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

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

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

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

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

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

Swindon Railway Band at the Town Gardens, Old Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erin Bardwell

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

Dave Young. Image: Graham Bradfield

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

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

Tickets:

Early Bird (18+) – £15

Adult Ticket (18+) – £20

Concession Ticket (10-17 years) – £12

Child Ticket (Under 10 years old) – Free

Family Ticket – two adults and two concessions – £50

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


Congratulations to the Award-Winning British Lion

Generally, the hospitality industry is cutthroat and fast paced, a constant competition to keep up with trends and modern consumer behaviour. While Devizes is like any other town, with pubs and restaurants striving to be the next big thing, that culture is subtle at the best of times, most folk of our bustling but quaint Wiltshire market town crave precisely  the opposite. Let’s be honest with ourselves here, we think its ‘nice’ when something new crops up, but secretly we don’t fully embrace change and modernisation, rather we favour tradition and dependability; that’s what gives Devizes its simplicity and charm.

One such mainstay is the freehouse, the British Lion, shortened to “the British,” to locals. It’s never changed as long as I’ve known it and been here. It focuses on an ‘if it isn’t broken it doesn’t need fixing” ethos, breathing tradtion through its rafters. The British Lion is a fixed institution, a pub of reliability; what you see is what you get, and you know full well what to expect. The landlord, Mike has run it since the dawn of civilisation, the efficiency, ambince and philosophy remains as it always was. And that’s why we congratulate it today, for having been awarded a Golden award as part of CAMRA (Campaign  for Real Ale) Official 50th anniversary celebrations. Well done to Mike and the team at the British, and throughly well deserved.

CAMRA awards director explained, “winners were chosen for their successes in standing the test of time; for being characterful and community-focused, and for consistently pouring great pints. I applaud these pubs for their dedication, for being community stalwarts and campaigning heroes.”

One of only three pubs in the entire South West region to win the award, the British Lion’s key feature, other than it’s steeping tradition and splendid and spacious beer garden, is it’s dedication to bringing its punters a wide selection of beverages, often unavailable elsewhere in town, and supportive of smaller brewers.

To walk into the British and suddenly find its changed into a neon, glitzy wine bar would be utterly unbelievable to locals, who’ve relied on this mainstay in our pub culture for so long, and everyone has an amusing story to tell about a particular night, or other, in this fine establishment where nothing is over-complicated, or striving to keep up with the Jones’s. And, might I say, through “black rat monday,” to many fond memories in there myself, long may it live on!


Spend August Bank Holiday at Manton-Fest!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

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

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


Trending……

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

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

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

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



JULY

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Estimated running time: 1hr 10 mins, no interval

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

See above (Friday July 16th)


Monday July 19th: The Farm Cookery School

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Need to know

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

Tues 20th

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


Thurs 22nd

Friday July 23rd: King Arthur at Sherston Village Hall

See above (Friday July 16th)

Saturday July 24th: Bromham Teddy Bear Trail

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


Sun 25th


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


Monday July 26th: PH Camps begin


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


Tuesday July 27th: Devizes Tennis Club Holiday Camp

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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


Friday July 30th: King Arthur at The Corsham Almshouse

See above (Friday July 16th)


Saturday 31st July: MFor 2021 @ Lydiard Park

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


The Great Poppy Party @ The Crown, Bishops Cannings


August

Sun 1st


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


Sat 7th

Sun 8th


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


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


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

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


Writing & Performance Workshop by Chippenham Museum

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

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

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

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


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


Fri 13th

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

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


Sun 15th

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


Monday August 16th: RW Football School Melksham


Tuesday August 17th


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


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


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

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


Saturday August 21st: Live at Lydiard 2021

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


Sun 22nd


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


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


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


Wednesday 25th August: Simple Scrapbooking at Chippenham Museum

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

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


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

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


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

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


Fri 27th

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

The highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green.


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

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

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

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


Mon 30th

Tues 31st

September:

Wed 1st

Thurs 2nd

Fri 3rd

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

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


Saturday 4th September: Horrible Histories Live @ Bath Forum

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

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

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

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

BOOK HERE.


Sun 5th




Trending….

Gull Able

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

Carmela Wins WellChild Award

First thing I’ve got to do this week is to congratulate Carmela Chillery-Watson, our seven-year-old local heroine, for being chosen by WellChild, the national charity for sick children as their inspirational child in her age category. The celebration finale came last week, with a ceremony in which Harry Duke of Sussex presented her the award, amidst a star-studded audience.

I couldn’t agree more with WellChild’s excellent choice, being personally inspired by Carmela. It’s been a little less than two years ago when Carmela’s mum Lucy sent a fundraising poster for me to share on Devizine, and after talking to her about her daughter’s rare form of muscular dystrophy I thought, you know what, I could do more than this to help. And yes, it ended in a warm August morning, delivering milk, as is my “real” job, dressed in my Spiderman onesie!

Lucy had suggested Carmela prefers Wonder Woman as a superhero, but the practicalities, not forgoing the visual impact of me in blue star-studded hot pants might be pushing it too far! So, Carmela joined me for a short stint, to deliver the bottles, dressed as Wonder Woman, and we raised approximately £1,500 for some specialist equipment to make her life somewhat easier.

The apt association with Wonder Woman stuck for Carmela, who’s various fundraising efforts caught the attention of Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot last year, and she kindly donated over £3,000. Inspired by the superhero, Carmela took on 300km in 30 days dressed as her hero, but it really did take it out of her with. There were days spent in pain and suffering with vertigo sickness, due to her spine curvatures and strain on her weak muscles.

A similar gauntlet is laid this year, the aim being a united 1,500 miles, the total it takes from Wiltshire to where they filmed Wonder Woman in Southern Italy. Commencing on the 1st September, the family hope to do it with the help of teams, raising money towards the medical research, in hope of giving effected children hope of a future or even just a treatment to slow the progression down. More information here.

