Plastic Free Devizes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday – Saturday, 18-20 November

2021 DEVIZES EISTEDDFOD

Music, Speech & Drama Classes

Devizes Town Hall

*

Saturday, 4 December 2021 at 7pm

2021 FESTIVAL CONCERT

Devizes Town Hall

Admission Free – Retiring collection

*

Sunday, 30 January 2022 at 3pm

CLASS WINNERS CONCERT

Devizes Town Hall

Admission Free – Retiring collection

*

Saturday/Sunday, 5/6 February 2022

2022 EISTEDDFOD DANCE FESTIVAL

Lavington School

Admission £5 (students £2) per day

(Dance Entries open 25 October 2021)

*

Saturday 19 March 2022 at 7.30pm

SHOWCASE CONCERT

Bishops Cannings Church

Admission Free – Retiring Collection

in aid of the church

*

Saturday 9 July 2022 at 7.30pm

SHOWCASE CONCERT

Seend Church

Admission Free – Retiring Collection

in aid of the church


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

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

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

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

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

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

Lorna Davies

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

Concrete Prairie

Info and Tickets Here


Win 2 Free Tickets HERE!

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Ravilious’s Downland Man- Immersive Watercolours and Captivating History on Show at Wiltshire Museum

by T.B.D Rose

Stemming from an unfinished book of Eric Ravilious’s illustrations (including that of Westbury White Horse) which resurfaced in 2012 and which museum director David Dawson collected for Wiltshire Museum, the Eric Ravilious: Downland Man exhibition has been put together by guest curator James Russell (creator of a previous Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2015) and tells the story of the fascinating man’s life and his iconic portraits of English landscapes.

With 9 years in the works and 4 years active planning, it has already attracted around 700 pre-booked visitors from all over the country.

Featuring loans from a number of National Museums, it’s a marvelous and recognisable sight to see for any southwesterner, with Ravilious’s signature realistically vivid, painstakingly gorgeous watercolours of countryside and landmarks right on the doorstep of Devizes locals.

See it while you can. The Exhibit runs from 25th September – 30th January 2022. In memory of Eric Ravilious (1903 – 1942).


The Next Wharf Theatre Production Will Be Glorious!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


WIN 2 Tickets HERE

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We Care Bear Selfie Sculpture

“We want to be there for every seriously ill child that needs us,” say Julia’s House, “but to care for families in your community, we need your support. As part of our Together We Care Appeal, we’re creating a giant bear sculpture and aiming to cover it with the faces of everyone who cares about seriously ill children in Wiltshire – that’s YOU!

Join them in The Brittox, Devizes, this Friday 24th, Salisbury Market Place on Saturday 25th, or Chippenham High Street on Sunday 26th.

Have your photo taken at their selfie tent, and your photo will be added to the We Care Bear. Once created, the bear will tour different towns across the county before going on permanent display at their hospice in Devizes, so the families they look after will be reminded of your support whenever they arrive at the hospice.

Can’t make that date? Alternatively, you can submit your selfie online, just visit https://www.juliashousebear.org/upload

When can I see the finished bear? Julia’s House will announce the dates soon for when you can see your photo on the finished Julia’s House We Care Bear. Sign up for an email newsletter to get your paws on the latest bear action: https://www.juliashouse.org/enews


Don’t forget our wonderful compilation album, download it here, all proceeds go to Julia’s House
Win 2 free Tickets Here!

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REVIEW: Strakers’ Devizes Comedy – Corn Exchange – Friday 17th September 2021

You’ve Got To Laugh

by Andy Fawthrop

It really feels as if the old times are back with the very welcome return of Strakers’ Comedy Night at the Corn Exchange.  A fairly packed audience of about 200, with long early queues at the bar, settled down for something we all needed – a great night of laugh-out-loud comedy.  It did initially have the feel of a massed estate agents’ night out and bonding session, but once we finally got under way, all of that was forgotten.

First up was Kane Brown who wasted no time in warming to his first couple of themes – a black man in a very white town, and the obvious need to take the piss out of the sponsor of tonight’s event.  Kane was quick-fire, calm, relaxed and made an immediate bond with his audience.  It could be argued that he was scoring into an empty net, such was the crowd’s desire to have a good laugh after such a long lay-off, but in fact it was much better than that.  Kane had a very nice line in nostalgia themes – salted crisps, the choke on cars, old TV technology – and his slot seemed to slip by in no time.  Very assured, very funny and an obvious hit with the crowd.

