Soultimate; The Piaggio Soul Combination

Hey you, with the comb in your back pocket, imagine if the Brand New Heavies were signed by Motown in 1964, and you’d be a smidgen near the awesome sound of the Piaggio Soul Combination. Sprinkle some talc on the dancefloor and I’ll give you lowdown on their scorcher of a new album, Soultimate, released on the 28th January on Area Pirata Records…….

From the Supremes-a-like opening bars of track one, Hang On, also the preceding single, you’ll be wishing you were in knee-high white boots and chequered mini skirt, I know I was! By name and nature, it’s so You Keep Me Hanging on, it might as well be a sequel. Yet despite it’s obvious retrospection, there’s something remarkably fresh and electrifying about it, reminding me of 1985, when Diana Ross detonated pop progression with the number one single, Chain Reaction.

But if Soultimate begins with the Kiss (keep it simple, stupid) ethos of the classic beguiling soul-pop Motown sound, there’s more in store as the album progresses; it gets far more complex than Motown’s manufactured sound, exploring mod culture from all aspects. It’s a glorious, uplifting start, though, projecting the happy-go-lucky atmosphere it carries throughout, and will force you to do the Watutsi; I know I did!

Consider mod subculture’s conception to be uniquely working-class British, while youthful cohorts at the time may’ve thought it something entirely innovative, hence the name, rather it cherrypicked existing principles, fashion and music from elsewhere. The music descended from Afro-American R&B, jazz and the ska sound from Jamaica, whereas the fashion arrived via Italy, from zoot suits to scooters.

Maybe this is payback, because The Piaggio Soul Combination hail from Pisa, Tuscany, where long-standing mod Marco ‘Piaggio’ Piaggesi combined the best singers and musicians of the local Latin-soul scene, including the breath-taking vocals of Lakeetra Knowles, who features as lead on the majority of tracks.

Second tune in is a quirky, beguiling nod to aforementioned contemporary scooter culture, with a subterranean piano riff, you’ll be doing the nose-holding finale of the Swim dance; I know I was!

Image: Letizia Reynaud

From here, maintaining its catchiness, it graduates through Motown to a rawer, Stax sound, yet never without usage of the nu-jazztronica elements to keep it fresh; polyrhythms of tasty basslines, organ, groove-laden guitars and a tight horn-section. Five tracks in and things go up a Latino notch, with Se Llama Boogaloo, an irresistible son montuno number, definitely the most diverse song on the album, making it perhaps the standout.

As each element comes to the forefront, it tends to add to the overall sound of the subsequent tunes, and while a Motown influenced mainstay returns, there’s still evidence of the boogaloo and nu-jazz, Hitman being a prime example, where things nod to nineties Acid Jazz, hence my Brand New Heavies citation earlier.

Towards the end, Blindman and the instrumental Dome Slow in particular, tends off towards an electronic blues influences, preserving a continuous upbeat sixties’ mod vibe. Like beehive sporting Emily Capell, her niche being London pseudo-rap fashion amidst similar retrospection, with this melting pot of variation, the Piaggio Soul Combination wouldn’t suffer the “Duffy effect,” the noughties retrospective Welsh singer who failed to maintain her overnight success. For this is The Piaggio Soul Combination’s third album since 2017, though their debut for Area Pirata, and it’s a sparkly upbeat, highly danceable modern soul classic.

Within a burgeon reimaging of Northern Soul and scooter scenes of yore, the time is right for this entertaining collective, yet regardless of movements, the solid soul grooves laid here are era-spanning and tricky to pinpoint, best just do the funky chicken across your kitchen; I know I did, couldn’t help myself!


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Bristol’s The Scribes Signed With Stimulus

If the brilliant evening with The Allergies at Devizes’ Muck & Dundar this month did anything more than cause me to dance my socks off, it also made me evaluate the risk of bringing hip hop acts to our often-insular market town. The Allergies certainly rocked the rum bar, deejaying funky hip hop beats, and drew a crowd, but I ponder the reaction to the boom-bap rap of the country’s upcoming trio, Bristol-based The Scribes. I would be interested on your views on this, I mean, would you buy a ticket for a hip-hop-based evening with The Scribes?

Have no doubts, we’ve been biggin’ up these lyrical geniuses for some time, but December sees them reaching a dizzy new height, of which we must congratulate them for. Fresh off the back of their forty-date summer tour, The Scribes are pleased to announce the group’s official signing with the incredible Stimulus Management Agency.

The Scribes at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate

The festival favourites will be joining a star-studded roster full of the biggest names in hip hop including, Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier, Ghostface Killah, Jadakiss, KRS One, Megan Thee Stallion, Method Man, Mos Def, Nas, Pete Rock, Public Enemy, Redman, Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, Wu Tang Clan and others. There’s even some I, an aging old skooler know on there, never really getting over It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

The Scribes will be part of the agency’s growing UK contingent alongside British hip hop legends Skinnyman, Rodney P, Dj Skitz and Klashnekoff. So this is not only great news for The Scribes themselves but UK Hip Hop universally.

A huge post-covid summer saw the act grace stages across the full length of the UK and further cement their reputation as a must-see act, with standout performances at Latitude Festival and The Great Estate drawing huge crowds to witness The Scribes’ critically acclaimed live show.

Signing with Stimulus is a clear sign that even bigger things are on the way for The Scribes, with a new tour kicking off on January 29th to celebrate the release of “The Totem Trilogy Part 2” EP, produced by Vice Beats and featuring US legends Dizzy Dustin (Ugly Duckling) and Akil The MC (Jurassic 5) that will take the group around the UK yet again.

Kevin of Stimulus Management said, “Stimulus is an exciting new talent booking agency and music management company covering a wide range of genres from Hip-Hop, R&B and Jazz to Reggae and Electronic music. We have an extensive roster of international musicians, vocalists, DJ’s and Celebrities for commercial or private events. We think The Scribes are a great addition to our UK Rap artists, we love their live show and they add something a bit different and special to our roster.” Yes, so do we at Devizine, and ask, you the reader, isn’t it time to welcome them to The Vizes?


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Stormtrooper in a Teacup at Devizes Town Council

A Saturday afternoon, I’m trying to watch the new Boba Fett Star Wars series here, and what’s more important, I ask you; me being fair and impartial about a Handforth-Parish-Council-Zoom-meeting style squabble between Devizes Town Councillors, or the fate of the Tusken Raiders now the Hutt’s legacy has concluded on Tatooine?!

It’s rhetorical, full gone conclusion, yet being without endorsement I was quoted in local rag The Gazelle & Herod, I feel about as moderately involved as Salacious was in Return of the Jedi (he’s the giggling jester gremlin who lives in the folds of Jabba’s flab.)

To quote Obi-Wan, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened!” No shit, Jedi; Devizes Town Council are trying to stop councillors posting so much as an amusing meme on social media, or least that’s the talk on social media, initiated by a town councillor!

Between North Ward Conservative Iain Wallis stating his case within the confines of his own Facebook group, Devizes Issues, I’m also chatting with East Ward Conservative Johnathan Hunter, in a kinda east coast/north side stand off. I’ve told them both what they need is a nice, Labour speaker to settle the score, but neither rose to the bait; typical Tories!

To begin I took Iain’s opinion as red, supporting his gallant efforts to project the happenings within DTC, as other councillors don’t use social media with quite the same efficiency. But Johnathan, concerned the local rag went to town with a one-sided scoop, “a half-story without the full facts and presented them in a way which couldn’t be further from the truth,” claimed, “the last thing anyone wants are restrictions in free speech or any type of so-called gagging, which would be absolutely unacceptable as well as plainly ridiculous.”

Yeah, that’s what I was going with, ridiculous. Ridiculouso, because while they’re squabbling between themselves over usage of social media, one has to ponder if they’re dealing with the issues they’re supposed to be dealing with; my nan would say “I’ll bash yer bleedin’ ‘eads together,” cos she resolved conflicts that way, that’s why there were never conflicts in the family.

Jonathan continued, he “would never oppose the use of social media. No one wants draconian restrictions or censorship; however, no single person should control the narrative. Iain provides excellent updates and info on social media, but is selective with rules and posts. I’m not a Guardian but there are some good people who want good stuff for the town. I think with social media groups there should be a more open approach and less controlling if counter views don’t suit a particular narrative.”

So, according to Johnathan, no one objected to a deadlock on social media usage, rather suggested it was controlled with equality for all councillors, and this has been blown out of proportion. “Totally blown!” he responded.

Devizes Town Council proudly announces on its website: In March 2020 the Council was re-accredited with a Quality Gold Award – which it has held since 2015 – demonstrating it delivers its services in a way which is at the forefront of best practice by achieving an excellent standard in community governance, community leadership and performance management.

Ah, that’s nice, but what of it, if the public doesn’t know what services it actually delivers? Where can you find out what’s happening at DTC?