And progress on a cure, or at least slowing the process down has recently had a breakthrough. INews Science & Environment Correspondent, Tom Bawden reported; “a cure for muscular dystrophy is on the horizon after gene editing experiments in mice completely eradicated the disease. Although far more research is needed to test the technique in humans the researchers are hopeful the process could one day be used in the NHS,” just last week.

Therefore, it’s been long overdue to catch up with the Chillery-Watson family, to congratulate them for the award, find out if the breakthrough treatment applies to Carmela’s rare strain of the disease, but mostly, to get the gossip on the celebrities she’s been meeting, making her something of a celeb now herself!

Click here to buy the book!

“I don’t think I ever met a celebrity until Carmela came along,” Lucy replied to my verbal probing about the renowned faces I see her pictured with. I suggested pictures posted on Carmela’s Facebook Page with Harry, she seemed to have her husband Darren pushed aside while displaying a flirty-face in his presence! “I’ve always got a flirty-face on!” she laughed, “we’ve met Harry once before, and he really is a great guy to chat to. He’s been patron of this sick child’s charity since 2007. He’s very passionate about it, I think because he gets it from his mum. Carmela was telling him her rude jokes!” she giggled.

I pointed out that Carmela has got so used to being in the spotlight. “She’s so blasé about it!” Lucy said, “it’s my fault because we wanted to get awareness out there, and it’s helped her confidence. She has gone through stages of low self-esteem, particularly now as she comes to terms with what her limitations are. So doing things like this makes her feel a little bit important. It boosts her self-esteem.”

Amanda Holden was one of Carmela’s chosen celebs to have turned up. “What a great chick she is,” Lucy responded, “so, so, one of us; she doesn’t mince her words, and made us feel at ease.” One I do know, Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood was there, she told me, but another was one my age made me ask my daughter for her identity, revealed to be pop star Anne-Marie, who sang live at the ceremony. Lucy praised her voice, but moved onto Ed Sheeran, claiming he was shy.

“Throughout lockdown,” we moved onto, “she did loads because she had to. With muscular dystrophy you can’t sit down all the time, because you get joint contractions, you get tight muscles and it’s irreversible, you have to keep that balance, and that’s very difficult.”

The gene therapy advances I wanted to mention. “The one we’re hopeful with is LCMD Research Foundation.” A family in the USA with the same condition to Carmela, but more severe. “They found some researchers in Spain willing to take on the gene therapy project specific for Carmela’s type, if they raise two million,” Lucy explained, stating they’ve already raised half in just six months. Lucy was unsure what strain the INews Science & Environment Correspondent reported on was specifically for, “but is also promising news.”

Somewhere in the conversation I doubted she would even remember me, the mere mortal milkman, now she’s rubbing shoulders with all these icons and celebs. But in the perfect finale to our chinwag, Carmela broke her bedtime procedure to disrupt the sombre and mature themes we were discussing, and bounded in to say hello. I confess, this part melted my heart, it’s been so long through lockdown since I’ve seen her, and was delighted to note, she knew me and remembered our shared work-shift almost two years ago.

Cheekily, I asked Carmela if she had a favourite celeb she met, and she confirmed they were Anne-Marie and Amanda Holden; mine too! Amanda in particular, I pointed out, being I had to inquire to who Anne-Marie was, truth be told. Intent on keeping me on my pegging, Carmela asked me, “have you heard Anne-Marie’s voice….” of which I was intending to reply a yes; now I have, when she added, “but, in real life?!” To which I can only confess she had this one over on me!  

“Well,” Carmela added, “you could always come to the WellChild as our guest.” Lucy laughed; she’s invited a number of guests already. Well, every celeb needs their entourage.

But I did finish on my surprise she recalled me, being she’d met all these “important people, when all I’ve been doing is putting milk bottles down.” Carmela replied, while dancing, “it’s very important for you to put the milk bottles down.” And it’s responses like that which makes her such a special person, and her zest for life is truly inspiring for all ages; the very motive, I might plug, for me to channel efforts into this compilation album for Julia’s House, who I might add, provide support to Carmela with regular home visits.

You can listen to, and buy the album here, thanks.


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

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

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

Image by Nick Padmore

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

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

Update: check the board, not the Facebook!

All Images used with kind permission of Nick Padmore


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

Blue Sky Festival Returns to Corsham’s Pound Arts

Blue Sky Festival returns to Corsham’s Pound Arts this July. The thriving arts centre will be filled with music, dance, film, family entertainment and workshops, plus outdoor theatre. There really is something for everyone, including Claymation model-making workshops with Aardman Animations, music from upcoming Americana soulstress Lady Nade, and the breath-taking folky ambiance of Emily Barker, and comedy from Lucy Porter, who you’ll know from Live At The Apollo, Would I Lie To You and QI.

Lady Nade

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

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

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

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

Lucy Porter

OUT NOW!

OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

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

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

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

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

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

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

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

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


Click for info on Julia’s House

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

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

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

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


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

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

https://mrloveandjustice.com/the-homepage


23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

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

https://barmypark.bandcamp.com/


24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

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


25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

Daydream Runaways

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


26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

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


27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

Longcoats

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


28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

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


29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

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


30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

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


31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

Image by Justin Smythe

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


32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

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


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

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

 


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


Boot Hills Take The Barge

If there’s one business to be in during this period of paced easing of lockdown, it must be the marquee business, it’s another for pubs to adequately comprehend what to put inside them. Establishments erect a tent and furnish it with tables so punters can eat and drink alfresco, and some might have an acoustic singer compliment it, but supplying entertainment to suit a crowd eager to get social lives up and running again is the tricky part.

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

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

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

Glamping in the bell tents at The Barge

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

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

Junksville Geetar!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Breakout to Chippenham’s Alternative Art Show

The flags of Israel and Palestine halved with a swish and a white dove stencilled over the top, was the starting point for a painting by Chippenham artist, Mike Long. We discussed his method, almost making it up as he went along, the original idea extends outwards as he progresses with a painting, rather like his unique tendency to continue the painting over the actual frame. Underneath the flags, a scene of a football game, with goalposts painted on tanks, in Mike’s sketchy Chagall style; this element developed while painting it.

