone Brilliance

Andy Fawthrop

It was time last night for The Devizes Arts Festival to roll out its first big-hitter of the 2023 programme, and what a smash it proved to be.  Although not quite sold out, the Corn Exchange was pretty full, and those who turned out were rewarded with a sparkling performance.

Sir Willard White is one of the world’s best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years.  He is a performer whose illustrious career has taken him to the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls throughout the world.  It was opera royalty come to pay us a state visit.

The evening opened with the Kymaera Duo, the twin guitars of Shane Hill and Simon James, who have been performing together for over twenty years.  Their beautiful and understated rendition of the classic “Summertime” set a very high bar for the rest of the evening.  Soon they were joined by the tastefully yellow waist-coated Sir Willard.

Over the next couple of hours we were entertained with songs and reminiscences from his life on stage and screen.  The songs were selected because they had been particularly important to him, or held some special meaning.  Pausing to explain and to introduce each piece, he took us on a musical journey from his youth in Jamaica, through his early career, the first truly complete recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in 1976 to the songs that made the bass-baritone singer Paul Robeson famous in the 1920s and ‘30s.  He explained that, amazingly, he had never wanted to be a singer in the professional sense, he just wanted to do something that would define him as “a real man”.  But, having tried out the idea of working in an office with a briefcase and a rolled umbrella, Mr. White (as he termed himself) discovered that would not be his life.

With occasional instrumental pieces from the guitar duo to spell the singer, the Great American Songbook was rolled out for us, together with a few other unexpected classics.  We had Gershwin, Nat King Cole, Aaron Copeland, and even Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.  “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “My Way”, “Ole Man River” were delivered in what appeared an effortless style, all the while accompanied by some fabulous guitar work.

A totally splendid performance and a deserved encore.  But even then it wasn’t over.  In an equally engaging coda to the evening, Sir Willard took questions from the floor.  In this section he revealed (even more that the main performance) what a really charming, urbane and thoughtful man he was.  His style was avuncular, gentle and understated, and his philosophy of life, of self-care (of voice and body) and of mutual self-respect was thought-provoking.  All in all, a great evening, and a worthy gem in the Arts Festival crown.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues, with events every day, until Saturday 17th June.  The full programme of events, times and prices is available online.

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at  

REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival – Tango Calor @ Town Hall, Devizes 2nd June 2023


Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster

The Devizes Arts Festival kicked off its 2023 programme with a real bang last night, and perhaps this will be the best one yet if the opening gig was anything to go by.…..

Tango Calor is, not surprisingly, a tango band trio. It was originally formed by the concertina, sorry – bandoneon, player Mirek Salmon in Bristol in 2016. Joining him was jazz pianist Daan Temmink, and the Cuban vocalist Indira Roman. And together the three of them produced a sparkling evening of music for a full room and an appreciative crowd.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts FestivalImage: Gail Foster

The Assembly Room in the Town Hall is a beautiful venue (and I may have banged on about this before) provided it’s used for the right performers. Tango Calor certainly fitted that bill. With the room laid out cabaret-style with tables and chairs, leaving a dance-floor at the front, and good sound and nicely-subdued lighting, the atmosphere was just right.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts FestivalImage: Gail Foster

We were treated over two sets, to a wide range of South American and Caribbean rhythms, some instrumental, and some accompanied by Indira’s infectious Spanish vocals. The songs were romantic, sensuous, melting like warm chocolate. I’d be the first to admit that tango is not at the top of my list of favourite musical styles, but even I was won over. I stayed right to the end, and the evening seemed to be over all too quickly. We even had a few brave couples getting up to dance, which was wonderful to watch. I’m no expert, but they certainly seemed to be making all the right moves in the right order. The warm applause after each number was often as much for the dancers as it was for the musicians.

Tango Calor at Devizes Arts Festival. Image: Gail Foster

The band received a justified all-clapping, all-singing encore, and then it was all over. Back into the Devizes evening with a warm glow of appreciation for a top-notch performance. Roll on the rest of the Festival!

The Devizes Arts Festival continues, with events every day, until Saturday 17th June. The full programme of events, times and prices is available online.

Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at


Has Swindon’s Liddington Hill Created Celtic Grunge?!

Explosive new EP from Liddington Hill released tomorrow, Edge of Insanity, begging the question, have they created a whole new subgenre?

As an impressionable Essex teenager coming from a hip hop background, thrust unwillingly into an eerie Wiltshire village like Sam Emerson in the Lost Boys, I endeavoured to align myself with the musical tastes of the natives. Yet, while I pre-gained a penchant for soft metal, the pop charts latest exploitation, I never envisioned lying semi-subconsciously under a fallen Christmas tree with a gang of crusty kids, while the needle stuck on the last notes of the Pouges’ Transmetropolitan, and everyone too drunk on Cinzano to change the record.

Fair to assume The Pouges belted me hard in the bum-fluffed chops, it would be unthinkably embarrassing to show affection for folk music, surely? But this, this was fast and furious, like the punk of a bygone childhood, and turned my preconceptions on its head. Now it’s commonplace, the Celtic punk of Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys are instant likes, but I’ve become immune to their ferociousness; the violent police response to break up parties, and mass of abandoned fires burning across a post-apocalyptic looking Glasto main stage after The Levellers spoke out about not letting the travellers in that year made sure of it.

Yet a want for angry music never extended to grunge by the time it arrived, though I now see it’s worth and power, I was a raver, and felt reggae was the only meaningful source left I’d consider; dance music was blithe and fantastical. So, as I’ve only ever been a window shopper of grunge, I confess dubiousness when Matthew of Liddington Hill emailed me, “it’s a bit grungier.” Not forgoing, it’s been two years since we featured them last, reviewing their debut EP Cow, and if I liked it, which I did, there was always a niggly its songs of traditional Irish shanty and tales of Swindon pub crawls lacked that archetypal anger commonly associated with Celtic punk; they’ve sure made up for that now.

New EP then, out tomorrow (2nd June) called Edge of Insanity, rips a new hole in the fabric of what’s acceptable and very possibly creates a subgenre, for Google searching “Celtic Grunge” doesn’t amass much more than separate Celtic punk and grunge offerings. The Swindon five-piece ask on their blog, “is Celtic grunge a thing yet?” It is now, well done you, because it works, take it from someone for whom grunge is not usually their cuppa.

With some band changes and maternity leave, Edge of Insanity goes much further up Liddington Hill. Peering down on themes of serial killers and the Aberfan disaster, it takes no prisoners itself, carelessly teetering on the edge, as it suggests on the tin. The Celtic riffs against grunge chords is a match made in heaven and a wonder no one thought of it before, bands like Ferocious Dog only meeting part of the way. It’s this blend staring us in the face which makes it for me, bending my grunge preconceptions of ‘yeah Nirvana was great, but I’m delving no deeper than the baby on the cover;’ I’m a Celtic folk hussy, add a slice of it and I’m yours!

Another winner is, beneath the dark and angry dispositions on offer, there’s historical gospel in the narrative. The opening tune In Rosie’s Room concerns a real mid-19th Century prostitute in gold rush America who tried to steal from a gold mine with her lover. With a hypnotic riff it rings how this EP is going to play out; indignantly dynamic and in your face.

Hold onto your hat though, as it’s about to get real screamy. Keep Hold of your Heart really is a furious thrashed punk expression from the perspective of an inmate in a Sanitorium. Illustrates my point though, usually my toes would curl at this intensity, but given this Celtic roots riff running through it, I can get aboard; it makes The Pouges sound like Brotherhood of Man!

The edge chills off, slightly, Capped in Black is the Aberfan themed song, possibly the ace of spades here, the balance of grunge and Celtic punk is refined and the anger within comes to a dramatic close leaving you aghast at the notion this disaster was allowed to have happened; the effect is achieved.

American serial killer Aileen Wuornos under Liddington Hill’s radar next, the track Maid Of Mayhem is perhaps my personal favourite, retrospectively punk with their new bassist Alannah on first person vocals and making a wonderful job of it, it’s akin to Siouxsie Sioux reworking Springsteen’s Nebraska, on fire!