There’s a website, with PDFs of minutes. Can I get the minutes of the meeting involving this outcry? “The 2017 policy is on the council website,” Johnathan tells me, “But as the proposals haven’t been approved, they are not in the public domain.” It’s a far slower process than despatching a Tweet, and besides, you’ve got to go find it, rather than it splash in your face via your phone.

I told Iain, “Folk don’t come (to meetings) as I suspect they believe they’ll succumb to hours of ‘article 234 on the agenda, Reg Smith wants to erect a weathercock on his shed…. type stuff. Ergo, we need a summary, which is exactly what you do, and most would be in favour of that, logically.”

“There is definitely a place for an officially DTC line and it should be on their Facebook page,” Iain replied. “DTC social media presence has improved significantly since the new community engagement manager took up her post.” Though compare Devizes Town Council’s Facebook page’s 1,073 likes, and 123 followers on Twitter, with Devizes Issues’ 14K members, understandable Mr Wallis’ posts there have tenfold the clout of DTC posting on its own page.

What they need is to take a leaf from Iain’s book, create a flourishing “group” rather than a “page” as it’s more open to discussion, and anyone can contribute. Then, and only then, can DTC say please keep social media posts about council matters on the DTC group. Jonathan agrees, “it needs to be improved.”

Hopeful if done it would put an end to the pettiness? Yeah, right. Iain gives me a ‘however’; “I think there is also the case for individual councillors to speak. We are not one council and we are not all bound to think and speak in the same way. We are bound by democratically made decisions but we don’t have to like them. We should be able to engage with the public and give our own views separately to the council’s official position.”

Totally agree with Iain on this one, though on their own platform rather than one they have created for “general purpose.” As the dispute of the impartiality of Devizes Issues is never-ending, it is up to the individual to note he controls that particular powerful Facebook page, and what is published are not agreements made by the entire council; akin to national media, who knows what to believe anymore?

Jonathan’s key concern is that, “an article has been written in the G&H and also posted by Iain, grossly exaggerating potential proposals and is therefore misinforming the public by using headlines like gagging order. The draft policy hasn’t even been debated and agreed in the relevant committee in Council.”

In a heartfelt counter-article placed on other local Facebook groups, which Johnathan says he’s “not allowed to share elsewhere,” he calls there’s “never been any intention to restrict debate, free speech or social media interaction – it’s crucial to have an ongoing conversation within the community and for the community.”

“What a sound social media policy would look like is one when no single individual controls the narrative, and/or censors free speech claiming that it doesn’t fit into the rules as it doesn’t suit a particular narrative. Many organisations are reviewing their social guidelines to also move forward with the times, especially in a world of misinformation.”

Newly elected in May last year, what we know of him is his hard-working community projects particularly during lockdown, in planning and committee responsibilities, his focus on building better provision for young people, and involvement in Greening Projects. “However,” he states, “I am not involved in any schemes to restrict free speech, censorship or that crass term ‘gagging order.’”

What we have here is a storm in a teacup, intended to belittle parts of the council by other sides. In my honest opinion, the argument is crass and misinforming, but not reflective of the good and hard work councillors are really doing behind the scenes.

Though those behind-the-scenes points need to be publicised impartially better than it is, and folk need to be made aware what they’re reading is the view of one councillor only when taking information from the Devizes Issues. We’ve covered the bias there in the past, my conclusion is, intentional or unintentional there is, despite denial from admin. It came to apex when I myself was banned for proposing it was wrong for the taxpayer to fork out the millions for the PCC re-election, and I stand by that notion as proof of censorship.

Same here I confess, if you were to suggest Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was right to manipulate the battle of Geonosis to escalate the Clone Wars, I’d have you banned, outright!

But in the Star Wars universe one councillor would saunter into The Mos Eisley cantina, and with one bout of laser gun battle would solve the problem, and that’s not usually the way it works in Devizes. “Devizes town council meetings actually sound that bit more exciting than I projected here,” I added to Iain’s musings on the episode, “do we bring our own weapons or are they provided?” It got two laughing emojis, which was all I was after, really, I don’t expect this to be solved anytime soon.

Might as well go for all three trilogies in one, and send yourself to a galaxy far far away than wait for a conclusion to this!


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Can you Help Teddy?

What better way to start the new year off than helping a doggie with a hole in his heart? Teddy the golden cockapoo, and owner Hannah Knowles from Tidworth are raising money to help towards Teddy’s two heart operations.

“Teddy is a with a vibrant personality that lights up our lives,” Hannah said. “We recently lost two dogs this year and decided we were ready for a new troublemaker in the house to give her new sister Ke Ke some company. They bonded instantly and haven’t left each other alone since. The vet thought she had a heart murmur until she went for a check-up scan and discovered she had a pulmonic stenosis and Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). In short this means she has a hole in her heart and needs a balloon in her artery, this will require two heart surgeries when she reaches 4 kilos. These operations will cost a total of £8000 and its money that a normal working family does not have.”

“We have hope for teddy and there is a 95% chance she will live a normal doggy life after. She has bonded with her new sister Ke Ke and we can’t imagine their lives without each other. Any donation is appreciated and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Hannah has set up a GoFundMe page, here, if you can, please donate. Thank you!


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Jon Amor to Take Up Sunday Residency at The Southgate

Featured images by Nick Padmore

I still remember landlord Deborah’s face aglow some years back, when she told me Devizes blues legend Jon Amor was booked to play The Southgate. He’s made several appearances since, as solo and as frontman of King Street Turnaround, but today the Southgate announced Jon will take up a Sunday residence at the lively Devizes pub…..

It will be a quieter New Year’s Eve for the Southgate, there is no music booked and from Monday 3rd to Monday 10th January the pub will be closed. “We’re keeping it simple on NYE, no live music, believe it or not!” Deborah said. “But we’re saving the best of the best until Sunday with a mega Blues/Funk/Rock gig to blow away the extended hangovers!

With an awesome line-up on Sunday 2nd, as Jon is joined with Innes Sibun, Pete Gage, Jerry Soffe, and Tom Gilkes, I knew about this little marvel, and it has been up on our calendar for a while now. What I didn’t know is this will build a new house band for the Gate, “yes,” Deborah delights to inform, “Jon Amor and friends are taking up residency! Sunday afternoon gigs, first Sunday every month for 2022.”

So expect to see King Street Turnaround with Jon and friends on the first Sunday of each month down the Gate, which is some great news!

The future is bright, the future is The Southgate! Reopening on Tuesday 11th Jan, with the absolutely awesome rock covers band Triple JD Band on Saturday 15th! Rock on!

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Meanwhile our event calendar is building up with choices for New Year’s Eve, do check it out for links, and have a great New Year; hopefully might catch you down the Southgate on Sunday, if I’m allowed out to play by the boss!

Billy Green (solo) @ The Hourglass, Devizes

Devizes Scooter Club NYE Party @ Devizes Cons Club

New Year’s Eve @ The Vaults

New Year’s Eve @ Massimos, Devizes

Rip it Up @ The Greyhound, Bromham

Sour Apple @ The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve

Six O’clock Circus @ The Talbot, Calne

The Roughcut Rebels NYE bash @ The Churchill Arms, West Lavington

New Year’s Eve Party @ The Green Dragon, Market Lavington

Illingworth @ the Waterfront Bar, Pewsey

Get Schwithty (Jamie R Hawkins & Phil Cooper) @ The Bear, Marlborough

80s, 90s, 00s NYE Party @ Wellington Arms, Marlborough

Deathproof Audio NYE Party @ the Vic, Swindon

Dubsouls & The Rumble-O’s @ The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath

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Tributes Pour in for Bradford-on-Avon Musician Tom Rockliffe

Image by Richard Clarke (c) richardclarkephotos

Described as a “local enigma,” Bradford-on-Avon pays tribute to local legend, Tom Rockliffe today, who sadly passed away. Tom was celebrated for his rootsy blues and west country folk, delivered with humour and modesty.

Yet Tom was so much more than this, a stable presence on the local music scene, he hosted open mic nights at Bradford’s Canal Tavern and The Swan Hotel, lent his hand at a number of locally based events, including Fringe BoA, The Bradford Roots Festival and The Village Pump Folk Festival.

Long-term friend and work associate, Kev Kyte told us, “Tom Rockliffe was one of life’s true one-offs.”

“I first knew him when I was 22, and he was 47,” Kev continues, “when I started work for a family firm which built narrowboats. Tom and I were the two boatbuilders, the only other people working there being the couple who owned it.”

“Despite my youth, Tom accepted me as an equal, without question. This is rarely the case in engineering. Tom was a man who was passionate in all he did, and all he believed in. He believed in fairness and hope to all who deserved as such.”

“During the time we worked together, he often commented how the general public looked at us welder fabricators- a skilled trade, however with us often wearing scruffy, burned clothing- as ‘tramps with tape measures.’ I often smile, thinking of that wry observation.”