We’re at Chippenham’s Yelde Hall in the Market Place, Mike’s turn on the rota to hold the fort. The alternative art show, Breakout is running for another week, until Saturday 3rd July. Open everyday except Sunday from 10am to 4pm, I call it “an art show” to break the preconceptions of words like “gallery” or “exhibit,” because here’s a display which finds an even ground between an often seen as tedious fine art gallery of standard landscapes or portraits, and the outright “arty” kind of off-putting “weird.” For this concept, it’s the sort of exhibit to appease anyone with only a passing interest in art; a contemporary pop art show.

Unlike two years past, when, teamed with two other artists, Si Griffiths and Emma Sally, they put on Never Mind The Heritage, Here’s Our Art Show, in the same venue, the three are joined by five other locally-based artists, each taking a panel, making for variety and a fuller experience. It’s a dazzling show, well worth paying a visit.

To start at the beginning, an artist I know only too well, Devizes-based Clifton Powell, takes the first panel. Recently commissioned to paint Abbot Hadrian for an English Heritage exhibition, The African Diaspora in England, in Canterbury, closer to home Clifton shows a few works from his ongoing “Unrest” series. They’re striking images, poignantly painted with realism, and take the subject of modern civil turbulence.

Works from the other artists exhibiting here are new to me. Jimmer Willmott, a pop surrealist from Bristol takes the next panel, describes his work as a “chaotic love affair of the cute and weird, running naked hand-in-hand with a bright, fun blend of humour and juxtaposition.” Indeed, words found in some excellently crafted Alphabetti Spaghetti, or American cops with donuts for heads in a more colourful vein than René Magritte’s The Son of Man, fits the bill.

Meanwhile, photographer Daniel Carmichael takes inspiration from patterns in small objects and the effects of time and the elements upon them. With a keen eye for a snap, autumn leaves covering a discarded men at work road sign, for example, captures a mood of manufactured versus nature.

 

Next is Mike Long’s varied styles, of expressionism, often Lowry-like scenes or steampunk imaginings which extends into the frame, involving it and creating the notion the subject continues after the confines of the image you’re looking at, these are ingenious works in which you’ll spot something different in each time you look at them. Also, I was surprised to see some graphical pieces too.

With environmental, often sombre themes, the ever-expressive Emma Sally is up next, she states her artwork this year has arisen from “feelings of frustration,” aptly.  A new direction, she says, “in articulating visceral emotions,” and the solemnity of a graveyard with woman dressed in black gazing at headstone is poignantly effective. Others are more sardonically abstract, the Earth ripped apart, rolled into sausage-shapes and knotted back together again being particularly adroit and stirring.

Mixed-media artist Helen Osborne Swan, creates a series of striking papier-mâché 3D masks, “open to the beholder’s interpretation,” but started with the Colston statue being toppled and daubed with paint. “There is a lot more behind the face we present to the world,” is a notion which could take us back to Clifton’s Unrest series, there’s a murky conception in these inventive faces protruding from the canvas at you, some obvious, but others, like the “too cool for skool” one of a younger with baseball cap and shades, you’re left uncertain as to the reason for their underhandedness.

Whereas Montague Tott leaves nothing to the imagination, trained as an illustrator “having to follow other people’s artistic direction,” given the freedom to express himself through his own work was “too great a temptation to ignore,” so he embarked on a more esoteric path. Inspired by classic oil paintings, Montague adds elements of horror movies, comics and popular culture into what would otherwise be a classic portrait. One of whom I suspect as silent-film actress Mabel Normand, painted with a child Freddy Kruger is particularly disconcerting, yet equally are the family portraits of half-man-half goat characters, as if trapped in a mansion of a fantasy novel.

And last up is the amazing, highly-skilled underground comix style of Si Griffiths, with his penchant for putting clowns or Frankenstein’s monster into unusual and inexplicable settings. Comically disturbing at times, in psychedelic visions or thriller movie surroundings, they bring an awkward smile.

If lockdown for the solitude profession of an artist hasn’t been so impacting on ability to work, it’s certainly had an impression on their subjects, but more so, producing a painting is only half the job; getting them out there is crucial financially. Do check this exhibit out if you can, it has Covid regulations in place, and is an airy hall. Importantly though, I feel here’s an art show you don’t need to be well-versed in art or an “arty sort” to enjoy and be entertained by. Neither will take up your entire day to browse, but with its less-is-more policy, there’s a varied bunch of alternative art on show, of which the standard is outstanding.


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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…..

Wiltshire’s Solstice Troubles, Again!

Have you seen this, at the Euros? When in defence of a freekick they have a guy lying on the ground behind the wall like a human draft excluder. That’d be me, about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, finally a position I could play. Imagine the scenario; I’d be like “where do you want me to be?” The captain’s response would be, “tell you what, why don’t you take a load off, and lie down there on the grass, take as long as you need!”

The crowds thinking; that guy came to the wrong event, he wants to be at the solstice celebrations, maxin’-relaxin’, awaiting sunrise…. now there’s a confliction; while Wembley play host to 60,000 foreign media and dignitaries, exempt from quarantine, Wiltshire bans access to its world-famous Neolithic monument for significant less thousands of revellers whose only wish is to see in the solstice in a manner done centuries prior to the notion a bunch of lads kicking a pig’s bladder around a park might be fun.

Last year was understandable, and well reported, solstice at the henge would be via live stream only. Hardly the same, but adhered too. This year it looked set to go ahead, and was poorly publicised that it had been pulled last minute due to the pushing back of our Clown Minister’s so-called, “Freedom Day.”

Take a deep breath, refrain from calling it “Freedom Day,” please. Freedom Day in the USA remembers the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, rather than being able to drunkenly hug your best mate down the pub. The only thing slightly comparable to it would be the day this government, intent on regurgitating and condoning the traditional hypocrisies and philosophies of prejudices, collapses, and a freer society which adopts the tenet live and let others live, replaces it.