The 1940s Lipstick Killer, William Heirens is next on the band’s unglorified hall of serial killer fame with the finale, Lipstick. The band explained, “Liam, for some reason became inspired after reading about a few serial killers and the reasons behind such terrible actions. So he wrote a few songs and we put some together with a couple of other heart-wrenching songs we’d written.” The grunge element seems to wane in favour of upfront punk rock, as we progress past Keep Hold of your Heart, and I’m grateful for this. Lipstick polishes this explosive caliginous EP off, suitably akin to The Stooges or even early Ramones, while retaining this Celtic folk riff credited to The Pouges, and for this, plus it’s astounding step up in expression and production, is a yes from me.

Free entry to the Vic in Swindon on Thursday 15th June for the EP’s launch party with support from Lucky Number Seven and Dark Prophecy. Find out more info about tomorrow’s release on Liddington Hill’s website, HERE and Facebook HERE.


Devizes Street Festival Day 2

Devizes Street Festival 2023 came to a glorious close in the Market Place yesterday with the unique and dynamic brass, keys and guitar combo,…

Devizes Street Festival; Day One

If I can, which I think is best after one too many visits to the Stealth bar, sum today in Devizes up in a…

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Nothing Rhymes With Orange have Butterflies

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Song of the Week: Canute’s Plastic Army

Swindon’s acoustic Celtic folk duo Canute’s Plastic Army played the Southgate in Devizes last Saturday; though firmly on my never-ending must-see-list, even just the…

Devizes Arts Festival Week One Preview: Indian Blues to Micro-Art

Set to be a busy month in town as The Devizes Arts Festival rolls out their extensive and promising programme, the best way I think to tackle this is week-by-week, highlighting some of those events which really shows off the diversity and quality on offer…..

No sooner than the month kicks off, so does the festival, in tango style, this Friday 2nd June.  

The Town Hall hosts one of the most exciting tango bands performing in the UK, Tango Calor.

Doubled-up on Saturday, as polar adventurer and motivational speaker Sue Stockdale presents A Life of Adventure, 1pm at St John’s Church, and versatile opera star Sir Willard White brings his Kymaera Duo to the Corn Exchange in the evening.

Sunday morning they walk the civil war battlefield of Roundway Down, but the fun, I think, really begins at 2pm in the Three Crowns when that most wonderful Americana combo, banjo and guitar, is played out by Texas Tick Fever, who promises some foot-stompin’ good ol’ hillbilly adaptations of known tunes. This is just one of two free fringe events on Sunday, the second at 7pm down in the Cellar Bar of The Bear Hotel; my personal pick of the week. 

We recently gave Ajay Srivastav one of our song of week features, as his music is a truly unique blend of the kind of acoustic we love from our own live music circuit, but as a British born artist of Indian heritage, his songs, with themes of protest and change, have this subtle Indian tinge, and it’s sublime. Don’t go expecting all-out Bhangra or the sitar plucking of Ravi Shankar, Ajay is decidedly blues and can be offbeat at times, working with legends such as Gregory Isaacs, Jah Wobble and Zakir Hussain. Ajay says of his style, “I just wanted to say my thing… I was tired of listening to other people talking – I want to be heard, and this is what I have to say. And I hope people understand where I’m coming from.”

Yet if from tango to opera and onto the unique blends of Ajay Srivastav displays Devizes Arts Festival’s diversity, Monday 5th at 8pm in the Town Hall is something completely different. The world’s most talented living micro-artist, Graham Short will be taking us on the journey of his “Life as a Micro-Artist.” Now this one really interests me, because as an art college dropout, if I ever was to become an artist I’d be the sort hanging naked from a swinging cradle splattering random paint onto a canvas! One assignment from my personal hell was a bearded lecturer who demanded I take a black and white photo and recreate it on a grid of one millimetre squares, painting each square with a grayscale of ten; a millimetre, I ask you, the dexterity of gods, not humans!

Well, cut a long story short, I considered the guy to be nuts, as he criticised the tiniest bit of bleed as “useless!” See, I can admire those colossal Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery for their sheer scale, and dive into their gorgeous clumps of oil so skillfully placed, but intricate detail simply baffles me, how the nimbleness of a micro-artist can create those miniatures with such calculation is beyond my fathoming. It is one reason when out of work I dare not apply at Cross Manufacturing, as I figured the fiddly attention to the tiniest of detail would be too much for my sausage-fingers! I mean Graham Short is the kind of fellow who engraves Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech on the tip of a World War II bullet, for crying out loud, that’s something to be in awe of.

Aged fifteen Graham Short left school in Birmingham without any qualifications, undergoing a six-year apprenticeship in copper plates and steel dies engraving for printing, but he didn’t take to the printing trade, so, years self-employed as an engraver gained him clients including Gieves & Hawkes of Savile Row, outfitters to the Royal Family; Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Sandringham,and 10 Downing Street followed. He engraved business cards for everyone from Richard Attenborough to Za Za Gabor. In recent additions to his blog he discusses aside the easiest metals to work on, gold, platinum and brass, his troubles engraving tablets for the Institute of Cancer Research, saying, “they are too soft and flake easily;” I couldn’t even begin to consider the complexities of such, still baffled by the expectancy of the bearded art college lecturer who expected me to paint millimetre squares, the blooming slave driver! 

Devizes Arts Festival has a diverse program of events, I rest my case. So, Tuesday, expect a humorous and moving one-man one-act play originally performed by Tom Conti at the Merchant Suite by Onarole Theatre, called Jesus, My Boy!

On Wednesday find classical Welsh, Polish and Belgian influences with the Aglica Trio at  the Assembly Room, and cello and guitar duo Clare Deniz and Mihael Majetic’s Dieci Corde at the Town Hall on Thursday 8th, with actor and singer, Lucy Stevens and pianist Elizabeth Marcus at the Assembly Room in the evening with Gertrude Lawrence: A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.

Weekday finale polishes off with British comedy writer, actor, presenter and performer Marcus Brigstocke at the Corn Exchange, eyes down at 8pm for this Radio 4 comedian, whose talent was noted early in 1996 when he won the BBC New Comedian Award at the Edinburgh Festival, and that’s enough to digest for one day; we will be back highlighting next week as soon as conceivably possible!

Tickets for all these and further Devizes Arts Festival events can be found HERE


Waiting for Godot @ The Mission Theatre

By Ian Diddams Images by Playing Up Theatre Company Samuel Beckett’s existential work is performed in the round this week in Bath’s Mission Theatre,…

Carmela’s Wonder Wheels Challenge

Cyclists of all abilities are invited to ride with our inspirational fundraiser, Carmela Chillery-Watson on their very own Wonder Wheels Cycling Challenge 100km around…

Devizes Street Festival Day 2

Devizes Street Festival 2023 came to a glorious close in the Market Place yesterday with the unique and dynamic brass, keys and guitar combo, Misha & His Merry Men, a collective of varying musicians on a theme of peace and love, which made for the perfect summary of the event as a whole; our waffle about the first day is HERE. 

With new DOCA coordinators Annabel and Ashley at the helm and the barrier set high by their predecessor Loz Samuals, there was no telling how this would go. Maybe there’s a few lessons learned by the new team, as this is no easy feat to pull off, but backed by the knowledgeable and ever-friendly volunteers I think they made an excellent team and carved a vision of how DOCA events will carry on the traditions set by previous coordinators, from Loz to Ian Hopkins, and of naturally, add their own stamp too.

It was an honour, even if last millisecond planned, to be on the stage to introduce the bands and see the mass of people flooding the Market Place with happy smiles and cheers; I’ve never done anything like this before and though like a rabbit in the spotlights, it gave me an insight into what it feels like for a band to be in front of a colossal crowd; nerve-wracking! So be it for me to say, the opening act on the main stage was also one Devizine had a hand in picking, with a want to introduce a local act amidst the national and international performers across this amazing street festival.