“Tom was hugely passionate about music, another thing that made our friendship transcend that of merely colleagues. A man who walked and hitchhiked many, many miles in the sixties and seventies to some of the most vital, well-known gigs and festivals, he was especially proud of having been at the first ‘Pilton festival’, Glastonbury as it’s now known.”

“He was in his element when recalling seeing Led Zeppelin, The Stones, Hendrix, etc. His passion was contagious. Tom became very important in the local music scene, playing extensively as a solo guitar player and singer, performing covers and his own music, such as his best-known number, ‘The Tortoise Song.’ He organised and helped organise many festivals and open mic nights, proudly championing his fellow musicians.”

“Tom played at my father’s 70th birthday,” Kev explained, “and also my wedding, as the sole performer at each. A fantastic raconteur as well as musician, he went down extremely well at both. I will miss my old friend very much, a man who truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, and always for the better.”

Ade Ibanez shared a picture from the early days of the Canal Tavern, and said of Tom, “he did more than anyone can say for local music and musicians. So much has developed from what he started.” And heartfelt tributes poured in on the Live Music in Bradford-on-Avon Facebook page, including the Swan Hotel.

Renowned local band, The Boot Hill All Stars added, “Tom – you were definitely one of the good guys. A music scene is nothing without those enthusiastic people at the grass roots getting things off the ground and giving people their first opportunities.” And band member Mick, who also runs the monthly show Sounds of the Wilderness on West Wilts Radio plans to pay tribute to Tom on the coming show.


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Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club Brings Blues Royalty to Devizes

If local media are reporting tomorrow’s arrival of the Duchess of Cornwall to Devizes, here to browse Wiltshire Museum’s Ravilious Downland Man exhibition, and erm, wave and stuff, here at Devizine we’d rather do cartwheels over the breaking news of Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club’s spring time ball, which promises to bring local blues royalty to the Corn Exchange.

The celebrated monthly Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club jams at Lacock’s Owl Lodge remains unticked on my to-do-list, work restricting Sunday evening outings, but I’ve heard only good things. Stepping up their game, yesterday the club announced a rather spectacular one-off event at Devizes Corn Exchange, set for Saturday 12th March 2022.

A band Devizine will never cease praising, the incredible Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue headline the evening, and if that’s not enough to break your purse out, our homegrown Innes Sibun Blues Explosion also get top billing. International award-winning one man band, Eddie Martin also plays, and Bromham’s honky-tonk 12-bar guy, Will Blake, brings his fantastic band too, part of which includes special guest, Bristol’s finest singer, saxophonist and flautist, Rosa Gray.

Such a fabulous line-up, it’s a win-win. Every booking is an act we’ve highly recommended in the past, and it’s my birthday too; glad rags on I say; mine’s a cider, cheers.

Though as the name suggests, the Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club is indeed a club, and members get first dibs when tickets go on sale Friday, exclusively to them. If and when tickets go on general release, I will let you know, but Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club appear a tad unresponsive to social media messages, so to publish this inviting preview here’s hoping they’ll give us the lowdown closer to the time, probably too busy getting their mojo working!

Here’s their Facebook page, seems the best contact method, 12th December is their next jam session at the Owl Lodge, it’s a snip at six quid entry, and comes across as a wonderful evening’s entertainment.  


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The Fulltone goes BIG!

The F.T.O. Big Band at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon. 21/11/2021

Ian Diddams

The Fulltone Orchestra (a.k.a. FTO) was formed back in 2017, the vision and brainchild of its Musical Director, Anthony Brown. Since then, the orchestra has performed across Wiltshire playing a wide genre of orchestral based music, from iconic movie themes to Bernstein and Gershwin, then Russian composers and The Planets, and most recently a firework extravaganza of classical music (with no actual fireworks folks!).  Then there has been its involvement with “The Invitation Theatre Company” (a.k.a. TITCo) with the inaugural, and this year’s “Fulltone Festivals”, and the incredible “Jeff Wayne’s Musical version of the War Of The Worlds” reprised in 2019 in Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre.
And of course the amalgamation of choirs in Devizes for the poignant and beautiful “Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins.

For these performances the FTO has fluctuated in size of orchestra depending on requirements – musicians coming from all over Southern England, and even have included a passing Hungarian cellist. Anthony’s vision always seeks the next, exciting opportunity and this year has seen the birth of the “FTO Big Band”. Cutting its teeth at the “Fulltone Festival” on August bank holiday weekend 2021, now the FTO took its latest progeny back to the Wyvern for its “Big Band Night” on Sunday 21st November.

And what a night it was! Five saxophones (also doubling up on clarinet and flute), four trombones, four trumpets, drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards joined by three female and three male voices crooned and smoothed and belted their way through a cornucopia of delights.   From Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller (who else for a big band night after all?!) to Ella Fitzgerald, Julie Garland and Jackie Wilson numbers. And that was just the first half! The second half kicked off with “The Pink Panther” and “Big Spender” and crooned away deliciously after that with Frank Sinatra, more Judy Garland and even a spot of Marilyn Monroe.

The band, as ever with the FTO, was absolutely spot on. The ever-present Dominic Irving this time left his keyboard and violin at home and whipped out his trumpet (oo err missus!). Louise Cox a persistent FTOer on the drums was her usual impeccable, percussive self. Devizes born and bred Archie Combe tinkled the ivories (I played rugby with his dad y’know!), and Vickie Watson amazed in her juggling of sax, clarinet, and flute throughout the entire show. But its churlish to only mention a few by name, where in fact the entire band were simply amazing. A whole bunch of horns and sax appeal for sure for starters!

And the singers? Well…  I guess they did all right…  😉  Truth be told – of course they were brilliant. Confession time – for those that don’t already know, these people are my friends, and I am honoured to stand on stages with them often. So you can understandably think now “oh well, sycophancy rules, OK” at this juncture. But – everything I write here is true. These people WERE amazing tonight. Truly awesome. Jemma Brown with her consummate ease of poignancy in such numbers as “Ole’ Devil called Love” to power in “Big Spender” and Chris Worthy similarly between “Nightingale sang in Berkley Square” to “Reet Petite”. Then of course Sean Andrews, well known for his strength of projection unsurprisingly absolutely creaming “Luck be a Lady” …  but showing a crooning side with “Come Fly with me”. Then there’s Will Sexton. Well, if you’ve never heard Will you bloody well should. And if you have you will know there are insufficient superlatives available. He calmly, coolly, sang his way through “Blue Moon”, broke hearts with “My Girl” and finished us all off with “Cry Me a River”.

But these were not alone on the stage…  enter stage right Ella Mangham. WHAT A VOICE. Made for this style of music, “Black Coffee” and “Fascinating Rhythm” held us spell bound. Ella had debuted with the FTO Big Band back in the summer, but tonight saw the first appearance of a super young lady – Ruby Phipps. Now Sean had clearly bought his fan club with him as we heard when introduced, but Ruby had family and friends travelling from all over – and no surprise. Sublimely duetting with Jemma on “Get Happy”, “Over the Rainbow” and “The Trolley Song” she lit up the stage with her excellence and grace. Then the whole group appeared as Will completed the evening with – what else? – “My Way” and joined in…  showing that the FTO Big Band truly did this THEIR way, in style, panache and not a little excellence.

What a night. But there’s one more person that deserves a HUGE pat on the back. I’ve mentioned this entire project, from orchestra to big band spin off, is the brainchild of Anthony Brown. But Anthony (a.k.a. O.T but never EVER call him “Tony” !!!) is more than just a M.D. (a.k.a. Musical Director). He is the passion, the life force, the visionary that has produced an orchestra that dares, and now a Band that is truly BIG. He AM da MAN.

So – if you were there tonight and saw it, how lucky were we? And if you weren’t or think I’m just a sycophant for my raving review all I can say is – my eighty-four-year-old mum absolutely loved it. And get a ticket for the next Big Band night and make up your own mind!

Meanwhile – live music is back. And don’t you forget it!


Click for online Christmas Market!

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Devizes Arts Festival’s Soulful Finale

Featured image by Gail Foster

You’d be forgiven for assuming I’m reviewing a greyhound race with this introduction, for akin to snapping open the starting traps, it was a fraction of second after Motown Gold played the inaugural bar of The Temptations’ My Girl at the Devizes Corn Exchange Friday evening, that the first punter broke the dancefloor barrier, and a surfeit of dancers followed his lead.

Usually a summer occasion, Devizes Arts Festival succeeded lockdown’s gap year with this arts festival “lite,” consisting of three main events and a sprinkling of free fringe ones across the town; we’ve never had a November this good. The interim mini-festival came to a soulful finale with six-piece function band Motown Gold, who professionally and passionately delivered some classic soul covers.