A prime example this weekend, in my honest opinion, and here’s why; constraining a populace’s desire to celebrate a religious rite whilst allowing lucrative sporting events is nothing less than cultural appropriation. Far from Pope Gregory I’s era, who banged out a letter to Saxon Bishop of London, Mellitus, legitimately approving the reformatting of pagan cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianised form, (hence bunnies and chocolate eggs presented to mark Jesus’s crucifixion, and Santa Claus jingling bells on his birthday) but be certain, it’s the same ballpark; Interpretatio Christiana lite.

As I sift through social media commentary and local news reports, I find nothing but support and positive stories from those who either attended Solstice at our county’s heritage sites, or tried to, couped only by downright insolence from authorities to accept its importance to so many people, and made concentrated efforts to prevent it.

In this pandemic era, restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus is logical, we’ve had over a year to come to terms and implement these. Social distancing, basic hygiene, and the wearing of facemasks when in close proximity to another have all become second nature. These can be used to create a safer environment in which to gather, and we have done, but it seems only when it suits. A celebration at Stonehenge could have been policed properly, the standard model for Covid prevention could have be implemented, but to outright ban it, when it’s bleeding obvious there will be resistance, and people will attempt to gate-crash, is counter-productive to preventing the spread of the virus, compared to allowing it to go ahead with aforementioned restrictions. Ever been to Stonehenge? Hardly a confined and enclosed space!

If we put measures into Royal Ascot and made it a “pilot,” for Queenie and her affluent chums, we could have done the same with Stonehenge. But we only need to look at the controversial history of retribution by authorities to suspect there’s far more to the reasons for preventing solstice celebrations than the pandemic.

I need not reflect back-to-square-one, the Battle of the Beanfield, rather consider, through the Iron Age, the Roman Empire, and the early Mediaeval periods, while the meaning and significance of Avebury’s stone circle had been lost through the passage of time, people largely let it be, ignoring it, using as a fortified site or even, during Roman times, seeing it as a tourist attraction, much as we do today. It wasn’t until the early 14th century, Late Mediaeval, when England had been wholly transformed to Christianity, the circle was associated with the devil, and villagers ripped down the stones with such anger, one poor chap was killed attempting to topple them.

Imagine the fate, insanely yelling at an eight-foot stone monolith that it was the work of the devil, until it falls and crushes you to death, and your mate is like; yeah, story checks out; that’s gonna hurt in the morning! And why anyone would want to build their church out of stones considered the Devil’s Chair, or the Devil’s Quoits is beyond reasoning.

The irony is, if it wasn’t for Black Death in 1349, halving the village population, when manpower was focussed on agricultural obligations rather than taking their aggression out on a pagan monument, it’s likely there would be no remains for Alexander Keiller to have renovated.

And now, 672 years later, we’ve got our own plague, and on a rain-drenched, dull sunrise anyway, Wiltshire Police waffle, “We have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland. This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area.” When really, it’s common knowledge locally, Avebury is a far less popular solstice celebration site than Stonehenge and would’ve only risked being inundated with vehicles because they closed Stonehenge; swings and roundabouts!

I spoke to a friend, heading to Avebury on motorbike, so able to take the byways across Hackpen Hill to avoid roadblocks. The point being; where there’s a will, there’s a way, folk are prepared to take a hike because, and here’s the thing the authorities fail to grasp, even if solstice is not your cup of tea, it’s time to accept that to thousands of British people, it clearly is.

Yet English Heritage pull their live stream of sunrise at Stonehenge, due to invasion, host Ed Shires announced, “I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven’t been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done.” The pictures that they would have liked, is the image of solitude and splendour, as the sun rises over the stones, to promote the site as a lucrative attraction to tourists, rather than their attempts curb the real connotations it has for the indigenous folk, on what was a dull and rainy morning without much sunrise, anyway! Run the film, I say, show the world what is really happening at Stonehenge, and that it means so much to so many, they’re willing to break the law and lockdown restrictions to be there, and perhaps only then, the embarrassment might make them consider, perhaps, you know, we could have organised an event, with restrictions and made far safer environment than the inevitable invasion; give me strength!


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

Blagging biros and stationery from banks and post offices, we’ve all been there, but few driven to pen a song about it. It’s one valid reason to love the righteous but riotous simplicity of Bristol-based anarchistic vegan folky-ska-punk misfits, Boom Boom Racoon.

Those aware, who thought 2018’s album by the trio, Now That’s What I Call Boom Boom Racoon vol1 was off the head, newly released Songs From The Before Times & Some More takes it to a whole other level. Lockdown raw, rougher and more in your arrogant, fat consumerist face than ever before; put that sausage roll down and prepare to be barked at with a charming slice of satire and counterculture commentary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Devizes; an LGBTQ+-Friendly Community, a Devizes Pride?

As a new local Facebook page for the LGBTQ+ community, Devizes Lgbtq+ springs to life, I’m left wondering exactly what social and counsel interactions are readily available in Devizes today. So, I’m chatting with the page’s admin, Oberon, about his group’s aims and goals.

What I think was most interesting about it, while I dug for negativity, I’d suspect will be evident in our local community towards LGBTQ+, Oberon simply didn’t take the bait, and remained positive throughout our friendly chinwag. Sorry if you came here looking for controversy, this is just a plug for the page and hope it’ll strength both the community and opinions of others towards it.

Firstly, someone shared an already existing Facebook group for LGBTQ+ in Devizes. I supposed having a page rather than a group is less exclusive and not as restricted being it can make looser, more general connections. “I agree,” Oberon started, “a page is much broader and will be easier to reach out to a wider range of people, which will make it easier to advertise, make connections and get the word out.”

As I understand it, Devizes School has an excellent program to deal with the issue, but suppose once pupils leave, there’s little else in town, no real places to feel like a community. “I’m very glad Devizes School have a good programme to help their pupils!” he continued. “As far as when they leave goes, as the LGBTQ+ community grows I’d be happy to say that there will be a place to be a community online and, once the community has found its feet, offline and in person too. The sooner the better I say!”