Next up came Rod Woodward, veteran of the corporate comedy circuit, TV, Royal Variety show etc.  Rod played the “I’m very Welsh” card early, followed it with low-level machine-gunning of the Strakers (a theme was developing here) and rounded out with routines on Ryanair, and the dangers of going clothes shopping with a married partner. Another great performance, also hilarious, and a great way to end the first half.

Following the half-time scrums at the bar, and the queues for the loos, the second half offered up a couple more comics.  First of these was Ali Cook, another very experienced performer in terms of TV work, Edinburgh Festival and the corporate circuit. Ali combined his comedic patter with a number of sleight-of-hand magic tricks, effortlessly pulling victims (sorry – “assistants”) out of the crowd to help him on stage.  Routines involved card-tricks, apparently eating goldfish, and smashing an i-Phone to pieces.  Another clear hit with the crowd.

Last on stage was the wild-looking, long-haired Canadian Craig Campbell.  Here was a real force of nature from the get-go.  Having just done a none-too-easy gig for UK troops quarantined after recently returning from Afghanistan, Craig had a lot to say on the subject.  At first this really took the audience with him, but then he appeared to lose a good few people with his crude, shouty, expletive-ridden rants about not very much in particular.  He managed to pull them round with a very good story about the Dutch and the Danes, but then went off into another blizzard of shouting. A few people around me were making their excuses and leaving at this point, but other sections of the audience found him very funny. He lost me towards the end I’m afraid.  I don’t mind bad language well-used, but Craig seemed to rely on the f-word almost completely to get his laughs, a thin cover for fairly sparse material.  So, something of a Marmite type of performer.

Still – to badly paraphrase a certain rock legend – three out of four ain’t bad.  Overall a great night, lots of laughs, and a very welcome extra step to getting our lives back again.  Thanks to Strakers for putting the show on – great stuff!


Win 2 Tickets HERE!

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Unique exhibition to open at Wiltshire Museum

Featured Image: The Westbury White Horse © Towner Eastbourne

Finally opening at Wiltshire Museum on 25 September 2021 is Eric Ravilious: Downland Man, something we previewed on Devizine in October 2019, but, sadly, lockdown prevented.

This major exhibition explores for the first time the celebrated artist’s lifelong fascination for the chalk hills of southern England, particularly Wiltshire and Sussex.

The exhibition will feature more than 20 works borrowed from national collections and private collectors, including iconic watercolours such as The Westbury Horse and The Wilmington Giant, alongside other rarely-seen works.  The exhibition is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.  Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.

Central to the exhibition are several of Ravilious’s best-loved watercolours of chalk figures made in 1939 in preparation for a children’s book, Downland Man.  The book was never completed, and for many years the prototype or ‘dummy’ made by Ravilious was believed lost.  When it resurfaced in 2012 this precious item was bought at auction by Wiltshire Museum.  It will be included in the exhibition alongside some of the artist’s watercolours, aerial photographs, annotated Ordnance Survey maps, postcards and books that relate to the Ravilious works on show – material drawn largely from Wiltshire Museum’s own collection.

The exhibition will offer a new view of Eric Ravilious (1903-42) as a chronicler of the landscape he knew better than any other.  From his student days until the last year of his life, Ravilious returned again and again to the Downs, inspired particularly by the relationship between landscape and people.  Watercolours and wood engravings included in the exhibition show dew ponds and farmyards, a cement works and a field roller, modern military fortifications and ancient monuments. 

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man is curated by James Russell, previously curator of the 2015 blockbuster Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery. He said ‘I studied History at Cambridge and I’m always intrigued by the social and cultural context of artists’ work.  When it comes to downland history and archaeology Wiltshire Museum has an unrivalled collection, making this exhibition a unique opportunity to shed new light on Ravilious – an artist who is well-known these days but still little understood. With watercolours such as ‘Chalk Paths’ and ‘The Vale of the White Horse’ on display, visitors are in for a treat.