Now, you should note I’ve no intention of continuously getting all Royston Vasey on DOCA, for I fully support and love the fact that rather than hosting just local acts which can be seen on our pub and venue circuit, that they source these outside performers moreso. But I also feel room should be made to bring the crowds one thing specifically Devizes. So, I am hoping this will become an annual thing, when we can suggest a local act which we think has had a particularly good year, and present them on that main stage; not everyone there is able to attend our live music scene across the many pubs and venues.

The proof was in pudding; see the featured photographic evidence. With a fanbase predominantly teenage and unable to attend pubs so easily, the age demographic was so varied, the crowd had amassed to near full capacity. The fanbase stood at the front, the more curious further back, but just to wander through the crowds and see the same look of awe and admiration for a young local band on the pinnacle of greatness, was mind-blowingly epic. Nothing Rhymes With Orange smashed it out of the park, that being the Market Place, and to every surrounding village with an absolutely sublime performance to lodge a firm place in the history of Devizes Street Festival.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange at Devizes Street Festival. Image: Gail Foster

Gaps between bands on stage are so because you need to also focus your eyes on the various street theatre and circus acts happening all around, though slighter, it felt, this year, the quality of them was equal to previous years, and something about small acorns for the new coordinators to ponder through feedback. There will always be those few with a preference to hang around the bar and stage area, so perhaps some lower volume music could be added to entertain them while families explore the side-stalls and circus acts, or at least quarter-of-an-hour prior to the next band coming on, so the area in front of the stage can refill.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange at Devizes Street Festival. Image: Gail Foster

It is certainly how it seemed as crowds waned after NRWO’s spectacular set, regaining the momentum and their attention back to the stage was slighter, which was a tiddly shame, because I don’t know about you but Plymouth’s Cabarats were right up my street and knocking loudly at my door!

My favourite outside band bought in for our entertainment, by a long shot, The Cabarats were solid with the perfect balance of folk and reggae, so downtempo offbeat when building, and layers of uplifting folk once roused, it pushed my every button. If reviews are simply opinion-based, it’s my opinion they supplied the exact ingredients we want and need at the Street Festival, and did with gusto, zest and a unity of tightness musically which simply delighted.

And in a review, of kind, it is impossible to summarise every individual happening at such a special occasion, so I rest my case, I think it was slighter in content this year but only so to break the new DOCA team in gradually, but again, the whole shebang hinges on us bonding and helping out wherever we can, and the massive thanks has to go out to all individual organisations and volunteers which go into making this, annually, the best weekend in Devizes. Look, there’s a giant woman with a stage of devils and circus acrobats under her skirt where on any normal day you are just waiting for a bus with some hoody eating a Greggs sausage roll; what an utterly fantastic weekend, we love you DOCA!


Kyla Brox; Throw Away your Blues

By Ben Niamor  Long Street Blues Clubs’ offering for the coronation weekend.. Kyla Brox….. The bunting is still up for those keen to celebrate, personally…

Helen’s Poem on BBC Upload

A quick one from me today, offering our congratulations to our new writer, Helen Edwards from Devizes, who read out her poem “Motherhood,” on BBC…

Song of the Week: Snazzback

Wednesday, song of the week time, and it’s some smooth jazz from Bristol’s finest purveyors of looping rhythms and upside down chickens, Snazzback. Stokes Croft…

Devizes Town Council Welcomes New Councillor

Since the recent byelection for Devizes East, Guardian Vanessa Tanner was welcomed to The Town Council this month; Guardians of the Galaxy ensemble, or, maybe…

Devizes Street Festival; Day One

If I can, which I think is best after one too many visits to the Stealth bar, sum today in Devizes up in a word, the word would be “balanced.” Perfectly balanced….

DOCA smashed day one of the 2023 street festival, the sun shone and a brilliant day was had on the Green. We see our town turned into a festival of colour, circus, street theatre, music and dance annually and it never fails to impress and inspire, we’re accustomed to how great this event is. Today in particular, though, managed to pitch that perfect balance in supplying enough for everyone of all ages.

Myself, I bussed it in to find brass nutters Tuba Libres in their civvies busking in the Brittox, making for a grand teaser. The remaining wander to the Green buzzed with anticipation as Devizes was already bustling.

Enter the Green to see folk preparing to be Pac-Man while kids dressed as chaser ghosts and other dads were hit with sponge hammers purely for popping their heads from holes, and other curious video game related shenanigans, but in reality. If there is one thing to distract gamer kids from screens, this was it, and it worked, and it highlighted my point about the perfect balance as others gathered between the willows of a sustainable architectural stroke of genius to hear fantastic upbeat folk duo, Bonnie and Pete encapsulate the audience as Manchester-based Good Habits; they simply charmed and were so apt for chilling in the sanctuary.

With a witty finale folk-disco medley of Those Were the Days and I Will Survive, which worked a billion and one times better than it might sound, Good Habits habitually joined the crowds, while Sustainable Devizes took the mic for a environmental chat, and I sauntered around the site.

Behind us trapeze equipment was proudy erected, but rather than wait for the performance at the end of the day, was being used as a trapeze workshop where revellers queued to give it their best shot. Ten out of ten for interaction, obviously I’d have given it a go, but a food van operated with a virtual queue, and if the mobile device was to vibarate while I was up there my cheeseburger would’ve gone to waste; priorities, see?!

Tuck options aplenty, I confess to a rather splendid cake from the Devizes for Ukraine stall, who had a lovely selection of pastries and cakes you’re unlikely to have seen before.

Jealous because I forgot my sunhat, Welsh-queer mesh dancers plodded to ambient a soundscape, eerily building to a high energy folk dance, here presenting the wild card and receiving mixed verbal reviews from the crowd; certainly had impact.

I say wildcard, I mean, look, there’s a tricycle ridden around by a giant octopus, while its tabletop presents two aquabatic fish-dancers; this isn’t the usual day out in Devizes. But amidst the bizarre Lucid Acid’s Cat Sith was perhaps the most mesmerising, taking the pantomime horse to a whole new level. If it was a botheration to distract my eyes from the genius method of making this acrobatic puppetry appear genuinely feline, it was only to note the toddler next to me completely captivated by it, and my vision circled the crowd to note every person young and old watching in awe.

Miraculous changed into eighties keep fit attire The Tuba Libres blasted their brass at the Willow Sanctuary, and cockney sounding upbeat folk collective The Great Malarkey were as the name suggests, great with a two-tone twist, only to be followed by a spectacular display on the trapeze and now we await day two, which, by the time you read this it will be underway, in the Market Place this time; get your crocs!

Deadlight Dance: Innocent Beginnings

Marlborough’s darkwave-goth duo, Deadlight Dance push their boundaries to new limits with their second single, Innocent Beginnings this week, and it’s a corker of goth perilous poignancy…..

Echoes of Human League synth prowess rain from this sombre tune, with foreboding warning vocals of Joy Division, yet the theme is environmental, something though historically consistent in pop, generally, surprisingly overlooked by the alternative subgenre of post-punk gothic of the eighties. You’d have thought with the stereotypical gloomy disposition of the genre, climate change was a missed opportunity for electronica, and/or post-punk goth subject matter; though maybe you know different, I’m no expert.

While it has been done, eighties misconceptions of the subject often obscure the severity of the topic, and place them subtly irreverent by today’s standards. Best I can conjure from memory is The Pixies’ track Monkey Gone to Heaven, of which the context of pollution and the depleting ozone layer is missed amidst the screeching vocals of Black Francis, A Forest by the Cure, which always felt more Little Red Riding Hood than eco-warrior, Talking Heads’ (Nothing but) The Flowers which is all too satirical art-pop, experimentally awash with soukous, for some bizarre reason, and even to endure ten minutes of Giorio Moroder’s less-inspiring disco synth moment in Cerrone’s Supernature only to discover elements of environmental concerns conclude with humankind obliterated by some kind of “creature from below!” 