But is a group like this is more important in a smaller town like Devizes, than say, a city, where there’s already more in place to bring together like-minded people? “I do think an LGBTQ+ community is very important in small towns,” Oberon expressed, “just as much as a city. Many people don’t live in cities or grow up in them, myself included. For a small town to be just as proud and just as accepting is important because it helps to reach everyone. Even if there are a smaller group of LGBTQ+ residents in Devizes it helps to create a safe, inclusive space for us and stops the feeling that small towns don’t ‘understand’ or ‘accept’ as much as larger places do. Furthermore, it can show people that aren’t LGBTQ+ what we’re all about and hopefully help them get a greater understanding of who we are.”

And there’s a thing, causing me to mention Pride. Pride is supported by many people outside the LGBTQ+ community, and that’s probably more important than just being there for those who are, because it’s about casting negative opinions of yore aside, especially in a smaller community like here. Because, and here’s the crunch, being honest, I do think there’s a number of insular people here who simply refuse to shake off the old stereotypes, maybe more so than urban environments.

We’ve come a long way even in my own lifetime, I suggested to him, flagrantly showing my age by citing the awareness in the eighties by singers like Boy George, Jimmy Somerville et all! As while they made it a recognisable subject and broke the taboos we now see in our society, at the time people were still hiding in shame, you still wouldn’t have same sex couples on tv shows like you do today.

The fear is, I do however think we’re in danger of letting that progress slip backwards, as all prejudices seem to be at the forefront and a right wing, or far right-wing gains popularity. I mean we only have look at the onslaught of negative comments when Wiltshire Police added a rainbow flag back in February.

Oberon replied admirably, I must say! “Every human being is an individual with their own beliefs and views, my aim isn’t to change people, it’s just to show them a greater understanding of things, and be who we are. I agree, we have come a very long way and, as with everything, there will always be a negative and a positive side of things. I choose to focus on the positive and that’s the light I aim to share.”

Okay, given that, let’s go for it; imagine, a Devizes Pride! At least, some smaller events, or a physical club would be a great start.

A Devizes Pride would be fantastic and of course that wouldn’t happen overnight,” he replied, which is just as well, as it’s past my bedtime already!

“I aim to start off with smaller events,” Oberon suggested, “community outreach and fundraisers. Physical clubs, meet-ups and youth groups are also something I’d like to get started, as I think they’ll help LGBTQ+ people find one another, in a safe space, and grow a strong community together.”

Still, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a Devizes Pride. “Devizes having its own Pride celebration is an avid goal of mine, amongst others! I believe that the stronger the representation of LGBTQ+ people in Devizes the more that people will have a greater understanding of who we are and what we’re all about. Devizes is a town with a strong community and I am for the LGBTQ+ community to have a ‘louder voice’ as it were.”

But, like any new venture, it would need the support behind it, and all this costs, at this stage is to “like” the page on the Book of Face, and join the separate entity group too, if you wished. It was nice chatting to Oberon, on what can be a touchy subject we need to open up to and address.


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Planks Dairies Introduces Locally Sourced Organic Dairy Range

Now, I know what you’re asking; aren’t you in someway affiliated with Planks’ Dairies, in which case isn’t this a shameless advertorial? Yes, and no, respectively. The historical truth behind the former is next-door neighbours would knock at my door when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, to return our half-filled milk bottles, which I took from our own fridge and delivered to their doors in want to be a milkman! And now, well, ask me again when it’s snowing for a slightly differing opinion, but I’m living the dream!

The answer to the latter is not really, no, you get paid for advertorials, I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart, the circulation of news and the slim possibility they’ll chuck a yogurt at me, most likely at the head!

If Planks have been delivering milk and products around the area since 1936, you’d be fooled into thinking nothing has changed. Agreeably not much has changed, and they pride themselves in upholding the traditional door-to-door milk delivery services, which is something of an obscurity in other areas of the UK. So much so, tourists tend to take photos when the milk-floats pass through town, and I’m likely having a bad hair day!

However, just like the eighties when Stewart Plank introduced the electric fleet we know, love and occasionally get stuck behind today, times are changing at the legendary dairy. Hold the front page, we have a website! Click here, if you don’t believe such an oddity is possible!

But the really great news is, in line with current trends, a new, locally sourced from Berkley Farm in Wroughton, organic range is heading our way. Delivered to your door in larger, returnable glass bottles, as is the sustainable living ethos Planks adopt, what with electric milk-floats and all, organic milk has never been this good; you don’t even have to change out of your jimmy-jams!

Other than the PJs part, there are many benefits to buying organic, including higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, more antioxidants, and more vitamins than regular milk. We’ve even got organic, or regular milkshakes. There’s a half price offer on your first order of the new organic range, whether you are a new customer or just changing your regular order.

The delivery areas are Devizes, Melksham, Corsham, and Pewsey, and most surrounding villages from Poulshot, Potterne, Rowde, All Cannings, Urchfont, Chirton, Woodborough, Wilcot, Seend Cleeve, Bromham, Box, Colerne, Easterton Market Lavington, Great Cheverell and many others.

By the way, as well as soya and lactose free milk, bread, butter, eggs, yogurts, juices (including a fine bottle of a’Becketts apple juice), seasonal potatoes, and yes, those broken biscuits you used to love as a kid, can be delivered too!

And that’s it, contact the dairy-ologists and you’re one step closer to opening your door in the morning to find milk on the step, the way it has always been, prior to supermarkets undercutting dairy farmers, and the way it will continue at Planks. There’s nothing more for me to say, other than perhaps a milkman joke; why don’t cows wear flip-flops?

Because they lack-toes!

Okay, I’ll get my coat….


Full Steam Ahead for The Collected Grimm Tales at The Wharf Theatre

Despite the gloomy pushback to the 19th July for step four of the roadmap to reopen venues, government announced plans to pilot test live theatrical performances with increased capacities, as it has already done for music festivals and sports events.

While this will delight larger city venues, our Wharf Theatre in Devizes must continue with a limited socially distanced capacity for its reopening performance of The Brothers Grimm. All the more reason to book early for this delightful sounding family-orientated presentation!