Image: Gail Foster

Since day dot Devizes Arts Festival have inundated us with quality original acts, from music, dance, comedy, talks and so much more. To stage a covers function band might well be faced with some reproach, from those who didn’t attend and see the speed the mature audience jumped the dancefloor; call Norris McWhirter, I think we’ve a world record on our hands!

Ha, it’s as if many haven’t had the opportunity to shake their tailfeathers for a year or more, which they haven’t, ergo Devizes Arts Festival in all actual fact, perfectly picked their grand finale, because despite the creativity of originally crafted music, sometimes we all need to throw caution to the wind and dance our cares away to classics we know and cherish.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

The standard model of bassist and lead guitar, drums, keys and one saxophonist, with a female and male singer accepted, because they delivered the songs with wow-factor, onus largely on the magnificent vocal range of both, but in turn the glitzy professionalism and tightness of the band’s bonding. To book Motown Gold for your wedding would end in one heck of a memorable occasion, being a cut sky-high above the average.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

That said, for authenticity of the Motown sound, it was absent of various elements. Backing singers would’ve done wonders, an upfront brass section too, for the saxophonist sounded a smidgen lost without the celebrated trumpeters of Motown’s in-house band, The Funk Brothers. And if it failed to fulfil my “brass-is-class” precept, the one missing component most important is the tambourine of Jack Ashford. Forget modern metronome methods, the tambourine man was the time-keeper in this era of yore, so if you crave authenticity, the tambourine is crucial within a classic soul tribute.

Image: Gail Foster

Entering trainspotting mode, I’d also noted not every song was Motown, rather the band selected a wide-ranging repertoire from Stax to eighties RnB, such as Rufus & Chaka Khan, Sister Sledge, et all. But each one a danceable favourite, and executed with faultless precision, it really didn’t matter one, or even half an iota. So much so, my carping is trivial, I’ll put my handbag away.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

The essence is the pleasing performance, the joyful spirit of the crowd, the lights and eras-spanning retrospection, and it undoubtedly set the Corn Exchange alight with an unforgettable ambience, resulting in a brilliant finale to Devizes Arts Festival’s interim mini-festival, and leaves our jawbone firmly on the floor in anticipation for what they have in store for summer 2022. Though I hinted, they were giving away no secrets yet!

Devizes Arts Festival Team. Image by Gail Foster

If there’s one thing, we all need right now, it’s a good ol’ carefree, soul shakedown party. The proof was in the pudding, a grand night was had, the perfect end to what has been a gratefully welcomed Arts Festival for the town. One which Devizine needs to wrap up with a concluding article encompassing all the events into one feature, but right now, I’m still imagining myself doing watusi like my little Lucy, with the memory of a great night out-out!

Image: Gail Foster

A Grumpy Old Git Guide to The Future of Television

Not that I’m the ideal candidate to provide an assessment on modern trends in television, being it infuriates me as much as it entertains me. Therefore, as I can do grumpy, please accept I’ve titled this a “grumpy old git guide,” and act accordingly; i.e., don’t read this if you wholeheartedly adore every program every television company has ever unashamedly lobbed in your direction, but continue if you’ve ever considered they could’ve done something a tad better. If I submit Strictly Come Dancing, I believe you’ll wish to read on.

In fairness, it would be unfair to rant on Strictly, being I’ve watched more Dale Winterton’s Supermarket Sweep than it, and that equates best in seconds; write about what you know, they say. The bare fact remains, for decades television changed little, save graphical improvements via technology, better presenting skills, and the axing of Crossroads in 1988.

But research, which, though limited, I do do, I note ITV revived this unbelievably dire soap in 2001, and this, in a large part, is symbolic of my first concern. The fact an entire board sat around a table and not one of them thought reviving Crossroads was imprudent, and for want of a more abrasive word, a fucking dumb-ass idea, least they never bravely stood up and said so; twats. The typicality of this coincides with my imagining, that it must be the twentieth anniversary of the day Hollywood officially ran out of ideas.

For here is an era where decisions to control the pandemic slammed the final nail in the coffin for cinemas, crucified going out in general, yet massive advances in home technology was needed, but clearly, and proudly too, an accomplice to the murder. We had no choice but to cave.

There’s an element of self-harm in the movie business, technology governed, it seems. CGI is so overwhelmingly dazzling, having a plot doesn’t appear to be important. But herald in a new era, where we take computer graphics ability to project anything a director could possibly dream onto the screen, as red, and we’ll demand narrative; least that’s the future I hoping, but doubting.

One website suggested TVs of the future will be paper thin, to match the plotlines of the content on them, I’m guessing.

They scramble, clutch straws, despite a blossoming movement of self-publishing, where incredible authors bypass publishers yet are invisible to movie studios. There are millions of new and ingenious plotlines, if you hunt past big publishing houses only content to unleash Stacy Solomon’s ghost-written autobiography, or another infamous disreputable celeb. Too much like effort when money can be raked in with the frightful rehash. Yep, the only conclusion the misers arrive at, is to trash the reputation of a known classic with a remake. And young, naive to the original, and elders revelled in retrospection, amass.

Up to 1937 approximately 750 artists drew over 2 million sketches for Disney’s first full-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film contains more than 250,000 separate pictures, and in June this year, the company announced it would produce a live-action remake, ergo, the monumental task, not to mention the writer’s cramp, of these incredible and unrecognised artists will be binned to a lost archive, forever. That, to me, is a crying shame. And what is above this sacrilege, billions will flock to its side.

So, I’ve discovered the future of visual entertainment, far later than everyone else, and it’s not movies. If you think Devizine is lacking content recently, it’s because I’m going through a lethargic phase, succumbing to television; if you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em. I’ve begun the compulsory mind-numbing practice of modern television viewing, hopeful this era, where despite 999 channels, 99% of it is total crap; Babestation to QVC Shopping, whatever is next? The Tree Channel, the Paint Drying Channel, there’s simply too much choice of shite, the needle in the haystack must be somewhere.

I firmly believe what is next under threat, now cinemas have taken a hit, is the television channel as we know it. Streaming is the new method, and if it leaves one man standing it will be a channel deigned personally to suit you, through recommendations based on previous watching habits. My issue with this is the “series,” a trend hardly original, as like me I’d imagine you grew up with an unmissable series; Trumpton, The Magic Roundabout, I could revel on.

My complaint with this trend, is unlike a movie, no longer does anything ever conclude, unless ratings plummet. A perpetual cycle of endless hour episodes, which, like soap operas of yore, demand you watch tele indefinitely. They glue you to the sofa like nothing before; a success Dallas, Eastenders and Home & Away could’ve only dreamed of. Just how much fucking TV does Cobra Kai, expect me to have to watch, just to find out what happened to the doughnut Danny Larusso kicked the arse of?

I can’t watch that much TV, least dedicate myself to one particular series, no one can, I cry, surely? But of course, they do, they must do. Begging the question, just how much TV do others endure, and in turn, when do they hoover, wash the dishes, etc. I’m gonna need a Fasttrack to Domino’s Pizza if I’m to complete one of these drawn-out series.

What is more, you’ve no outside conversation unless you’re up to date with series eight hundred of Game of Thrones, unless you’re obsessed by some tacky Korean sci-fi series, as if Phillip K Dick was never born. Discuss the current political crisis and you only anger, mention Squid Game and you’re in with the in crowd, despite the uncanny similarities. Why watch Squid Game, when we’ve already got our fair share of cephalopod invertebrates, mostly single-celled, playing games with our lives and projecting their ink sacks over a majority, in our government?

And the bottom line is, no matter what you select on your big screen, work-from-home Dad’s playing catchup on the PC, mum is gossiping on Facebook, son lives inside a Minecraft realm, and with the attention span of a goldfish, daughter flicks furiously through trending homemade disasters on Tick-Tok; no one is actually watching the dammed TV! Maybe the reason why plotlines are inconsequential.

So, my bittersweet honeymoon with the modern TV series begun a few years ago, when they stretched the plot of Westworld to its death. The 1973 movie with Yul Brynner, where a western theme park’s robots malfunction had a plot which took director Michael Crichton under an hour-and-half to conclude, and while exceptionally well produced and enjoyable at first, the series dragged on like a conversation with Uncle Albert. I endured it through season one, but by the end, knowing the synopsis anyway, I grew tiresome of the trifling twists and turns. It never came to a natural finale, concluding I only continued to watch it for the nudie bits.

If Westworld put me off the whole shebang of the seemingly endless series, Manifest reinforced this notion. Intrigued by extra-terrestrial themes since ET, it came with a mystery one couldn’t help but be eager to know the reasoning for a plane’s disappearance and reappearance some years later. It was clear as time went on, though I suspected alien abduction, and many clues suggested thus, it wouldn’t explain itself until an insurmountable number of episodes, which by the first few my patience worn as thin as my diminishing fringe.