It makes this single of an interesting composition, sounding so retrospective; precision with environmental subject matter came much later than this track imitates, therefore musical trends had changed by the time it’s more astutely covered. Ethereal nineties and noughties alternative rock certainly made full use of the topic, from Mors Syphilitica to All About Eve, but Innocent Beginnings, as is Deadlight’s design, it seems, is to recreate the sound of alternative eighties, leaving you pondering if Joy Division were at their peak now, climate change would have been the theme of Atmosphere, and might have come out sounding akin to this. Not forgoing, environmental groups would clasp hold of it, rather than just the creators of Stranger Things!  

Though, having said all of the gloomy irreversible theme of Innocent Beginnings which basically suggests it’s all too late to do something about it now, the video is contradictorily recorded in the setting of the pretty village of Aldbourne; hardly the dystopian landscape of a post-apocalyptic earth wrecked by our own hand! And in turn, makes me come over all Greta Thunberg and contemplate at least if we try, we can say we tried; put that in your pipe and smoke it, Nick Fletcher and Tim Emery of Deadlight Dance! Damn good track though, guys, and produced by Nick Beere at Mooncalf Studios, we look forward to hearing more from these guys.


Carsick Pump It!

By Ben Niamor (with Devizine edits) This evening I’ve been reminded of a different feeling, something missing in recent years; noisy, energetic, bordering madness….. Youthful…

Devizes Gearing Up For Street Festival

Less than a month away now until the best day out in Devizes, our International Street Festival; who’s overexcited, who wants to know what’s happening…

Bournemouth Writing Festival 2023

A festival goer’s perspective Helen Edwards  A first. A first for Bournemouth and a first for me.  The event, brain (and heart) child of Ildiko…

The Vintage Bazaar is back in Devizes!

On Saturday 24th June from 9.00am to 2pm, its regular home The Corn Exchange in Devizes, Wiltshire will once again be filled to the brim…

Age of the Liar; The Burner Band

Okay, so it’s been a little over two years since I fondly reviewed the debut album, Signs & Wonders, from Leeds’ alt-country come Americana outfit,…

Nothing Rhymes With Orange have Butterflies

If Lidl Shoes, April’s blast from our aspiring homegrown four-piece indie-punkers, Nothing Rhymes With Orange certainty raised the rafters with energetic enthusiasm, I held subtle solicitude, despite the amusing name, it did only a smidgen to progress the band any further than their mind-blowing debut EP Midsummer. By contrast today’s new single, Butterflies, is a Neil Armstrong sized leap in the maturing direction they need to be heading to attain a mass appeal.

With an infatuation theme, the band express a continuation of narrative relating to Lidl Shoes, yet while maintaining their archetypal jab of youthfulness, Butterflies ventures into a pensive mood, it’s dreamier, swapping guitar distortion and resounding choruses for a softer emotional sound. Don’t run off with Coldplay connotations, it remains punchy enough to warrant influences they cite, like Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and The Wombats, and it lies equally as beguiling as their most celebrated tune to-date, Manipulation.

If the chorus of Manipulation is hailed back at them by fans, Butterflies is clearly in the making to evoke the same effect. It’s instantly loveable, their best work so far, proving as I said since day dot, Nothing Rhymes With Orange are going places.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange Image: Gail Foster

With this interesting development, I wonder how their predominantly teenage fanbase have responded to this, as they will mature in-line with the band, and should, in theory, relate. Idolised acts of teenage years always rely on this familiarity with the path their fanbase are personally on, and their songs become stories of their own life. Butterflies identifies definitively, calls out to them, it’s an anthem, I tell you!

Frontman guitarist Elijah Easton, drummer Lui Venables, guitarist Fin Anderson-Farquhar and bassist Sam Briggs have cracked it again, furthering a natural development in their sound, and in conglomeration have penned another standout masterpiece; you’d be a fool to yourself for failing to make it down to the mainstage of Devizes Street Festival on Sunday by 2:30pm, where we should join in celebration at the remarkable achievement this young Devizes-based band has made, amidst the selection of international acts on show.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange. Image: Gail Foster


Song of the Week: Ålesund

Back-tracking a week for this, as it was two great tunes came along simultaneously; like buses, in another county, don’t get me started on the…

Across the Water with Paul Lappin

Remotely possible he misses all the roundabouts, Paul Lappin came from Swindon, now resides in the South of France, yeah, across the water, which is…

King Alfred’s Tower Charity Abseil

This summer SOS Africa will host a 160ft charity abseil fundraising event from King Alfred’s Tower at Stourhead in celebration of the organisation’s 20th birthday! Taking place…

Thirty Years in the Dreadzone

Dreadzone, the Phoenix rising from the ashes of Big Audio Dynamite’s success, when drummer Greg Roberts and keyboardist Dan Donovan teamed with Julian Cope’s sound…

Song of the Week: Canute’s Plastic Army

Swindon’s acoustic Celtic folk duo Canute’s Plastic Army played the Southgate in Devizes last Saturday; though firmly on my never-ending must-see-list, even just the name alone is enticing, until cloning technology is readily affordable and can be found in Lidl next to the Portable Car Air Compressors and 30-in-1 Screwdriver Sets, I cannot be everywhere at the same time!

To rub salt into said wound, they’ve a new single out this week, Anglo Saxon Song, with the passionate vocals of Anish Harrison harking beautiful Celtic song and intricately subtle guitar work of Neil Mercer, here’s a taste of something different for you; timeless, enchanting, and hanging around Avebury at solstice type stuff, and it drips with authenticity and charm.

Their first EP, Building Walls, was released in summer 2017 on Secret Chord Records. Find some interesting previous singles on Bandcamp, for a quid a piece, and then you, like, me will be aiming not to miss them next time around!

Find them on Thursday 1st June with the Bellflowers at the Beehive, Swindon.


41 Fords are Not Dead Yet!

Damp morning, about 3:30am I’m descending Pelch Lane in Seend, like a sack of potatoes dropping. If you don’t know the track it’s a…

Frankisoul on Fire!

It got me reminiscing, the EP helping through washing-up the roast dinner plates this Sunday, Trowbridge-based Frankisoul’s newly released debut, On Fire. Ruminating my…

Gazette & Herald to Buy Out Devizine

In a deal I’ve been trying to clench for a year now, Newsquest, owners of Wiltshire based newspapers, including the Gazette & Herald have…

Wharf-ing Back To Happiness!

Do you remember the wonderful sounds of The Shadows and The Tornadoes beaming across the airwaves from Radio Caroline with their spellbinding instrumentals; Apache,…

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 24th-30th May 2023

OMG, OMG, another bank holiday weekend coming up, who’s excited, who’s coming out to play?! Here’s what we’ve found this week, find the info and links, and for planning ahead, here, on our event calendar. No prizes for guessing Editor’s Pick of the Week this week!

Obviously more stuff will be added to our event calendar as and when it comes to our attention, this is not comprehensive, so do check in later in the week, and let us know what we missed, we charge one cupcake to add an event, but it must be a chocolate one! 

Don’t forget to check out Hail the Curious, the debut exhibit at The Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham, running until 30th June. 

Wednesday 24th:

Regular acoustic jam at The Southgate in Devizes.

Skimpy & The Triniti Band at The Bell Inn, Bath, where Little Shop of Horrors runs until Saturday at The Rondo Theatre.

Emmanuel Sonubi’s Emancipated at Swindon Arts Centre, and Gretchen Peters at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

The Mead Community Primary School presents Forever Treasure Island at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

Pierre Novellie and Huge Davies, Comedy Previews at Pound Arts in Corsham.

Thursday 25th:

Shindig Festival opens its doors, have a great weekend to all at Shindig, you lucky lot; have a boogie for me!

Open Mic at Stallards in Trowbridge.

Lady Maisery at Pound Arts, Corsham.

The Soap Girls play The Vic in Swindon, I say, ding-dong! Reverend Ferriday is at The Tuppenny, Jen Brister’s The Optimist at Swindon Arts Centre, and it’s all soul at The Wyvern Theatre with the Luther show.

Octopus Dream Theatre presents I Love You, Mum, I Promise I Won’t Die at  The Merlin Theatre, Frome.