Collected Grimm Tales runs from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th July, with doors opening at 7.30pm.  It’s adapted by Carol Ann Duffy of the Young Vic Company, dramatized by Tim Supple and directed by Debby Wilkinson.

In this acclaimed adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and more are bought to life by a small adult cast using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  It will take you on a journey into the world of imagination, as you discover the elusive paths that wind through the dark woods of fairy tales and invite you to experience again the living power of theatre.

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.

The fitting with the prince onlooking, illustration in Les Contes de Perrault by Gustave Doré, 1862

Lions, be on the Green!

Though for trade description purposes, there were no actual lions on the Green, (not this time, it’s not 1980) if I had to sum up The Lions on the Green in a word today it would be; blooming marvellous, which I know is two words, but allow me thus, the heat is getting to me.

Under a scorching 30-degree sun, Devizes came out in full colour for something we’ve truly missed. Any kind of gathering right now is a blessing, but I have to commend and thank the amazing effort at creating a bonza family-orientated occasion. Devizes Lions pulled out all the stops with a car show plus.

Fantasy Radio provided the soundtrack, there was a great selection of hot food and a bar with seating half in the shade of the trees, doughnut and ice cream vans, kids fairground rides, and a variety of stalls from Julia’s House tombola, Jeanette Von Berg’s Wiltshire Air Ambulance toy stall, local crafts, Rutts Lane Cider (I swear that guy is following me around!) Wiltshire Museum with their jack-in-the-box, and lots more to see and do for everyone.

People flocked, to browse the vintage cars, and oh yes, Bertie the Bus, in the glorious sunshine. I’m not one for bragging my infinite knowledge of the mechanics of motor vehicles, but I appreciate perusing their splendour, imagine myself donning leather gloves and racing goggles, and revving them for a burn-out, or pondering the backseat space of, in particular, those American beauties; “take me home, Charles, I’m not that kind of girl!” Ah yes, that kind of ye oldie face-slapping scenario.

In true community spirit Devizes should be honoured today, and glad to have the dedicated organisation Devizes Lions at hand. A town where even our post boxes wear knitted tams, there’s a buzz in the air, a pride we can’t hide. Well done to all!


Local Artist Clifton Powell Commissioned for English Heritage Exhibition The African Diaspora in England

A proud moment for Devizes-based artist Clifton Powell as he poses for a photo next to his amazing portrait of Abbot Hadrian, in Canterbury.

Clifton joins Elena Onwochei-Garcia, Glory Samjolly, Mikéla Henry-Lowe, Hannah Uzor and Chloe Cox in a project by English Heritage. EH has commissioned a series of portraits depicting six historic figures from the African diaspora whose stories have contributed to England’s rich history. Each artist has been supported by their curators and historians to creatively portray their subject. Each painting will be hung at the English Heritage site connected to its subject this summer.

St Hadrian of Canterbury played a pivotal role in the early history of the English Church. He was born in North Africa and travelled to Italy, most likely as a refugee, before making the journey to Canterbury. He was abbot of the monastery of St Peter and St Paul (later St Augustine’s) in Canterbury, between 670 and 710.

During his time in Canterbury, he became an influential teacher and scholar, and helped shape the theology and rites of worship of the English Church.

Clifton Powell studied at the Jamaica School of Art in Kingston, Jamaica, and moved to the UK in the late 1980s. A versatile and skilled painter, Clifton is influenced by the places he has travelled to and the people he’s met. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions and art fairs in London, Bath, Stroud and the West Country including the International Black Art Fair, The House of Emperor Haile Selassie, Bluestone Gallery and Diaspora at Salisbury Arts Centre.

You may also remember me reporting on the day I attended the charity-run art group for the elderly, Arts Together, in Melksham way back in February 2019, where I met with Clifton, who is a mentor and volunteer.

Recent areas of exploration in his work include the Wiltshire countryside, wildlife, birds, still life and his remarkable series of paintings depicting unrest in the world. He is currently working on a painting project titled African Art. You can catch his work closer to home, from 21st June to 3rd July at The Yelde Hall in Chippenham when he exhibits as part of Breakout, the Alternative Art Show.

A follow-up to the 2019 exhibit Never Mind The Heritage, Here’s an Art Show, in which three local artists, Si Griffiths, Mike Long and Emma Sally exhibited their “alternative art,” Breakout extends the concept, with additional artists Clifton, Daniel Carmichael, Helen Osborne-Swan, Jimmer Willmott and Montague Tott, as well as Si, Mike and Sally. I’m looking forward to this one.

While I’m on the subject of art, don’t forget we have an online art gallery on Devizine, yes we do! Each artist gets a page to show off their work, Clifton’s is here, and if you’d like to be featured with links to your website, just drop us a line, there is no fee.


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Devizes Wharf Theatre Launch Youth Theatre

Have you any young budding actors in your family? Drama kings and queens?! You might like to know Devizes Wharf Theatre have just launched a Youth Theatre. See I could have done with this when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, as I liked to act. Okay, you got me, that was act the fool. I’d think myself lucky if I got the rear-end role of the pantomime horse!

In the past, The Wharf Theatre has produced some amazing youth productions, if you remember the hugely successful Legally Blonde Junior in the summer of 2019, for example.

Wharf Theatre

“We have long felt and recognised that to safeguard the future of the world of theatre it is vital to inspire and encourage the next generation and have been working, behind the scenes, to create a group especially dedicated to them,” they say, announcing two youth theatre directors now in a position to officially launch The Wharf Youth Theatre, ready for September. Here are the details:

Senior Actors Company

Friday 6-8pm. Sept 24th – Oct 22nd/Nov 5th – Dec 3rd

For school years 10-13 (as of September ‘21)

This group will be led by Lou Cox.  Lou’s career highlights include theatre tours, The Edinburgh Festival, singing professionally at Glastonbury festival and stand-up comedy. Lou is now a freelance drama teacher at various schools in the area and is a LAMDA examiner. She also directs and has recently started exciting projects with Barnardo’s adoption agency, using drama as a training tool for adoptive parents and a refugee charity in Swindon.