It was when the family randomly picked a series called Resident Alien, my enthusiasm elevated to the stars. Finally, here was something which engaged the whole family, laughing, at sci-fi, together, like Futurama had never been created. The difference here though, I assess, is we started at the premiere, so impatiently await the second series, rather than others where I tend to play catchup and maybe, I fear, it’s not the series itself, but me, and my viewing habits, bad viewing habits. Because while my daughter can effectively “binge” watch, I begin the process in good faith and promptly abandon the idea, like being forced against my will to run a marathon; I’d be cool with it for the first twenty metres, then I’m out by the sight of the first pub I pass.

Destined to find the right series to engage my dwarfed attention span, I tried Peaky Blinders, but peaked too soon; aborted on episode one. Engaging the Trekkie within, I assimilated myself into Star Trek Discovery at warp speed, and it managed to boldly go where no modern TV series had gone before, resistance to the entire three seasons was successful, though it reduced me to tears, to watch a promising retro series dwindle to some future so sadly farfetched and predicable, a little piece of Dilithium popped into my mouth and went back down.

Herein lies my newfound faith in TV, at the dawn of a family decision to get the Disney+ app, I’d begun The Crown just a week prior, gulp and confess I’m loving it. Rich in British history, portrayed ingeniously and eloquently, debatably accurate as it maybe, it’s nearly converted me, once antimonarchist into an ardent royalist; I said nearly, and only from my respect of the eleventh doctor, Matt Smith and by a fascination with secretly snogging lead actress, Claire Foy wrapped in nothing but a Union Jack on the grasslands of Sandringham; have I got a crush on the Queen now? How devilishly patriotic of me.

But with access to Star Wars’ Mandalorian, you see, I sworn to myself I’d finish the first series before starting this, but the greatest of temptations perverted the promise, a Jedi mind-trick no doubt, and now I’m in galaxy far, far away, with baby Yoda(!), as well as part of Buckingham Palace’s furniture. That’s why I’m writing this now, proud to be balancing two series at once, which I fully intend to complete both, even if I brain haemorrhage; as if men really could multitask. 

Though it’ll be hard to confuse the two, the lives of our royal family are similarly as far away from my own as that of the Mandalorian. It seems to me, whenever times get hard for the royals, which inevitably they do, I’ll admit there’s some real tough decisions and stressful situations, larger and more concerning than anything I’d ever have to overcome, at least they can, as they tend to do, ride across their vast green and pleasant private land on a gallant white stud. The economic equivalent for me would be to hire a pig and bare-back ride it in circles around the back garden, which simply doesn’t have quite the same impact.

Television is the convenient escapism for vegetables, unlike the internet being a reality-driven fingertip encyclopaedia for prospective nerds, and for this reason the merger of the two will undoubtedly change them both. Whether Hollywood steps up its game, the TV series trend continues, nothing can alter the DIY ethos of the very thing which threatens them both. For I really fear none of this makes one iota when considering the affluence of homemade videos, and how this attracts the youth more than the definitive CGI explosion, which is old hat by comparison. And that’s something I simply don’t get, I’m afraid, something so far-flung from my expectations of normal and decent viewing.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-publisher, always been washed up on the banks of an underworld of DIY creativity, be it vanity, I don’t know why, but I genuinely understand the desire of every kid to be a “YouTuber,” I just don’t get the content. Tick-Tok is no-man’s-land for anyone over twenty, yet a glimpse of what they do appears on YouTube and Facebook, enough for me to shudder at its true horror. It saddens me when an amazing band are live streaming, playing the music they worked so hard to create, to an audience of six, meanwhile some brat is streaming his screen playing Grand Theft Auto, consisting of running around a city as a female avatar, punching random strangers in the street, to an audience of 99K+. Philosophical argument aside, I’d play devil’s advocate and suggest perhaps it’s better them act violently virtually than really, but more so, my mind boggles, why the bloody hell would anyone want to watch someone play a videogame, when the whole concept of videogames are a universe away from watching TV, rather about immersing oneself into the game?

That said, Minecraft YouTubers have made a mint, advising gameplay to younger disciples, and some do it in such a way it’s as entertaining as a TV presenter, Graham Norton at the very least. And if it’s not this, it’s titillating trending videos on sites like Tick-Tock, a phishing so-called magician turned prankster, with an abundance of micro-bikini-clad girls, more bikini-clad girls swapping their outfits in the street without exposing themselves, or where the latest trend seems to be young girls wearing a baggy tee, which is a t-shirt to you and I, and over a backdrop of bass, suddenly pulling their top tight around their stomach and boobs. If you ask why, I really haven’t a clue, but hundreds upon hundreds of girls are queuing to get hits for their lightly covered tits; would you even know about it if was your kid? Whop-bang, I’m suddenly aged and completely out of touch with modern viewing, perplexed and mystified, other than to assume it’s the lowest common denominator of soft porn.

And that is the terror of the future of television, endless blipverts of insane youngsters doing whatever they feel like, and videoing it, incriminating themselves via peer pressure.

A mile away from sending your toddler off the shed roof to obtain £250 from Harry Hill, for that’d be relatively sane compared to some of the complete codswallop I see passing my social media newsfeed every second of everyday. It leaves me suspended in an era I’m lost with, and with great worry, this reality piffle is the future of television, rather than an extended series of fictional mush. Bring back Crossroads, for fuck’s sake; all is forgiven!


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And the Winner of our Gary Delaney Competition is….

And there we have it, our competition to win two tickets to Gary Delaney at the Corn Exchange has come to closing date for entries; don’t say I didn’t warn you, cos I did.

I must say I was disappointed more people didn’t respond, somewhat more than the standard of the one liner jokes! I sent the one liner jokes to Gary himself, and asked him to judge. It makes us look bad, Devizes, honest it does. Given the strength of the quality of the jokes, he is going to think he’s in for an easy ride!

I’m horrified to inform you; Gary’s response was a shocker. Mr Lee Bennett, sir, Gary duly points out your entry may not have been entirely from your own catalogue of wit. Be honest now, Lee, how do you plead to the crime of property theft?! You don’t need to reply, you’ve been tried and convicted already, as Gary wrote that the winner is “your” joke, “for having the chutzpah to submit my old jokes into a joke competition in order to win tickets to see me perform new ones!”

Well done, mate, you won on default, supposing I’d didn’t stress the joke had to be original, because, you know, thought that’d be obvious. Whoever did write the masterpiece though, it did make me chuckle;

My mate had a penis extension…

Now his house looks really stupid

And that’s the best medicine. See you all at Gary Delaney’s gig in May; tickets are still up for grabs but selling like hot cakes: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/devizes-comedy

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Local Bands Ramp Up the Volume on Bradford-on-Avon’s Skatepark Campaign

Bradford on Avon Gig Will Help Raise Funds for New Skate Park

A three-band fundraising gig to help fund a new skate park in Bradford on Avon, Sk8er Noize – Get on Board, is announced for Friday 22 October at the town’s St Margaret’s Hall. Promising to raise the roof as well as a cash contribution towards the park, the night of music and dancing will be headlined by fast-and-furious local legends, The Boot Hill All Stars, supported by popular rock covers band Pseudocrem, plus singer and guitarist Neil Ryles opening the show. Doors and bar open 7.30pm. Tickets are £5 and available from The Wiltshire Music Centre.

The new skate park is designed by Maverick Industries, creators of some of the best and most progressive parks in the UK and using input from local skaters and young people. It will cost around £280,000 and Bradford on Avon Town Council have set aside £100,000 for the venture. The pot of additional publicly raised cash currently stands at around £30,000 and the gig hopes to add a chunk to that.

The state-of-the-art facility will replace the skate park which was demolished after being vandalised and falling into disrepair. In 2018 the young people of Bradford on Avon began campaigning for a safe and inclusive space to skate board as well as for BMX and scooter riders of all ages and abilities. The new park, finally agreed in 2020, will be at the same site as the previous one, forming part of a redevelopment of the whole Poulton Park site.

The event is organised by local parents, including Mick Stanger who plays guitar and electric mandolin with The Boot Hill All Stars, who have played everywhere from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival to Bradford’s very own Three Horseshoes pub. “From the first song they get the whole crowd up dancing, whooping and getting on down. By the time they bow out with a breakneck Jolene, they’re practically hollering from the rafters.” (Ollie Hulme, Wells May Fayre). 

Mick said: “We always like to support local causes where we can, and are really excited to play our part in the Skate Park project – maybe you’ll see some of us learning to skate on it in a few years’ time!”  Mick’s daughter Beth, aged 12, said: “I’m really excited by the plans for a skate park, it’s been a long time since we had somewhere to skate and it will be great for the local community. I love the idea of a fundraising gig, especially since it gives a spotlight to local bands.”