Friday 26th:

Lou Cox’s n o holds barred one-woman show, Having a Baby and the S**t They Don’t Tell You, at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes for Friday and Saturday; highly recommended from us, but not for the faint hearted!

Meanwhile, 12 Bars Later make a welcomed return to The Three Crowns, Devizes, with the incredible Mark Colton’s solo show at The Pelican.

John Watterson’s celebrated tribute to Jake Thackray, An Evening Without Jake Thackray comes to The Bouverie Hall in Pewsey. Billy & Louie at The Castle & Ball, Marlborough. 

Running until the 29th, it’s the opening of Chippenham Folk Festival, while the fantastic Triple JD Band plays The Old Road Tavern.

Find Castro at The Wheatsheaf, Calne.

The most amazing young soul singer I’ve heard for an era or four, Franki Soul is at Trowbridge Town Hall. While Fly Yeti Fly have a double-bill at The Pump with Alex Roberts and Graeme Ross.

The Karport Collective are the Seven Stars, Winsley, Bradford-on-Avon; fantastic these guys are. Dervish, legends of the Irish folk scene at Wiltshire Music Centre.

Break Cover are at Brown Street in Salisbury.

Tapped at the Theatre Royal, Bath, and The Lynne and McCartney Story Theatre Show at Chapel Arts.

We Were Promised Honey at Pound Arts, Corsham.

Here Come The Crows at The Vic in Swindon, while Rosie Jones’ Triple Threat is at Swindon Arts Centre, and The Roy Orbison Experience comes to The Wyvern Theatre.

Ultimate Coldplay at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and The Urban Voodoo Machine at The Tree House.

Saturday 27th:

You know it has to be Editor’s Pick of the Week, The Devizes International Street Festival is free, it’s the best weekend in Devizes, and it starts on the Green on Saturday and continues on the Sunday in the Market Place; see you there!

Street Festival after parties, then, find Jonah Hitchens Band at the Southgate, Devizes, Ben Borrill plays at The Moonrakers, and Gerry Jablonski Band plays at the Long Street Blues Club. The Snuff Box has an International Craft Beer Festival, and The Exchange hosts guest DJ, Castro.

Direct from the Pump, Fly Yeti Fly, Alex Roberts and Graeme Ross fly over to The Barge on HoneyStreet, while the Chaos Brothers are at The Lamb in Marlborough. 

Be Like Will & Band Of Pilgrims are at The Pump in Trowbridge.

End of Story at The Talbot, Calne, while Band-X play The Wheatsheaf.

A fundraiser for Swindon’s Ukrainian community at Swindon Hub, Rave Against The Regime at The Vic, The Black Hole Sons at the New Inn, Walk Right Back at The Wyvern Theatre, and Tom Davis’ Work in Progress at Swindon Arts Centre.

Ma Bessie and her Pigfoot Band at Chapel Arts, Bath, with You Are The Sun at Theatre Royal, running until 29th May, and A Shining Intimacy at The Egg.

Triple JD are at the Sun in Frome, the Cheese & Grain have Lindisfarne while The Burning Hell are at The Tree House.

Sunday 28th:

Devizes International Street Festival continues, in the Market Place this time, too much to mention here, but do look out for our homegrown upcoming talent Nothing Rhymes With Orange on the main stage at 2:30pm. 

The Barge, Honey-Street are Celebrating 50 years of Dark Side of the Moon with Atom Heart Floyd.

Jon Amor Trio at The New Inn, Bath, Jolie Blon at The Bell Inn.

Last Call at The Vic, Swindon.

Frome’s Spring Vegan Fair at the Cheese & Grain.

Monday 29th:

Bank holiday goodness then, arty kids will be pottery painting at Hilworth Park, find Kate and The Unpredictables at The Three Crowns, Devizes.

Swindon’s famous duck race, see poster below.

Mono at the Cheese & Grain, Tryani Collective at The Bell in Bath.

Tuesday 30th I got nought, unless you know better; always tell us if we’ve missed something! Mind you, I think that’s enough for one week, have a day off, stay home and make beans on toast; you can add a little chilli powder to fully clear your system if you so choose! Have a great weekend, stop me and give me grief if you spot me at the Street Festival, I don’t bite…..not on the nipple at any rate!


Song of the Week: Talk in Code

You can’t stay on the sunny side of the street; you’ve got to cross over at some point. But if the blurb I’m sent for…

Concrete Prairie at The Southgate

Without cloning technology it was another Saturday night dilemma still as easily solved; Concrete Prairie were at The Gate, arm twisted…. From The Barge to…

Song of the Week: Lewis McKale

Song of the week this week comes from Brighton’s singer-songwriter Lewis McKale, a Billy Bragg-ish harmonica and guitar combo breakup song from his forthcoming album,…

Female of the Species Announce 2023 Date!

For eight years on the trot, minus the lockdown year no one needs reminding of, local all-female supergroup, The Female of the Species have performed a one-off gig raising funds for various local charities; 2023 is no different as they announce this year’s will be on 21st October at Seend Community Hall….

It’s an amalgamation made in heaven. Five frontwomen of various local bands join in celebration, which is the sum of all their individual talent and a whole lot more. Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Claire Perry from Big Mamma’s Banned & The Misfitz, Charmaigne Andrews from Siren, and Julie Moreton from Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men make the line up, and if you’ve seen these any of these girls in action solo or with their own bands, you’ll know they’re all 100% dynamite; imagine this times five, forget the maths, the result is greater than 500%, an atomic detonation of wonderful!

I’ll see your examples of legends upstaging each other when on the same stage at the same time, as it’s fair to wonder how on earth something so right like Mike Jagger and David Bowie recording Dancing in the Street could’ve gone so utterly wrong, but raise you my assurance this is not the same ballpark here. The girls of Female of the Species work together in unison, back each other’s solos with such gusto, skill and friendship, it’s a sight to behold.

From Teen Talk to Young Melksham, and even once for Carmela’s Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy, Female of the Species must have raised tens of thousands of pounds by now, and received a civic award three years ago. Last year was a Halloween theme, this time the girls cover “the MTV years.” And will raise funds for Alzheimers Support.

I mean, yeah, it’s an assortment of sing-a-long covers, but with the adjoining of so much talent, it’s the unmissable cover show bursting with energy and fun you must see for yourself; the likes you only know if you know. Because of this ever growing need to know basis, it will sell out super fast, so….

Tickets are HERE.

The  Female of the Species throw absolutely everything they have at this annual event. With great support acts and on stage banter, it’s something to behold. Here at Devizine we congratulate and thank the girls and all involved in this annual event which has become as special on our local event calendar as Christmas day!


Danny, Champion of the Food Bank

Featured Image: Bob Naylor/WaterMarx Media While The Trussell Trust created the first food banks in 2000, under Tony Blair, usage of them rose by a…

Song of the Week: Lucky Number Seven

Bristol’s purveyors of emotive post-grunge verging on etherealwave, Lucky Number Seven get our song of the week today, for their latest burst of harrowing energy,…

The First Ever Devizes Pride Announced

If establishing Pride events in our cities and larger towns is sooo last decade, darling, we’re both keen and overjoyed to join the newer trend…

An Amazing Devizes Concert for Opendoors

All images used with permission of Gail Foster If of recent I’ve been critical about counterproductive steps taken to solve the rise in youth crime,…

Potterne, and its Festival

It’s one Devizine overlooked somewhat last year, arranged rather last minute, clashed with Full-Tone, but was still a 1,250-strong sell-out nonetheless. Potterne is not all…

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th-23rd May 2023

Hey you, had one of those weeks so far, and need to blow off some steam?! I know I have, but you don’t need me to get started on my problems, you need to hear about all the events happening this coming week in Wiltshire; here’s what we’ve found, but there’s always more to come, so info on these, links and further updates can be found on our Event Calendar.

It’s about this time when you really need to be looking over next month too and planning ahead. So much going on in June, from Pride to Devizes Arts Festival and, and, and, well, just have a sneaky peak HERE.