This Company bridges the gap between school drama offering you further practitioner knowledge, a chance to develop your performance skills and many opportunities to perform in our very own theatre. It is a chance to work with like-minded people once a week who share the same passion for drama. You will explore theatre through the ages, engage in practitioner acting theories, work with text and devise your own work. There will be opportunities for students to compete in performance festivals, perform a live play to a paid audience and most importantly have fun!

10-week term £90. (Concessionary places available – please contact; artisticdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lou at: senioryouthdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk

Junior Actors Company

Thursdays 4.30-6pm Sept 23rd – Oct 21st/Nov 4th – Dec 2nd

This group is for school years 6-9 (as of September ‘21)

This group will be led by Lucia Pupilli.  Lucia studied at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and has worked professionally in various theatre and film productions including ‘White collar hooligans’ directed by Paul Tanter in Rio de Janeiro and ‘His and Hers’ directed by Lisa Spirling at The Egg theatre in Bath. Lucia has performed in clubs and restaurants as a cabaret singer and has also worked as a Primary School teacher for five years in Wiltshire. She founded ‘Music with Lucia’ teaching instrumental lessons on Piano, Flute and Voice and, in addition, enjoys performing with ‘The Invitation Theatre Company’ and The Fulltone Orchestra.

10-week term £75. (Concessionary places available – please contact:artisticdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lucia at:

 junioryouthdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk

Bookings for Autumn Term Opening Soon

In order to book please find details of the membership system on their website: wharftheatre.co.uk

Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre’

Wharf Theatre

The concentration will be on fun at the junior actor’s school workshops, building confidence and gaining skills through drama, games and improvisations. They’ll be rehearsing and performing scenes from plays and devising their own. The aim is to put on an annual show as they progress.

The workshops are not only an opportunity to develop acting and drama skills but also to make friends and become confident young adults. The Wharf encourage all children to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive environment.

In addition to the fuller workshops of these new youth companies, the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all.

Senior Actors with Lou

Wednesday July 28th 10am-1pm

Wednesday August 11th 10am-1pm

Junior Actors with Lucia

Wednesday August 4th 2-5pm

Wednesday August 11th 2-5pm.

Each 3-hour workshop costs £15.

Bookings can be made on Ticketsource via their website wharftheatre.co.uk .  Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre.’ Places are limited but they will be operating a wait list system if groups are full.

Me? I’m passed it now, I’m afraid, but I’ll always have my moment in the spotlight, my Shakin’ Stevens impression on my cub scout pack-holiday. You had to have been there…..or not!


Trending….

Opinion: Kruger Perpetrates Local Rise of Condemnation for Travellers, Focused in Bromham

In a press release dated 24th September 2020, MP Danny Kruger claimed Boris Johnson had called upon him to report for government calls for a new era of ‘community power.’ This included “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown.” He christened his paper, “Levelling up our communities,” a vision for “a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.”

As shpil it sounds a-okay, a far cry from a Conservative Party of yore set against the people it’s supposed to serve, a Conservative Party which, on 1st June 1985, ordered police to viciously attack a Peace Convoy, setting up the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival. History recalls it “The Battle of the Beanfields,” any witness could better perceive it as a politicide massacre. Its aim, to eliminate categories of people who either chose to live their life on the road, happened to stumble across this way of life by unpreventable circumstance, or grew up nurtured in such an environment, for political advantages. As a blanket term we call them travellers.

But that’s all it is, a blanket term, there is no organised grouping anymore than people who own a home are assembled, therefore there is no reason to presume any individual classed as such is part of a joint ethos, a collective philosophy or tenet. Attitudes and opinions of such a grouping differ as vastly as those who live in a house, or a bungalow, or a flat. To note someone who lives in a flat breaking the law, is ludicrous for bungalow dwellers to make a sweeping generalisation that, ergo everyone who lives in a flat is therefore a law-breaker. Yet prejudge typecasting seems to be systematically accepted, ingrained and encouraged when focussed on travellers.  

Hard to define exactly as an ethnic group, as while Romany Gypsies are bound into the stereotype, not all are such, so, calling the racist card is unwarranted, but it is a definite form of prejudice, which aimed at other groupings would be frowned upon. Yet how does Danny Kruger remember the Battle of the Beanfields on its anniversary this week? His office, fronted by, I might add, Rebecca Hudson, the journalist who first broke the news of the Salisbury poisonings and therefore a far more articulate professional than the mere meanderings of a milkman, put out a Facebook post condemning the actions of a traveller site in Bromham. Despite Bromham isn’t his jurisdiction, it is in the division of Wiltshire councillor Laura Mayes, though.

I asked Laura why it’s necessary for Danny Kruger to get involved with, what seems to me, to be a simple planning permission issue. After all, planning permission disputes must be a regular occurrence in the county, and there’s never a need to involve an MP. Laura responded, “the problem is that the planning activity is illegal – there is an Enforcement Notice and an Emergency Stop Notice and the owners have ignored them.”

Danny’s post included the explanation, “deliveries of hardcore were made to the field, breaching the Enforcement Notice. The clear expectation is that an illegal Traveller encampment is being created and an influx of caravans is now expected.” Hardly an “expectation,” rather speculation; a big difference. A speculation driven by the aforementioned ingrained prejudge, is my “expectation.” Fair game by his own criteria?  

In discussion with Gazette & Herald reporter Kirsten Robertson, The Ward family say the delivery of hardcore is to form a bund, an embankment to control the flow of water. Face it, evidence that it’s not a plan to expand the site or allow more travellers onto it. In a heartfelt plea for peace Bridget Ward, 21, told the Gazette, “We just want to live in peace and become part of the community.”

Yet negative, often offensive comments and name-calling slurs flood social media coverage of the simple planning dispute. It doesn’t help bridge the divide when the council “recommends the public stay away from the site.” Neither does it help when an MP lashes out, the post calculatedly shared on only one local Facebook group, known for an absence of admin regulations and therefore being a highly opinionated group.