Heather Ault, Exhibitions Officer said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for Wiltshire Museum to exhibit such beautiful works by Ravilious.  The exhibition will be an absolute delight’.

Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the Weston Loan Programme has been able to support the display of these important works by Eric Ravilious in Wiltshire – an area of the country which repeatedly inspired this much-loved artist. The exhibition will bring his evocative landscapes to new audiences and shed light on material little-known by the public.”

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man opens at Wiltshire Museum on Saturday 25 September and closes on 30 January 2022.  Tickets can be pre-booked online at https://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/prebooktickets/.

The exhibition ends on 30 January 2022.


win 2 tickets here

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Real Cheesemakers go Head-to-Head with Professor Elemental in Chippenham

So, you’re planning to go out-out, the decision rests on music or a night of comedy. An unnecessary dilemma, no need for a crystal ball, tarot cards or Paul the psychic octopus, you can do both in the land of chips n ham. In fact, if you happen to own a psychic octopus, this will be right up your street.

I’ve been waffling on the subject of comical music of recent, reviewing release from Monkey Bizzle, Death of Guitar Pop, Mr B, and Scott Lavene, but here’s an evening not to be missed for your dancing shoes and funny bone alike.

Professor Elemental

Lord of whimsy himself, Brighton’s steampunk chap-hop artist Professor Elemental, who’s been in a friendly feud with the very same Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, goes head-to-head with Calne’s nonsensical Real Cheesemakers, and the ref will be Chippenham’s own legend and Edinburgh Festival favourite Wil Hodgson in a night not to be missed or dissed.

The Real Cheesemakers

One randomly selected lyric of Professor Elemental might whet your appetite, “this one’s for the crusty festivals and shows, where a fan tries to hug me and I get a dreadlock up my nose,” and honey, he’s got rhymes you haven’t heard yet. Expect hilarity at the Old Town Tavern on 16th October, demand trousers, horses and dinosaurs, tickets are eight quid, a brown one on the door. Facebook yo bad self, tell ’em you want in.


Win 2 free Tickets HERE

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Sheer Music to Host Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls UK Tour at Bath Forum

Featured Image by Clair McAllister

Little doubt Frank Turner is the top of his game, the prolific indie-rocker’s ninth studio album, “FTHC” is highly anticipated….

The previously released lead single, “The Gathering” only gives a small insight into the new direction of the record. Though Frank is not only able to feature guest appearances from Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Biffy Clyro and more, the supporting tour allows him to cherry-pick venues and promoters.

Frank will be doing a unique tour playing all thirty-nine English historic counties, plus nine districts of Scotland, eight counties in Wales, six in N. Ireland and a further eight counties in Ireland. The ambition is to reach all of his fans with his new record and play where most artists will not go.

Sheer Music is the obvious choice for the west country, and promoter, Kieran J Moore is delighted to have been asked. Frank has chosen The Forum in Bath for his Somerset date, which will be Friday 18th February 2022.

The beautiful art-deco Forum gave Frank one of his last shows from his previous album tour, just prior to lockdown. The venue remains a firm favourite with artists and fans alike. It will be Sheer’s first show at the historic venue, Mr Moore says, “it’s an opportunity we’re truly honoured and excited about being given!”

Image: Clair McAllister

Given the nature of the show and the current climate, (it’s as if no one was allowed out for a year or more!) tickets will be snatched quickly, so a heads up for Turner fans, that tickets will be available in the following structure;

Album Pre Order for Pre-Sale: Tuesday, 21 September @ 5PM BST

Album Order Pre-Sale: Wednesday, 22 September @ 12PM BST – Friday, 24 September @ 12PM BST

Promoter Pre-Sale: Thursday, 23 September @ 12PM BST

General On Sale: Friday, 24 September @ 12PM BST


WIN 2 TICKETS HERE

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Gull Able

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

Some Reasons Why I Enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar at The Wharf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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King of the One-Liners; Gary Delaney Coming to Devizes- Win Two Tickets Here!

What time did the man go to the dentist?

Tooth hurt-y….