Ongoing: do check out Si Griffith’s new gallery The Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham. There’s an exhibit currently running until the end of June, and it is amazing; see the poster below, and review HERE.  

Wednesday 17th: the regular acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes. Also, a piano lunchtime recital from Helen Farrar at Pound Arts in Corsham.

The Tight Lipped Combo at The Bell Inn, Bath, and Tiff Stevenson’s Sexy Brain at the Rondo Theatre.

Opening at Swindon Arts Centre and running until 20th May the TinkCo Theatre Group presents Calendar Girls. And Kate Rusby is at the Cheese & Grain in Frome.

Thursday 18th: And The Drystones play The Pump in Trowbridge, with a Comedy Network night at the Civic.

Happy Place at the Rondo Theatre in Bath.

Ghosts of This Town play The Vic in Swindon, Somerset Velvet & James Turner at The Tuppenny, and Lulu’s For the Record is at The Wyvern Theatre.

Jon Royon is a Corsham based potter who took up pottery 5 years ago after taking classes at The Pound, and you can meet him at the Pound in Corsham, and it’s free. In the evening there’s a National Theatre live screening of David Harewood (Homeland) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) playing feuding political rivals in James Graham’s (Sherwood) multiple award-winning new drama, Best of Enemies, set in 1968 America, as two men fight to become the next president. This is also showing at the Merlin Theatre in Frome.

Friday 19th: The Reason, are at The Three Crowns in Devizes, and that is never a bad thing! Sarum’s Lot are at The Barge on Honey-Street.

There’s funky jazz and soul from the Shilts at the Civic in Trowbridge.

The Mark Harrison Band at The Rondo Theatre, Bath.

2 Sick Monkeys headline The Vic in Swindon, with Borrowed Time, The Liabilities and Room 10, while The Music of Meatloaf can be found at The Wyvern Theatre with Hits Out of Hell.

George Egg’s Set Menu at Pound Arts, Corsham. The South play the Cheese & Grain in Frome, with A Band Called Malice at The Tree House.

Saturday 20th: Find a 75-minute chaotic journey through the minds of two dudes; Jack & Jordan at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, Lazy Dog Comedy comes to Devizes Con Club, and some edgy folk from Caute’s Plastic Army at the Southgate.

The Travis Waltons at Heartwork at The Pump, Trowbridge, the wonderful Strange Folk play Stallards, and Marty’s Fake Family at the Wiltshire Yeoman.

The Hi Fi’s at Melksham Rock ‘n’ Roll Club, Triple JD Band at The Constitutional Club in Chippenham.

Homer at The Baker’s Arms, Swindon, The Roughcut Rebels at the Swiss Chalet, Faux Fighters at The Vic, Tim Vine’s Breeep! at The Wyvern Theatre.

The Archive of Dread at Rondo Theatre, Bath, with Blurt at The Bell Inn, and Ricky Cool and the In Crowd at Chapel Arts.

Mara Simpson at Pound Arts, Corsham.

But I’m seriously thinking of crossing the border for our Editor’s Pick of the Week, Big Country playing the Cheese & Grain, with Spear of Destiny in support, amazeballs! Meanwhile Muse tribute Muze plays the Tree House.

Sunday 21st: you can find the Madhatter’s Wedding Fayre at Devizes Corn Exchange from 11am-3pm. From 5pm in Devizes, find the Eddie Martin Trio at the Southgate.

Jaywalkers at The Bell Inn, Bath.

All for the kids at Swindon Arts Centre with Grooving with Pirates, and Pop Princesses at The Wyvern Theatre.

Illyria presents Robin Hood in an open air performance at the Merlin Theatre, Frome.

Monday 22nd:

Pasha Finn & The Ellipsis at The Bell Inn, Bath, and Monday also kicks off SparkFest at the Mission Theatre, running until 27th May, there’s lots going on there.

Tuesday 23rd:

War of The Worlds at Swindon Arts Centre, Li’l Jim at The Bell Inn in Bath, and an Exhibition on screen at Pound Arts in Corsham, called Tokyo Stories. 

And that’s all folks. Big weekend next time, bank holiday again, and Devizes Street Festival with so much other great stuff going on it’s going to take me until next week to type it all out here! Have a good one, big love, Darren.


Song of the Week: Sara Vian

Normally Wednesday, Song of The Week, but I was having one of those Wednesday days, you know the sort, too middley aren’t they, bit gloomy?…

Song of the Week: Deadlight Dance

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of the Week time…. I’m just amazed with myself that I’ve actually committed to this new regular feature for a…

The Four Sopranos. Devizes Town Hall, Friday 12th May 2023

By Ian Diddams. Images By Gail of Devizes

Friday night saw the launch of an entirely new musical experience from good old Devizes Town… “The Four Sopranos”….

Attendees at the full house in the Town Hall may well have been familiar with those in the quartet already… Jemma Brown, Terésa Isaacson, Lucia Pupilli and Tabitha Cox. Yet whilst they certainly have historical and ongoing connections with “The Invitation Theatre Company” and “The Fulltone Orchestra”, nonetheless “The Four Sopranos” are a separate entity in their own right; four friends coming together to perform something presented a little differently for audiences to enjoy. As Lucia says, “We have worked on the harmonies collaboratively, we didn’t want to just take them off the shelf and let people hear what they might have heard before, it’s been a fantastic way of working, but is also hard work – but it means our sound is absolutely ours”. And I can confirm it absolutely is.

Doing what their name says on the tin, “The Four Sopranos” were exactly that… four talented and musically excellent sopranos, delivering a widespread program of harmonic song, from opera, stage, film and popular music, sung in harmony – as per the above!

So what of the show? The foursome started with a couple of crowd favourites – two numbers from “Les Mis”; “I dreamed a Dream” and “Stars”. It is true there were some nerves showing – but understandably. A new venture, a new idea, a new approach… but with these two songs under their belt a noticeable lifting of confidence, a collective “what’s going on – let’s get over it” so to speak was evident. And the rest of the show delivered with verve, panache and oozed with the talent before us.

The Musical Theatre genre continued with “Somewhere over the rainbow” and “You’ll never Walk alone”. Followed by a change into a more classical and operatic tone with solos and duets, Terésa with Gounod’s arrangement of Ave Maria, Lucia – a fluent Italian speaker in her own right – with O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini. And “Sull’aria” by Mozart performed by Lucia and Tabitha plus Delibe’s “Flower duet”. Our quartet finished off a whirlwind first half with numbers from “Phantom of the Opera” and “My Fair Lady”.

Photo by Gail of Devizes

The second half followed in similar vein… I won’t bore you any further with lists of songs performed and if you want to find out what they were you’d best get to one of their gigs! I will add that Tabitha and Jemma also performed solos – with “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman” and “She Used to be Mine” from “Waitress” respectively. Other than those two, needless to say it was just more high class, perfectly delivered songs from film and musical theatre including the breath-taking four voice rendition of Adele’s “Skyfall”.

It would be remiss of me to not say that the evening’s performance was accompanied by the hugely talented pianist (and all-round musical virtuoso!) Dominic Irving, whose ivory tinkling was sublime in itself. And making a rare appearance for him of facing the audience rather than with his back to them, Anthony Brown charmed as the evening’s ringmaster.

So there we had it – a whistle-stop tour of music from multiple genres, in a beautiful building, created uniquely by four maestros of their art. What more do you want? Well, for a start… chances to see more of them that’s what!

You can catch all four next Friday night as it is, in Cheltenham Town Hall, including reprising “Skyfall” and “Somewhere over the rainbow” – amongst many other wonderful pieces of music including the phenomenal choral piece “Symphonic Adiemus” by Karl Jenkins; see the link at the bottom for tickets… and keep an eye on the Facebook page for “The Four Sopranos” for more dates and news in the future of course.

From tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow… or words to that effect. And on Friday evening we saw one such acorn planted….