We should note, they are not residing illegally, the land was bought in 2014, with an article 4 direction on it, which makes it unsuitable for development anyway. Any attempt to improve the site has been refused permission, the adding of fences, planting of trees and creation of an equestrian area. Constant refusal of simple improvement plans, the hostility against them verbally, constitutes the notion they’re simply not wanted there. Where in Wiltshire would they be welcome?

Wiltshire Council own and manage just three residential Gypsy and Traveller sites, with a total capacity to accommodate fifty-one families, who, in contrary to popular belief, are subject to rent charges, Council tax and service charges for site, water and electricity. Across a whole county, it’s a failure compared with Essex, with twelve sites accommodating 188 families, Somerset has eighteen sites, seven sites in Berkshire, the list continues not forgoing Wiltshire Council looks to possibly sell the three sites they do own under part of the recently concluded Regulation 18 consultation to prepare a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document.

While we should respect permissions for planning need to be made, and upheld, little is done to provide a legal alternative for travellers in the county. Coupled with the ramifications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could see travellers facing a fine or prison if they set up unauthorised encampments rather than currently being a civil offence, Danny Kruger’s “levelling up our communities,” constitutes of the eradication of a way of life which has operated for centuries. In fact, pre-Neolithic age, we were all nomadic. Chew on that fat for a moment.

One comment added, “we don’t live in a lawless country,” yet when Danny illegally posted his campaign posters around polling stations, when he ignored lockdown regulations by failing to wear a mask on the train, when he allowed his dog to attack deer on Richmond Common, we brushed them under the carpet, I even defended the latter as an accident.

What about when the High Court said government acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of more than 500 Covid contracts, or abolishing the permit-free training scheme for doctors who qualified outside the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union without proper consultation, or the case where it departed from the UK’s longstanding policy on opposing the death penalty in all circumstances? Need I continue? Why then, can we not give a little leeway here? Is a delivery of some hardcore to create a bund somehow more damaging to society as the examples given above?

The fact Danny’s offending Facebook post had a grammatical error I’d forgive a primary school pupil to overlook, “and a influx of caravans,” suggests this was not the calculated penning of a skilled journalist, rather a knee-jerk reaction handsome-faced Danny K needs to take a chill pill from before the silver spoon launches from his mouth.

And I say this because, the issue at hand is clearly overexposed by our prejudice, a presuppose striking fear into a family with a young child, for crying out loud, take a look at yourself! I plead you put the political matter aside for just a moment and think outside the box, would you try defend yourself given such hostilities towards you? Is it any different from Afrikaans erecting steel gates and barbed wire to protect their property in apartheid-era Johannesburg? How you can expect travellers not to be slightly anarchic when faced with such exacerbation against them?

Especially in this, quite honestly, trivial instant, far from the given stereotype, where we have a local family simply pleading to blend in and be part of a community. Bridget tells me, “I asked him [Danny Kruger] to stand up for us, against the hate and racism, and to sign the pledge card, but he has just ignored that. We just feel helpless.” This isn’t about hardcore delivery at all, is it?

What do you get out of this Danny, a permit to touch Pritti’s petticoat?! Hardly the “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown,” is it, mucker?!


After-Thoughts of Indieday

I’m glad to hear Indie Day was a great success, read the brilliant overview by Kirsten.

As I need my beauty sleep after work, I rocked up in the afternoon unfortunately as it was all winding down, so it’s unfair for me to assees it.

But I think the event is difficult to assess visually as we tend to think of an event happening in one place, whereas the idea here is to wander the fantastic array of independent shops we have in Devizes. Ergo the event will never look as crowded as a festival, as folk are dispersed throughout town; hopefully in the shops!

I was disappointed by unannounced changes in the performance times, as I arrived an hour too late to catch the brilliant Will Foulstone. But I am pleased to hear the piano will stay in the Shambles for free usage. This is exactly the sort of thing The Shambles needs.

The only method of measuring the success of the day is via the footfall and sales of the shop owners, and I hope they did well. Yet the most important point, I think, is that using independent shops is not for a special day, rather we consider shopping in them every day.

Taking it for granted is damaging, we’d be sorry to see any of them have to close. Yet lockdown has strengthened the position of internet shopping, and without overheads the price war obviously is one-sided.

I only need to think of the reaction of people from out of our area, say builders working on houses, or tourists who take photos of me on my way home when either see an old fashioned milk float drive past, to know how privileged we are to live in an area where traditions die harder than other parts of the country.

There are times, I confess, where some traditions are unwelcome in today’s society where we now see the bigger picture, or methods have changed for the better. There is no need to hunt foxes, any more than a need to send children to work in mines or up chimneys, for example. There’s many elements which are questionable about continuing traditions, our anarchic attitudes towards others, be they from other ethnic backgrounds or ways of life, and our failure to integrate new technologies to aid us, or failure to understand political corruption. But the concept of wandering a high street, the bell above the shop door ringing, and a welcoming smile isn’t one of them.

The high street must look to methods of retaining the reality of real life shopping by providing what folk want, be it cafe culture, bustling markets, which is precisely what Devizes captures so well. Compare and contrast this with the dull experience of a large town shopping mall. I can think of nothing more mundane than wandering through these samey monstrosities of mass commercialism, there’s no individualism, there’s nothing unique or inspiring. Precisely why they have to slap names on them, like “village” or “park” to make them appealing. They’re not villages or parks, call a spade a spade; they’re shopping centres!

Anyway, I bagged me some local scrumpy, from Lavington’s Rutts Lane Cider stall at the Farmer’s Market, so there’s no need for me to be negative! Though, if you find typos here this morning, you know who to blame!

Went to IndieDay, shopped local, came back home with the loot….

I am a Rutts Lane Cider drinker, it soothes all me troubles away, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay, Ooh arrh, ooh arrh ay!

Long live the traditional shops of Devizes, I say, but only if we support them will our saying be worth their weight. Well done to the organisers of this great day.