Boot Hill All Stars

Vocalist Neil Ryles will start the night off with your favourite indie covers followed by classic rock and pop from Pseudocrem, made up of local parents and 15-year-old guitar prodigy Alex Maidment.


Win 2 Free Tickets HERE

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Local Happenings for October 2021

Unlike the enviably of the weather, events don’t seem to be cooling down this fall. There’s lots of great things happening over the month of October, find something local, and save fighting for petrol, so much going on around and about, remember to keep checking Devizine’s event calendar, as it’s constantly updating, but here’s some highlights. 

The month kicks off on a Friday, when Humdinger play The Barge Inn, Honey Street for a Woodborough Primary School Fundraiser. It’ll be an evening of Irish folk down Devizes’ Southgate, where The Celtic Roots Collective will be, and Saints of Sin play Swindon’s Vic.

Saturday 2nd, our superheroine Carmela Chillery-Watson’s mum, Lucy has written a children’s book staring her daughter and pet dog Tinker, with all proceeds going to Muscular Dystrophy UK. They’ll be signing at Devizes Books from 10:30am. Carmela is making a big splash in the celeb world, winning awards, TV appearances and meeting royalty and of course, David Beckham too! We can all be inspired by her zest, fundraise towards muscular dystrophy, and have fun too, I will talk more about this when a bit further down, when we get to the appropriate, exciting weekend.  

October at The Post-Modern Gallery, on Swindon’s Theatre Square, sees an irresistible exhibition for punks, general music or art aficionados, and devotees of the curious and unusual, The Great Rock N Roll Swindon. Running from the 2nd – 10th.

Meanwhile, at The Wharf Theatre, James Hurn brings to life three classic epis, odes from the much-loved radio series, The Navy Lark, which ran for 1959-1977 which originally featured Leslie Phillips, Dennis Price, Ronnie Barker and Jon Pertwee.

Devizes Long Street Blues Club have Jimmy Carpenter, Half Way House play Seend Community Centre. Catfish Creek with support from Finley Trusler & Mark Jones play the Coate Mini Music Festival at The New Inn, Coate, and Tool Shed play Swindon’s Vic.

And if that’s not enough for one weekend, Jon Amor plays with King Street Turnaround at the Bell in Bath from 1pm, promising to make it home to the Southgate by 5pm on Sunday 3rd.

The second week in is Marlborough Mop Fair, starting Friday 8th, and again the following weekend, as is the tradition. The Lonely Road Band & Hamsters from Hell are live at The Vic on the Friday. Saturday 9th sees Retrospective Vol 2 @ MECA, an old skool RnB night with Mr M at the Exchange in Devizes, staying there I’d thoroughly recommend Strange Folk at The Southgate, and tickets are already flying off the shelf for the first Devizes Scooter Club night at the Cons Club with The Killertones.

Around and about, got to recommend the wonderful indie-popper, Longcoats, with a free gig at Bath’s Devonshire Arms, on the Saturday, and Led in Zeppelin at Swindon’s Vic, which I think explains itself! Yet, while we’re on the fabulous Vic, the brilliant dub project of Erin Bardwell, Subject A will be live, with DJs in support on Sunday 10th, and this will be amazing.

During the week, find The Waterboys playing Swindon’s MECA on Wednesday 13th, and a welcomed return of Marlborough Folk Roots club, who have While and Matthews. Thursday 14th sees the Sultans of Swingers at The Dumb Post in Bremhill.

Another Marlborough Mop Fair weekend upon us, Friday 15th is a lot about Sheer Music, who present Jon Gomm at Emmanuel’s Yard, Trowbridge with support from the lovely Lost Trades. Ian Rayney is at Seend Community Centre, An Evening with Froch & Groves at MECA, and Abstraction Engine with Lunatics Lost are live at The Vic, Swindon.

Saturday 16th is filled with wonderful choice, The Full Tone Orchestra give a classical fireworks concert at Marlborough College, there’s Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show at The Wharf Devizes, and Asa Murphy returns to the Corn Exchange with a variety show including comedian Lennie Anderson and singer Sandy Collins.

General silliness abounds, and in a hip-hop style, at The Old Road Tavern in Chippenham, where local comedy musicians The Real Cheesemakers go head-to-head with Brighton’s chap-hop star Professor Elemental, hosted by Chippenham’s own Edinburgh Fringe favourite, Will Hodgson; this will be a great crack.

Sheer Music Presents moves over to Swindon, to present outrageous punker girl band, Salem at the Vic.

But I will be in the Sham for sure, where the all-female supergroup, Female of the Species give their annual, unmissable fundraising gig. Something of a local legend this event, receiving a community Civic Award and raising so much money, having a great laugh with a seriously awesome line-up of singers from a plethora of local bands, and this year, as I hinted at prior, is raising money for another hero friend of mine, Carmela Chillery-Watson.

Swindon’s MECA has Raver Tots on Sunday 17th, where you take your child raving! But for want of a quieter event, there’s an illustrated talk by Tim Craven at Marlborough Town Hall about cartoonist Norman Thelwell on Wednesday.

Saturday 23rd, then, three band extravaganza Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes with Pussycat, The Dirty Johnson’s and Kiss me, Killer. The Civic in Trowbridge have Mercury, the Queen Tribute but overall, all seems much quieter than last weekend. Of course, gigs will come flooding in soon I’m sure, so check into our event calendar for updates. You can be sure of those dependable venues, such as The Southgate, The Vic, Horseshoes, Pound Arts and Trowbridge Town Hall will be adding events as we go along, or maybe I’ve got some serious updating to do!

Monday 25th sees the opening of Glorious! The true story of Florence Foster Jenkins at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes which runs until 30th October. Friday 29th From The Jam play MECA, and White Horse Opera are back in full force with A Night at The Ops at Devizes Town Hall.

Saturday 30th sees Devizes Lions Autumn Fair at the Corn Exchange. Billy Bremner’s Rockfile at the Long Street Blues Club, and being Halloween, there’s sure to be some spooky parties going on, try the Three Horseshoes in Bradford-on-Avon, where Strange Folk offer a Halloween Extravaganza, or Swindon’s Swiss Chalet which has Train to Skaville, The DayBreakers and The Hip Replacements.

Have a great Octoberfest, don’t let the bastards grind you down, if you need fuel, just post on your local Facebook group that some other nearby petrol station has fuel, and your path to the pump will be free! Oh, last Sunday of the month, check below, Devizes Town Band at the Corn Exchange, so much to do, it never stops!


Win 2 Tickets HERE

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Remembering Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum

Okay, given the news of the sad passing of Sir Clive Sinclair last week, guaranteed you’ll see lots of photos of him in his scarf, peddling to charge his C5, the innovative electric car of the future. Like few of his inventions, mini televisions included, the C5 flopped, simply because it was way ahead of its time. His successful inventions were too. Sir Clive Sinclair was way ahead of time, period.

If there’s one invention, I’ll fondly remember him for, though, it’s not the C5 but can only be the rubber-keyed ZX Spectrum, or “Speccy,” as we dubbed it. Sinclair never sat on a creation; his pocket calculator was only the beginning. To understand the importance of his work is to understand the era. It was a time of great technological advances in home entertainment, the like we take for granted today.

Computers, yeah, we knew of them, but to have one in every home was the stuff of science fiction. Personal computers had made it to schools, yet IT was a far cry from how it’s taught today. Picture it: a nervous beatnik throwback teacher, big black-rimmed specs, big perm, big beard, complete with leather elbow patches on his tweed jacket. He acknowledges this is the future, as he stands next to a shiny new BBC Model B and hoards of pupils gather around it, yet he’s had no training, and he doesn’t really know what the heck it does any more than they do.

To have gained the slightest teaching about computers at primary school in the early eighties was to be the most bolshy kid, who managed to push his way to the front of the over-excited class. I didn’t tick that box, shy and reserved I loitered towards the back of the crowd, interested if confused, I considered myself lucky to have just seen the thing from a distance, through the pigtails of a petite girl standing in front of me.

No, if I was ever going to get to grips with the computer, I’d need to have one at home. Yet the ZX80 and ZX81 were the stuff of the seventies, a naff era void of motivation to progress technologically for working class families; a time when the teas-made and electric blanket were cutting edge. Here, in the technological revolution of 1982, what we needed, what we must have, was a home computer, and my dad finally caved into our merciless campaign of perpetually chanting, “can we have a spectrum, dad, can we have a spectrum?”

The pitch was successful on the grounds we appealed it would be a communal thing; it would help my dad by filing his bills, finances and address book, the possibilities were endless; it would, change our lives forever. Christmas 1982 was like no other, the joint present was hooked up to the television set, after major muddles, frustrating cries from my father and annoyed reactions from my mum who realised her favourite television shows were off the cards until the trend had passed.