Photo by Gail of Devizes

Links: Tickets for Cheltenham Town Hall – Friday 19th May 2023
“The Four Sopranos” Facebook
Dominic Irving


Devil’s Doorbell Live EP from the Pump

It’s any wonder if this bonkers jazz skiffle duo found a double-entendre in the name of Trowbridge’s finest live music venue, The Pump, when they…

Petrichor; New Album by The Lost Trades

If asked to summarise the themes of songs by The Lost Trades with a song, I believe I’d pick the classic Americana folk song “Keep…

Song of the Week: Atari Pilot

It’s Wednesday night, it’s Song of Week time….and here’s your host…. yeah, sorry, it’s just me, couldn’t afford Stephen Mulhern. Haven’t heard from them for…

Trouble at the Vic, Ant Trouble….

Something of a family reunion at Swindon’s Vic last night, then, if as Adam Ant chanted, we are the family, the dandy highwayman so sick…

Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 10th-16th May 2023

Okay, the king’s bank holiday is over, put your bunting away it’s turning into soggy mush now! Onwards to what’s happening across Wiltshire this coming week…..

As usual, find info and links on our event calendar HERE. But do check in on the calendar throughout the week as updates will be added when they come in, and are not included here. It’s the conflict between getting this out there as early as possible for tickets to ticketed events, and balancing this with the smaller venues who will sporadically put up a social media post on Thursday night! So, it’s not comprehensive, just a guide, check a check on the calendar. 

Ongoing, lucky you if you have a ticket for the Railway Children at the Wharf Theatre, which is nearly sold out, and running until Saturday. We reviewed it here.

Also find a review HERE for Hail the Curious alternative art exhibit at the newly opened Forbidden Carnival in Chippenham, go see this!

Wednesday 10th, and there’s the usual Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

Anu Vaidyanthan’s BC:AD – (before children, after diapers) at the Rondo Theatre, Bath. Hang Massive at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Broken Robot Production Presents Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Magical Bones at Swindon Arts Centre, and Tony Blackburn brings his Sound of the Sixties to The Wyvern Theatre.

Thursday 11th Spare Snare with Ravetank at The Pump in Trowbridge.

Mark Simmons’ Quip off the Mark at Rondo Theatre, Bath.

Modern Evils & Cosmic Ninja at The Vic in Swindon, Good Habits at the Tuppeny, with Johannes Radebe’s Freedom Unleased at The Wyvern Theatre.

Friday 12th sees The Four Sopranos at Devizes Town Hall, and The Unpredictables at the Condado Lounge. SynthCity plays the Bear in Marlborough.

Bath Festival starts Friday, running until 21st May, lots to see and do there. Rock the Tots are at the Rondo Theatre with some One Hit Wonders. 

ZZ Topped at The Vic in Swindon, Suzie Ruffell at Swindon Arts Centre.

Gary Davis BBC Sounds of the Eighties at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 13th is the annual Stert Country House car boot sale near Devizes, for Cancer Research. Rock Hoppaz at The Three Crowns, Devizes that evening, The Duskers at The Southgate, Ben Borrill is at the Moonrakers, and Slade tribute Sladest at the Cavalier for a Devizes Scooter Club night. 

Static Moves play The Barge on Honey-Street, Trash Panda at The Lamb, Marlborough, @59 play the Bear.

Scott Doonican’s Bar-Stewards Sons of Val Doonican is at The Pump, Trowbridge; long since sold out I’m afraid; you’ve got to keep scrolling through our event calendar, and be quick!

Dilton Marsh Scarecrow Trail continues Sunday too!

The Green Man Festival in Bradford-on-Avon, free, see poster below.

Simon Munnery’s Trials & Tribulations is at Rondo Theatre, Bath

Alasdair Beckett-King at Swindon Arts Centre.

XSLF at the Tree House in Frome, Eric Bibb at The Cheese & Grain.

Sunday 14th sees Avebury Artisans Market, and a Wellbeing Nature Day at West Lavington, and Jack Grace Band is at the Southgate, Devizes from 5pm.

Monday 15th I have nought, nada, let me know if something crops up!

Tuesday 16th is Poetika 111, The Great Outdoors at The Winchester Gate in Salisbury, 

Anton De Beke & Friends at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon, and the Pretenders, yes, I said The Pretenders, at the Cheese & Grain; wowzers, every town needs a cheese and some grain, don’t they?!

Looking forward for needy speedy timely ticket takers, Thursday sees folk dance fusion at the Pump with The Drystones, and Lulu come to Swindon, Jack & Jordan’s Sketch Show at the Wharf in Devizes on Saturday 20th, and Lazy Dog comedy comes to the Devizes Cons Club, Big Country at The Cheese & Grain. So much more going on, all you gotta do is keep scrolling, and have a great week.  

Oh, and of course, there’s this…… whoa Nellie!


Song of the Week: Ajay Srivastav

New one on me, Bracknell-based Graham Steel Music Company being my gateway to this astounding London rootsy acoustic soloist, and I’m impressed. With the subtle…

Swan Dies in Road Accident at The Crammer

A swan from the Crammer hit on the road between Morrison’s roundabout and the traffic lights this morning, has died…. In territorial disputes, the wildfowl…

Song of the Week: Sienna Wileman

Okay, I admit it, our Song of the Day feature was too optimistic, and failing every day to post a tune meant it fell by…

Kyla Brox; Throw Away your Blues

By Ben Niamor 

Long Street Blues Clubs’ offering for the coronation weekend.. Kyla Brox…..

The bunting is still up for those keen to celebrate, personally I was looking forward to this gig as the crowning moment in my Saturday, and I was not disappointed!

Opening up proceedings the ever-excellent and irrepressible Tom Harris. Tom has ‘Written hundreds of songs and released none,’ he quips before launching into a great set with lots of original songs.

Three Word Slogans, my personal favourite, a genius political anthem.  Should be released digitally come local election time, such is this song’s genius. 

An observational rhyme on the hollow meaningless billboard contradictions of the (I agree with him!) broken political system… 

Classic blues material frankly but delivered in Tom’s moderately manic and good humoured manner. With a disclaimer that it wasn’t necessarily aimed at conservatives..! (Editor’s note, you are in the Conservative Club, after all!) A local gem you are only likely to enjoy by getting out to pubs and venues like this. 

Kyla Brox,  the main event, I wanted to see this lady for a good while; friends had advised me this was an essential gig for me.

I’ve had the album Pain and Glory for some time, and my anticipation of what that record would indicate with regard to a live experience was not wrong.

Kyla attests her incredible voice and total embodiment of soulful blues to singing in her father’s band from twelve years of age;

no surprise, you don’t just learn to embody soulful blues to this standard, it seems to me like that would require those musically enriched genes and history.

Proudly sharing a little of her family and musical history in passing on stage, you realise very quickly this phenomenal voice has been nurtured over a lifetime, not forced and it shows in the stunning, natural way she sings from the heart. 

I feel like I am a little late to the party here, my first time seeing this band live, a good few old friends in tonight by the looks.

Hats off too, to her sensational band, painting the scene for the stars’ vocals.

Superb musicians all.

An outstanding gig, I was enthralled from start to finish, ‘ Queen of the UK blues scene’ as I’ve read elsewhere, not an overused moniker for a coronation day gig, a reflection of the musicianship on display.

Absolutely bowled over and will be making sure to see her again. 

Thank you to Long Street Blues Club for continuing to bring the best bands from across the blues scene to Devizes.

John Watterson Keeps The Music of Jake Thackray Alive, in Pewsey

Chansonnier Yorkshireman Jake Thackray is paid tribute in Pewsey’s Bouverie Hall on May 26th by fellow Yorkshireman John Watterson, aka “Fake Thackray……”

An adopted YorkshiremanJohn Watterson, grew up on the Isle of Man, which is where he first met Jake Thackray in 1975. Recalling the performance at his local folk club, which John explains, “had the audience in stitches,” chatted with a very modest and self-deprecating Jake at the interval, describing him as “a big man and a huge talent, clearly embarrassed by the standing ovation, Jake preferred to have a pint at the bar with the punters and didn’t really see what the fuss was about.”