Okay, I’ll get my coat. Leave it to the professionals, one of whom announced this morning, Devizes is on his hitlist. Husband of comedy supremo Sarah Millican, and king of the one-liners, Gary Delaney delivers his hilarious tour, “Gary in Punderland,” to our honoured little town on Thursday 5th May 2022, appearing at the Corn Exchange……

The double Sony Award Winner and Chortle Award nominee is a regular on Mock The Week. Gary is the only comic ever to have got two gags in the same top 10 for Dave’s TV Funniest Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe, and his current tour took in over 200 venues; we’re so glad to hear he’s heading our way. After selling out his Andover show, and in the absence of a Swindon show, it was decided that Devizes offered the best central location, and easiest access in Wiltshire to attract his fans. Devizions love a bit of joking about, look at the councillors we elected….ba boom!!

If you’re hunting for snark, Gary’s got it covered! Not one to get too bogged down in serious stuff, like political and social observations, he leaves that to other comedians. Gary Delaney is known for his machinegun rapid, quick fire one liners, which take you away from your daily lives for the evening, something I’d imagine we all could do with. He loves each and every gag, and you can’t help but be carried away by his infectious charm. He’s like a cheeky schoolboy who can barely hide his glee with each and every punchline.

Courtesy of Sheer Music, we’ve been holding onto this news for a while, aching to tell you, honest! So, if you’re ready to dive into a rabbit hole of the best jokes in the world, star of Live at the Apollo and sell-out sensation Gary Delaney is your man.

WIN A COUPLE OF TICKETS!!

But to help you prepare, and you know, to celebrate this fantastic news, I want you to think up your best one liner, the very crème de la crème of your wit, and either send it to us using the box below, or commenting on the Facebook share of this article. Facebook users, ensure you’ve liked our page, invited your friends to like it too, and shared the post; I will be checking!

Also, ensure you have commented on the official Devizine Facebook page’s post, and not those shared to other groups and pages, I cannot trace them all, hunting for your joke, no matter how bad it might be; for that’s a joke in itself!

Closing Date for this competition: 4th October 2021. You must be over 18 to enter the competition.

Meanwhile I’m going to arrange for a score of top comedy judges to decide on the best one, (which will more than likely be my daughter and I, or if we can, Gary Delaney might help!) and they will WIN TWO FREE TICKETS! Note, this event is strictly 16+, and wheelchair access and seats are available.

Otherwise, tickets are set at £20, and available from SeeTickets and TicketSource online.



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A Gallery of Rogues: Devizes Musical Theatre is Back!

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

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

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

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

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


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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…..

Devizes Street Festival; Black Rat Monday Lives on….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Daybreakers @ The Southgate: OMG, a Live Music Review!

Shock, horror OMG and other unsuitable internet abbreviations, yes it happened. Like mutated survivors emerging from their underground lair in some post-apocalyptic movie, to snuffle fresh air once again, tonight could’ve been any other night two years ago, but with renewed captivation I sat in a beer garden, an actual beer garden, with a real … Continue reading “The Daybreakers @ The Southgate: OMG, a Live Music Review!”

Tribute Acts Going the Extra Mile; Blondie & Ska

One surprise track contributed for our forthcoming compilation album for Julia’s House, (yes, it’s going sluggish but well, thanks for asking!) comes from Chippenham’s part-Blondie-tribute-part-ska-covers duo, Blondie & Ska. It’s a solid, rock steady original, with the added bonus it sounds as if it could’ve been an album track from Parallel Lines, Plastic Letters or … Continue reading “Tribute Acts Going the Extra Mile; Blondie & Ska”

IndieDay is Back in Devizes

With a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross, the non-profit organisation Devizes Retailers & Independents announce a second IndieDay in Devizes on Saturday 5th June. With an aim to spread the word about all the excellent independent retail shops and small businesses in Devizes, last year’s event was well received and enjoyed, at … Continue reading “IndieDay is Back in Devizes”

Thirty Years a Raver; Part 1: Planet Rock & Tooth Extractions!

New short series of articles exploring rave culture thirty years on, from a personal perspective…. In the early eighties my nan and grandad stood at the head of the hall, preparing from requests they adlib a speech for their surprise anniversary party. My grandad did the standard honours, thanking everyone for coming, excusing any clumsiness … Continue reading “Thirty Years a Raver; Part 1: Planet Rock & Tooth Extractions!”