Mum was first to breech the covenant, hiding in the kitchen prepping Brussel sprouts. She came to the early conclusion it was the devil’s work, if Crossroads was to be missed. My father persevered, and after sweat and tears we finally had a grey screen on our television with the copyright text, “1982 Sinclair Research Ltd,” mysteriously running along the bottom. We had, as a family, entered the computer age, all 48K of it, our wants and dreams had been fulfilled, but what to do next and why we needed to do it, was a gaping mystery.

Hard to imagine now, given operating systems like Windows are common knowledge and upon booting up a new PC, you’re off applying apps and downloading programs, but we didn’t have a clue what to do, and the lone copyright message offered no help. A big orange book came with it, and my dad tilted his glasses and begun to at least attempt to understand it, while my brother and I were far too excited.

The problem was, to get it to do anything, anything at all, was to understand its own brand of Basic, which the book elucidated was a “computer language.” A bead of perspiration dripped from my dad’s brow at the thought of having to comprehend a whole new language prior to us kids getting bored with this rather expensive Christmas present.

A command prompt was where we started. Under instruction of the book, dad apprehensively trembled and pushed a key, typing a 1. Before the hour was done, he had got the computer to have captured “10: PRINT “HELLO,” followed by a second command, “20: GOTO 10.” And we looked at each other perplexed. When were we going to get to shoot aliens?

You see, dad had bought us kids two games of our choosing. Mine being a Pac-Man pastiche called “Haunted Hedges,” whereas my brother was nearly as bonkers about “Horace,” as he would be Lara Croft in the decade which followed, and his choice was one where “Horace Goes Skiing.” Young-‘uns should note, games those days were on cassette, and dad was some way away from attaching the cassette recorder to the Spectrum. Rather, he insisted above our pleas, we did things by the book and attempt to understand how to work the now blasted thing prior to blasting aliens.

Time was of the essence; the Morcombe & Wise Christmas Special would be airing soon, and Mum would consider human existence was doomed if he didn’t manage to rewire the television back to the aerial and tune it in again. He digested the next page of the book, and confidently pressed the R key, for the function RUN. Like magic the tele changed to list the word “hello” all the way down the screen. We gaped in awe at his success, whatever exactly it was. “Look!” he cried in jubilation and misunderstanding the computer was merely following the prompt of his command, his first computer program, “it’s saying hello to us!!”

As 1982 turned into 1983 my father had grasped the immensity of the task, his desire to have the computer do the things which he wanted it to do, to file and store an address book, set bill payment reminders, and the kind of stuff we’d do in a second on our mobile phones today, was too difficult a chore. Wrought with complications and complexities at learning a whole new trick, a language to unify human and computer, he spaced out on it and gave up. The ZX Spectrum was abandoned for parents, he sighed all the way to Radio Rentals, hired a second TV, put the old one upstairs and reluctantly passed the computer to us kids, to play games; the sole thing we really wanted it for in the first place.

The key to this was, that cartridges for the Atari 2600 we had prior were expensive, to buy a new game was a rare treat. The revolution of having games on cassette tape made them affordable, and we could collect them in abundance. This bought about a youth culture; Speccy was the first video game movement. You could swap games, tape-to-tape copy them, and if and when the damn tape loaded without crashing, the half-hour wait of white noise would fulfil you with the joy of a new game.

And there was a plethora of games of varying quality, but all shaped the formulas of games today even if they didn’t reflect the same graphics, speed and game play. You have Sonic the Hedgehog, we had Sabre Wulf, you had Tekken, we had Way of the Exploding Fist, you have Super Mario Odyssey, we had Donkey Kong, you have Little Big Planet, we had Bubble Bobble, you have Grand Theft Auto, we had Back 2 Skool, and you have Minecraft, and erm, okay you got me there, we were still on Lego…. But you get the idea.

Speccy was a youth culture of video games, magazines on the subject flew off shelves, kids would hang outside a computer shack in our town, boasting how they solved Jet Set Willy, despite it being impossible without “pokes,” (cheats.) You could go there for advice, if stuck in Valhalla, or Spy Hunter didn’t load. This was the first social network for gamers. Comprehend, though, online gaming was reduced to asking your mum if your mate Adam can come into play, and only permitted if he took his muddy trainers off at the door.

Educating through it was limited, but it introduced me to the terminology, to basic programming and how to create simple BIT graphics and it made me realise the wealth of maths, even if I was shit at it. I knew what a modem was, something way beyond reach, but least I was aware two computers could be linked via a telephone line. Fascinated by an article predicting one day many computers could be linked into a network, only on the example of a virtual classroom, so we wouldn’t have to go to school. I never fathomed this would happen in my lifetime, never considered the interactive whiteboard, the mobile phone app, and especially virtual reality.

As with all devises, the ZX Spectrum waned against upcoming videogame consoles, as the eighties came to a close focus was on Sega’s Megadrive and a 48K rubber-keyed processer, less powerful than a Tamagotchi would never stay standing. Not without a fight it was slayed, but every devise has its day.

Personally, the magic of both computers and videogames was replaced by raves, pubs, and hopelessly chasing girls. I bought a PlayStation when the price came down, it just collected dust. Bit of a hippy, I shunned technology for a while, forgetting everything I’d learned to the point of when discussing the idea of photocopying my first comic, and my flatmate, who was the editor of a Swindon music zine earlier in the nineties, suggested “no, print will be dead, it will all be on the wobbly web one day,” I hadn’t a clue what she was dribbling about.  

The thing is, this era, where the TV streams off Netflix yet no one’s really watching, as I’m updating my blog, the wife is paying a bill on her iPad, my daughter’s sharing photos on her Insta and my son is logged into a Minecraft server with twenty other mates, what Sir Clive Sinclair achieved maybe lost in time, but I feel is gravely underestimated. His name should be up there with Charles Baggage, Alan Turing, Bill Gates and Tim Berners-Lee. Without his vision of home computers, life would be very different today.

Sinclair should be remembered as a visionary, pioneer and innovator, a concept designer like Apple, as today it’s hard to imagine a life without home computing, even if it’s updating your status to post a picture of some cute, fluffy cats. Let’s not dwell on images of him in a failed electric vehicle, he was more than that, and besides, one day our laughing at the C5 will return to bite us in the ass!

Pumpkins & Poppies with Devizes Town Band

In six weeks, the historic Devizes Town Band will be performing at their first indoor concert for two years!

On Sunday 31st October, Devizes Town Band are thrilled to be bringing to you a very special ‘Poppy’ Concert supporting the Royal British Legion; “Pumpkins and Poppies”

An afternoon of beautiful and entertaining music, to celebrate on Hallowe’en being able to perform again and to remember those who served, those who live with the consequences of conflict and those who paid the ultimate price. The concert will be held in the Corn Exchange, Devizes. Doors open at 2pm and the performance will start at 2:30pm.

All seats will be socially distanced and the building is fully air conditioned. Tickets are £10 each and available online via the link below from today!

You can also get them from the lovely Jo at Devizes Books. We Will Remember Them. Come along to our concert and remember them too….


Win 2 Tickets; Click Here!

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Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Unique exhibition to open at Wiltshire Museum

Featured Image: The Westbury White Horse © Towner Eastbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exhibition ends on 30 January 2022.


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Help Choose a Charity For A Fundraising Music Event in Devizes….

A prestigious live music gig is being planned for Devizes. Top secret, if I spill anymore beans about it they’d be forced to shoot me, and I know you wouldn’t want that…..would you?

I thought not, not even if they just skimmed my kneecap with a spud-gun?

But what you can help the organisers decide is, what local non-profit charity would you want this event to fundraise for, should it go ahead?

I’ve added some worthy charities, but you can add your own if you wish. Please give us your feedback asap, takes a second, thank you! And yes, I’ll tell you all about when the time comes, just, like push me, man!

Absolutely Pukka; Death of Guitar Pop

It’s top marks for the Death of Guitar Pop duo, Silky and Top Kat, for their new album, Pukka Sounds, from me; did you expect anything less?!

In 1976 Bunny Wailer titled his debut solo album, “Blackheart Man,” that being a Jamaican version of the bogeyman. Perhaps he likened the mysteriousness of Rastafarians to this childhood fable, for prior to the Kingston trend, which we associate so closely with reggae, the Rastas were rural hermits, seen as dangerous outsiders. The sound of the time of the Wailers’ early development was ska, and had little to do with religious or political thinking. It was a dance, untroubled and carefree.

Yet by the second wave of ska, initiated by Coventry’s Two-Tone Records, groups like the Specials bought about a political stance to ska too. After a tinkering second of piano, sounding like the beginning of a Who rock opera, Pukka Sounds explodes, rightfully quoting their influences, “we play Two-Tone Records, Trojan Records.” Yet for me, the crucial line of “When the Ska Calls,” is “it’s the nuttiest of feelings,” a clear reference to Madness.