Influenced by the likes of Jaques Brel and Georges Brassens, Thackray wrote and performed unique folk songs recognisably rooted in the English countryside, at times painfully funny, yet often sad, tragic, rude, irreverent, and incisive, and all these things at the same time. His performances in folk clubs led to appearances on The Frost Report, Braden’s Week and That’s Life. In nearly thirty years of performing he made over 1,000 radio and TV appearances ranging from a topical song in magazine programmes to broadcasts of live concerts on both radio and television. His EMI catalogue produced seven albums between 1967 and 1991.

On learning of Jake’s passing in 2002, John decided that the songs were too good not to be kept alive, so he set about learning more of them. Performing them at a memorial evening in Monmouth, and John is currently researching and writing a biography on Jake with the help of members of the Thackray family. This is where tribute act really takes on a favoured notion of true homage, his appreciation and love of Jake Thackray’s music reflects in this show he has toured with Fairport Convention nation-wide tour, and has performed twenty shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. He has also been delighted to support Ralph McTell, Richard Digance, Vin Garbutt and many more of his music heroes.

Tickets are £12.50, and include a light supper in the interval. Available from Around the World, Woottons and the newsagent in Pewsey (cash only please) Or call 07876 230 540.


On The Wayside with Viduals

Akin to Ghostbuster’s nemesis Slimer when he appears over the hotdog stand, I was squatting a spacious windowsill at Wiltshire Music Centre with an Evie’s…

Old Wharf Café to Become Meeting Room

The Kennet & Avon Trust today revealed plans to convert the old café on Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, into a meeting facility; how exciting! It…

Delicate, Like A Psychedelicat

What is a psychedelicat, a tin of magic mushroom flavoured Felix?! His picture on the tin certainly displays some suspiciously dilated pupils, but this exaggeration…

Song of the Week: Snazzback

Wednesday, song of the week time, and it’s some smooth jazz from Bristol’s finest purveyors of looping rhythms and upside down chickens, Snazzback. Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic is from the forthcoming album Ruins Everything, and it gorgeously trickles over halfway, building layers until the evocative vocals of Tlk meld to complete the effect. So incredibly cool I’m horizontal!


The Bradford Roots Music Festival Returns

I know, it’s hardly festival weather, but this one is all inside! Inside the glorious Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon that is, on Saturday 21st…

Full-Tone Festival Announce 2023 Line-up

The Full-Tone Orchestra have released details of the 2023 line-up for their annual extravaganza, The Full-Tone Festival on Devizes Green, August bank holiday. It’s all…

Boots & Braces Ready For Devizes Scooter Rally 2023?

Long overdue is our annual poking our nose into Devizes Scooter Club, see what peaky blinders they’re pulling off, including of course, the Devizes Scooter Rally 2023; because no matter what the people say, this sound leads the way…..

While I’d half-heartedly shrug at critics giving it scooter rallies can be a niche market, retrospective lager-fuelled skinheads admiring each other’s hairdryers in an overgrown field while some northern soul DJ spins his 7” rare grooves, this is where Devizes Scooter Rally differs from the status quo. Of course, appeasing the diehards who will trek vast land to amass at such events is crucial, but on its third year, Devizes Scooter Rally never feels insular, rather it’s the genuine article, affordable fun and welcomes curious townsfolk and those who may only have a passing interest in the scene. That’s its beauty, and long shall it be so.

You only have to check the interest when the club ride the carnival parade looking dapper in suits and braces, to note this is more than a retrospective cult; the merger of youth cultures of yore, the mod, the soul boys and skinheads and all inbetween is something impossible for those caught up in to let go off, simply because it’s irresistibly beguiling, and fun. To relish in soul and reggae of yesteryear is valid, as all mainstream pop since relies so heavily on its influence. 

So, we’re talking the weekend of 28th-30th of July, when the club invites all to gather at Lower Park Farm, just off the dual carriageway on Whistley Road, where scooters will be on show, and will ride out no doubt, but that’s not all. Activities for the children will be added, with food stalls and of course, the bar! And all raising funds for such a wonderful organisation, The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, our most fantastic pre-school for children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Expect legendary Northern Soul DJ Terry Hendrick of the Soul Pressure sound system to be spinning tunes between bands, and the bands are, a reunited, I believe, Killertones, the perfect ska outfit of Cath and Gouldy from Sound Affects and the Day Breakers, who are stalwarts on the local scooter scene. Those trusty Roughcut Rebels, who never fail to bring the party with them, as is their era-spanning repertoire of anything from swinging sixties to Britpop.

The other locally-based act is perhaps the wildcard; Trowbridge’s 41 Fords play with all the vigour of ska, but are decidedly more rockabilly with a dash of scrumpy & western folk. We fondly reviewed their debut album Not Dead Yet, last month. Here’s a shining example of what I mean about the congenial and welcoming mesh of subgenres you’ll find at Devizes Scooter Rally, see, rude boy? There were no mockers in eras past, they’d have been fighting each other! Thus the scenes merge and it’s a one love happy aura for everyone to enjoy as, which is ironically the entire ethos of reggae and soul in the first damn place!

And reggae I’m certain you’ll find there, of the boss variety of yore, predominantly, and of course it’s predecessor ska, which though saw a second generation influx through Two-Tone in the eighties, thrives today on the scene. Now, if you know me, you’ll know I’m something of an aficionado of this, and seen many a great ska band; Orange Street, named after the location of Duke Reid’s legendary Kingston studio, Studio One, are one of the tightest ska bands I’ve witnessed, blowing my socks off at the inaugural Devizes Scooter Rally in 2019; having them return is the icing on this cake.

Going in blind for the last two in the line-up, first, Sharp Class, with a corporate identity akin to The Jam causing me to ill-conceive it would be an old bunch of mods knocking out Jam and Merton Parkas covers. Rather this young, fresh-faced London-based trio have a sharp image, hence the name, and original songs grounded in realism and spattered with an English essence. Merging punk and soul into power-pop and Britpop, they claim. They’ve recently released a debut album “Tales of the Teenage Mind,” and are set to tour Boston this month, but you can say you saw them in Devizes!

And the Butterfly Collective, Southampton based ska, soul and mod covers and originals five-piece, heavily influenced by The Who and the Mod/Rock fraternity including Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, Kinks, Small Faces and The Hiwatts. They have become a renowned band within the Scooter and music scenes across the U.K. Being The Devizes Scooter Club tend to evaluate their lineup based on past experience touring other rallies, I’m assured we’re in good hands, and this weekend will deliver a damn fine spectrum of entertainment to get you snapping your braces and skanking up the Whistley Road!

Now, if you’re thinking where the catch might be, it’s only your two-tone trouser suit, with a weekend wristband at just thirty notes and cheaper day options, you’ve got to hand it to Devizes Scooter Club for maximum dedication to making this jumping jiving rally affordable and irresistible.

Prior to skanking up Whistley Road, the club’s base at The Cavalier in Devizes sees Slade tribute Sladest on May 13th, and following the rally, Bristol’s big boss sound of Ya Freshness and the erm, aptly titled Big Boss Band will make their Devizes debut on Saturday September 9th. Self-styled rude boy Ya Freshness has worked with two-tone’s best, from the likes of Neville Staple, and made groundbreaking original work with Bristol’s retrospective reggae greats through his label Strictly Rockers. If you recall my radio show on Boot Boy Radio, those shout-outs were by this absolute legend.

Then, on 28th October it’s the mandatory skalloween night at the Cavy, with ska band Skamageddon, and the club see of 2023 with a NYE party. Though as I said, there’s a welcoming atmosphere for those with a passing interest, local scooter enthusiasts should contact the club for ride-outs, social get-togethers and beanos to other rallies and clubs are organised. So get up on your feet, put your braces together and boots on your feet, and give me some of that old moonstomping!   


Ten Top Tips for Driving in Devizes

Having trouble driving in Devizes? We’re not surprised, it’s got the infrastructure designed by a six-year-old given some Lego road plates. There are rules, on…