The Lost Promises of Sam Bishop

Five years on from Devizes six-form boy band 98 Reasons, we find vocalist and keyboardist Sam Bishop studying music in Winchester, while former Larkin partner Finely Trusler continues working with cousin Harvey as The Truzzy Boys and has become fresh new frontman for local mod heroes, The Roughcut Rebels. Last week we were able get … Continue reading “The Lost Promises of Sam Bishop”

What’s Happening in September?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good September!


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Is Devizes Ready for The Full-Tone Festival?!

Amidst the controversial decision by Emily Eavis to headline Jay-Z at Glastonbury Festival in 2008, in which included Noel Gallagher throwing his toys from his pram, while UK press went on a bender about an imagined ethos of exactly what Glasto is, and what it should be presenting, I read an American article hitting back with the headline “is Glastonbury big enough for Jay Z?”

One has to ponder if the author who penned such piffle in retaliation had ever seen Glastonbury, let alone been, and had any inkling what it means to so many people. On this basis I thought of, but then rejected, this headline to be “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra?!”

Organiser and better half of the composer, Jemma Brown tells me the capacity of the Green is 3,000 but next weekend’s (28th-29th August) event is restricted to half, “so everyone feels safe.” But, it’s not a question of “is Devizes big enough for the Full-Tone Orchestra,” rather our fortunate premise, the Full-Tone Orchestra is now a part of Devizes, no less than the brewery or canal. They’ve ventured to other local towns, Marlborough College, Swindon’s Wyvern, to present their eclectic genre orchestra, but Devizes is home sweet home, and 95% of shows have been based here.

Here’s the biting point, and something I’ve come to understand better, staging such an event like this is not pocket money. Yes, Full-Tone successfully crowdfunded to put on a free show in the Market Place in 2019, but this is not an avenue any event organiser can slog and expect to come up trumps each time.

For an entertainment package as stupendous as Full-Tone to be in our humble dwelling, it needs and deserves our support, and while a majority will tell you so on the street, ears to the ground unearth some rather inexcusable and inappropriate notions. Firstly, you cannot expect anyone to provide you a free show annually, just because they did once before, and secondly, it’s an “erm,” to the idea Full-Tone is some kind of commercial enterprise gaining only to profit. “It’s just not why we’re doing it,” Jemma pledges, “we’re doing it to bring an orchestra into the centre of Devizes and for the love of all things music!”

At this conjunction, just one weekend away from the show, you have to ask yourself, would the same level of display as 2019’s Market Place not become tiresomely samey after a while? Full-Tone wish to expand on the experience, to progress and make it better. “The sound and lighting will be fabulous and to do that we have to pay good dollar!” Jemma tells me, and to do such, ticket sales is the only option.

Phew, glad I got that off my chest! Can we all be friends again? Anyone putting on any event right now needs our backing and deserves a medal, in my honest opinion. Anyone organising an event must worry it’s either going to go two ways, overloaded with a cabin-fevered raging mob or fail to impress enough to drag apprehensive troops out from their lockdown shelters, as if the hospitality industry isn’t it in enough deep water. My chat with Jemma today went onto me mentioning a time I was juggling the attention of three gigs in Devizes in one night; a time we took live music for granted, and looking back now, well, you go figure.

Least we can be sure, unlike Emily Eavis and her longing to update her father’s institution, Noel Gallagher won’t be on a wobbler because an upcoming US hip hop star is upstaging him! 28th-29th August sees the sixty-piece Full-Tone Orchestra present a very local affair, not only their all-encompassing themes, from big band and film scores to euphoric dance anthems, but Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits on Sunday.

It’s been some years since I sat in Rowde School after school hours. No, not like a kid in detention, rather to see the orchestra rehearsing the Star Wars theme. I believe Jemma was encouraging me to direct my satirical rant column from Index;Wiltshire, No Surprises Living in Devizes to more positive pastures, which kind of went totally against the concept of the column. But it was running fast out of ammo, because, underneath it all, Devizes is a great town and I love living here.

Hence, Devizine was born, a sort of counter-strike against all the negativity I once brushed Devizes with. So, if you want to blame someone, Jemma is also an accessory! The icing on that cake will be a Devizes rendezvous on the Green; hope to see you there!

Tickets Here.


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