If mod and second gen ska was the concluding inclination of pop, prior to the hit factories churning out their monotonous formula, I was slightly too young to appreciate the solemn concepts bands like The Specials and Jam put forward. Merely a wee school kid, couldn’t relate to the teenage anguish of dogmatic student rants, or Terry Hall’s and exasperations at his sister. I thought the Jam were singing, “eating trifles,” rather than “Eton Rifles,” as in, “great trifle, mum!” “Thank you, Paul, I made your favourite flavour…. glue.”

But the underground youth culture had been breached; Bad Manners, The Piranhas, The Beat, Fun Boy Three, and especially Madness aimed at the charts. “Walking home and squashing snails,” was more relevant to me and my mates, than “bands don’t play no more,” ergo the resounding and lasting success of Madness above all others of the era.

It is of no bad thing then, the most appropriate comparison to Death of Guitar Pop can only be Madness, for their fairground sound was not just universally appealing, but reflected more on the original ethos of ska, as a carefree dance music. Death of Guitar Pop mimic this tenet, with bells, horns and chequered trilbies on.

I’m struggling then, to find anything serious about Pukka Sounds, and that’s its charm. Silky begins the second tune in with lounge style vocals, which has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Tongue-in-cheeks all the way through, I’d give Death of Guitar Pop takes Madness’s wittiest lateral to a whole new level, with tunes like Fell off the back of a Lorry, their jaunty Essex-boy humour is exposed, and comes over highly entertaining.

Perhaps the best track, for nodding to influences beyond Madness is The Death of Guitar Pop Shuffle, with the legendary Nick Welsh, aka King Hammond, for here’s a tune which recognises ska’s origins from the shuffle subgenre of RnB, the likes of T-Bone Walker and Fats Domino, replicated but reversed by Prince Buster at a Duke Reid recording sessions, to create “Jamacia’s first nation sound.”   

Nods also go to reggae though, the pedigree “boss sound” distributed by Trojan in sixties England, which appeased the skinhead culture. I tip my hat to them for the track, For Alys, as a concentrated downtempo number without their comical toasting; their own The Return of The Los Palmas 7?

Bobby Dazzler, a Pukka Ballad, too, both challenging an anthemic hopeless romantic theme, naturally beer-driven last song ballads.

But, at best, Guitar Pop reveal in these beguiling ska and upbeat boss tunes with comical, carefree leitmotifs and nonsensical fun, like Captain Melvin’s Reggae Party Bus, and a cover of ska-punk band, Rancid’s Junkie Man, the aforementioned exactness to the ethos of Madness being the reason these guys have rocketed to the top of their game, in just three albums.

The array of ska nuttiness is reborn here, and the party doesn’t wait for those held up in the kitchen, the album marches, the sax on The Velvet Drum particularly evoking memories of Lee Thompson flying over rooftops.  

For anyone with deliberations British ska is mislaid, home only to withering skinheads of a lost epoch, this deluxe edition of Pukka Sounds is eighteen original tracks strong, released yesterday, and it places England firmly back on the ska map amidst a universal scene. But more than this, their charisma is a beacon calling out to others, who may only have a passing interest in the movement. I urge, if you shrug at my consistent praise of ska, you’ve not tried Death of Guitar Pop, and really, you should. Then come back and tell me you didn’t least tap your toes, all the way to Southend pier and back, geeza!

Why? Need you ask why? Because, ska is the bollocks….


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Full-Tone Orchestra Give It What’s For!

As the norm now is phones held high above the crowds, as us elders once did with lighters, they capture the moment on film. But I’m neglecting the trend to record wobbly, intoxicated videos, as they never do justice to the sound. There is no local event in which this is truer than yesterday’s Full-Tone Festival, because there’s simply no sound quite as immense and impacting as a full orchestra, despite my juvenile perceptions of it, of which I contemplate exactly how Full-Tone has turned this on its head…

If what Pete Tong did with his Heritage Orchestra was clever, it wasn’t entirely original. As a nipper I’d laugh at my dad, when he’d play his “Hooked on Classics” long player. Snickered because futurism had gone audio in the early eighties, rendering the mere word “orchestra” lame in our adolescent minds.

Though classical purists got their knickers in a twist that ELO arranger Louis Clark was conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra using a LinnDrum drum machine, it reintroduced classical music to a new generation. And when they released “Hooked on Rock Classics,” into the series, dad was well and truly off on one; thank heavens we hadn’t progressed to a cassette deck in the Ford Cortina yet!

But if I laughed at him, misunderstanding the richness of classical music in an era of synth, post-punk electronica, I had a dirty secret of my own. Upstairs us kids had a record deck of our own, on which I would slip on a 1978 Geoff Love album, “Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Other Disco Galactic Themes,” which, as the title suggests, Love’s orchestra breathed disco into John Williams movie scores. I was consciously side-stepping the datum, this was also created by an orchestra, for want of my own Star Wars-fevered fascination with all things sci-fi.

In reminiscing about the album, as I roughly fell out of bed this morning, it progressed to thinking of the obsession the characters had with the shape of Crook County’s Devil’s Tower in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of The Third Kind, enough to sculpt it out mashed potato. For I suspect folk of Devizes will awaken this morning with a similar subconscious obsession for an irregular arch shape, rather like the photo below!

Like the character Roy Neary, have you the discomforting desire to make a return to the site of this strange shape, like an unwarranted pilgrimage?! If so, you were an attendee of The Full-Tone Festival yesterday, and it’s perfectly natural and understanding to have been captivated by its shear magnificence. And in the history of events in Devizes, the magnitude of what The Full-Tone Orchestra achieved yesterday will forever be imprinted.

Yeah, I know, right, it came with a price-tag, one which objectors were not discouraged from doing as they threatened, and pitching chairs on the Little Green opposite to admire the happening from afar. Unfortunately, while you could hear it tingling as far away as Morrisons carpark, if you did this you did not get the full capacity or benefit of said magnificence. The acoustics up close to the funnelled stage was something extraordinary, with superior pyrotechnics the lasers and light show was professional standard and truly, locally unique. This competence alone, fairly showed where your money had been wisely spent.

It was a vast evolutionally step from the free event in the Market Place a couple of years ago. If the all-positive feedback from the crowds wasn’t enough to convince you, the delighted expression of artistic director, Jemma Brown said it all. I caught up with her for a brief word, where we discussed the logistics of the actual orchestra, explaining to me there were some sixty-five musicians onstage at any one time, ninety-five operating over the weekend, some of who played the entire shebang, while others swapped on a rota. A monumental operation, which as a punter appeared to function like clockwork.

I did, back in the spring, not include this event in a piece highlighting local festivals hopefully going ahead, and this bought an objection online which I justified under my definition of the word “festival” being an event with multiple happenings by a variety of artists and performers, ergo making this more concert than festival, and I stick by my justification. Although, while it was one “act” said act was manyfold, bringing in a wealth of musicians, plus side stalls were adequate to warrant this of festival proportions, and today, Sunday, the show will host some other acts, including Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats, jazz singer Archie Combe and The Red Bandits. So, yeah, all that is debatable, but one thing for sure, whatever you want to pigeonhole this event as, there’s no denying, it was fantastic.

Beginning with classical, they marched through Gershwin, Holst et all with unrivalled passion, and swiftly moved onto iconic movie themes, which despite my aforementioned adoration for eighties sci-fi, I found the Jurassic Park theme the most poignant, its ambience hung in the air as the chitchat and everyday goings-on sustained, like a T-Rex invasion was looming on Devizes Green!

Eighties classic pop arrived around dinnertime, I returned to the scene to shudder at Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, though while this may not be my idea of eighties classic pop, given the diverse age demographic I digest many here didn’t live through it, and such a hit was defensible because of this! But tracks by Bowie, Blondie and Toto were welcomed, particularly Chris Underwood’s vocals on Ultravox’s Vienna.

If the eighties section bought about eagerness of post-lockdown dancers, the crowd flocked to the stage for the finale as dusk set in over a warm evening. Time for our Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra contrast, as the stage blew the sky high and hands were raised for this explosive climax of their hailed dance and club classics. And yes, if you picked me out of the darkness, I was giving it some like I was twenty again, with a bunch of twenty-somethings who were never there to witness the rave revolution first-hand, which was remarkable, if something of a tribulation these, what were considered at the time, throw-away tunes in the natural passage of progression, age has become me and these are now “classics” too!

Ah, well, you can’t stop the hands of time, just enjoy it while it lasts, and you can still get tickets on the door for today’s Fulltone Music Festival, on a first come, first served basis, just head on over to the entrance, by the traffic lights on Nursteed Road.

The Full-Tone orchestra really raised the bar of local events last night, if you missed it, there’s still time to catch up. And, I’d advise, if you did attend yesterday, have baked potatoes rather than mash today!


Please click here and buy our wonderful compilation album of local music, in aid of Julia’s House

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Gull Able

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

What’s Happening in September?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good September!


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