Thirty Years a Raver: Part 5: The Final Frontier

“If you’re hanging on to a rising balloon, you’re presented with a difficult decision – let go before it’s too late or hang on and keep getting higher, posing the question: how long can you keep a grip on the rope? They’re selling hippie wigs in Woolworth’s, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.”

Danny from Withnail and I.

I could read back on last week’s part of this series; definitely donning my designer rose-tinted specs. For it was our rave honeymoon, and we had not a care in the world. We partied, that was it. Ignoring the government ousted their iron lady, the first war for oil had escalated from Operation Desert Shield, and tensions were raging in Northern Ireland, we partied. We partied until the cows come home, and if they did come home, to find twenty thousand madcap ravers gyrating in their field, well, we’d have worked around them, and carried on the party.

If I recounted the incident at the Banbury rave, with the careless driver taking heed of a crusty and significantly slowing down, someone on a Facebook group, DOCU FREE PARTY ERA 1990-1994 – WERE YOU THERE? reminded me of a tragic 1991 rave on Roundway Hill, near to my now hometown of Devizes. A young girl was seriously injured when a car run her over as she laid in long grass. An aide-memoire, not everything that glitters is gold.

Myself, I didn’t attend it. So myopic, my vision extended no further than my own perception of the movement, naïvely assuming because I saw no issue, I could freely wheel-off my illicit activities to my old folks, and they’d be content. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it the same way, family tensions reached a peak, so I steered clear of the party that particular weekend; mates filled me in on the upsetting details.

To push aside the parties, and think back to 1991 with clarity, it was a terrible year for me. I went into it with a girlfriend, a part-time job and place in art college. By the end of it I was filled with teenage anguish, lost girlfriend, job and was kicked out of college. The only truly fond memories were the parties, but Autumn was settling, raves continued, but as winter fell it waned.

A party on New Year’s Eve would, in later years be my only winter cert, the rest fell into hibernation. But I’m struggling to recall what I did for it in 1991. We awaited 1992, assuming it will be the same, but bigger, better, and at the beginning, you’d have been fooled into thinking it would be so. 1992 vastly differed.

Schemes to detect and prevent raves had stepped up a notch, as police waivered serious crime to focus on averting people having illegal fun. They put their foot down at the prospect of Hungerford common being invaded, but as sure as the Belthane came, the only thing they achieved was to move the party north, to Lechlade.

Just as today, life in the Cotswold gateway was filled with conservative thinkers and powerful politicians, bombarded with complaints as the quarry was conquered and the party went on for days. For us, inside the compound, it was a magical moment, proof of strength in numbers. The media pounced more than ever, but, like all other things, be they current affairs, our own personal issues, none of it mattered.

In fact, I, and I don’t think many others did either, contemplate the significance of the next bank holiday bash on Castlemorton common, near Malvern in Worcestershire, until the point we climbed a hillside and looked down on how much it had grown. An estimated forty thousand, so they reckoned. A fear shuddered over me; they were not going to let us get away with this.

Only now, as they bashed the idea of the Criminal Justice Act around parliament in Castlemorton’s aftermath, did we become political, fighting for the right to party. But for the large-scale rave, it was the last. The government smashed the last nail in its coffin, and quashed an upcoming generation of rebellious, potential travelling folk.

You see, raves were organised by sound systems, and folk from all walks of life flocked to attend, but whenever something went wrong at an illegal rave, the travellers took the blame from the media. At Romsey’s regular Torpedo Town not long after Castlemorton, the police were not playing ball, and consequently there was an aura of anarchy in the air. Under instruction, they set up road blocks, which ravers simply parked alongside and walked to the site. This moved the commotion from the site to the town, and ITV News invited everyone to join in, including troublemakers, who torched a rubbish incinerator.

Outright, TV news teams blamed the travellers, and only a small report without apology followed some weeks later when they arrested two men from Birmingham, who had homes, and were not really defined as “ravers,” or “travellers” at all.

Many sound systems jumped the sinking ship, trekking across Europe and further, which, in turn, spread the culture, but for us, we were just kids, I don’t think I even had a passport! But life did get better, I passed my driving test fortunately the week before Castlemorton, and I’d eventually flee the family nest. But as my facilities to attend raves improved, the free party scene drowned in its own popularity.

The problem for authorities, was despite killing the physical party, they couldn’t cure the bug; the desire to carry on regardless. We only had to source other avenues. The first was the pay-rave, large-scale organised events saw a sudden influx.

By the end of the year 92, not one for the officialness the epoch had become with pay raves, one on our doorstep seemed viable, a nice, easy ticket to see in 1993 seemed like a good idea. Fantazia had a good rep, but little did we know it had been swallowed by big businessmen. At Littlecote House they promised free parking, but made us cough up a fiver; should have been a clue. A number of broken promises let it down, but if disillusioning the punters, they aimed for, dumping the contents of the port-a-loos on a farmer’s track nearby was a step too far.

Why did it matter to anyone other than the farmer? Because it projected bad on the scene, via media, it cast a shadow over our moral standards, all of us. Did Littlecote ever host another rave?

For the most part, though, the pay raves dedicated loyally to the raver. The scene grew stronger for this, against the businessman capitalising on the trend, those pay events with morals could erect stages and effects which took on concert and festival proportions, and was largely responsible for the compatible atmosphere of today’s festival scene.

But for the demise of the freedom, the self-determination of do-it-yourself counterculture and autonomy of the society it created within it, we paid the cost.

For the record, while any specific event can not be singled out, many illegal events were indeed well, if not better, organised than the pay ones, they were policed in their own special way, i.e.; one respected the travellers for being on their site, or the sound systems for their efforts, else risk an almost mediaeval punishment.

And for what it is worth, there was always an effort to clean up afterwards. Hard to imagine, after a heady night, these illegal ravers were handed bin bags, and they got onto the task without persuasion or wages, rather for the genuine want to return the land to how it was before their arrival, but it did. I can assure you; this didn’t happen at pay raves.

Other avenues worthy of exploring was Glastonbury, bunk the fence and you were in a whole new world, a city of tents, but it took some years for the Eavis family to accept an incursion of ravers, with their electronic bleeps. Prior to a time when The Prodigy would headline, ravers were a lost entity at the festival, wandering miles with only the rumour of an apt party to hand. Being they too had driven the travellers off with riotous consequences, a rave remained a rumour, and most made do standing outside a stall selling blankets, marching to their small sound system.

As we progressed through the nineties, smaller localised raves would break out. These were great, communal and friendly, and local police, while casting a beady eye, bypassed the Justice Bill rulings, acknowledging making a fuss about them was far more destructive than effective.

The safest bet to party though, was the club. Prepared to travel some distance to go clubbing, we’d eventually explore London and Brighton, but for the beginnings we stayed closer. The UFO Club at Longleat’s Berkley Suite would be a fluorescent trancey techno ball, Swindon’s Brunel Rooms presented hardcore, with a side order of house, whereas the hall of Golddiggers in Chippenham blew full-on hardcore out of the arena and into the carpark, and it was free with a little flyer.

It was in that same carpark, in conversation with an unknown straggler I had an epiphany. We asked him if he was having a good night, but he was negative. “I’m not going back in there,” he whined, “it’s all that jungle music.”

It occurred to me then, the hardcore was splitting. The solemn shadowy drum n bass was dividing from the merry hi-hats, crashing pianos and squeaky female vocals of what the younger raver deemed “happy hardcore.” If it tended to be racially motivated, or just socially, I couldn’t pick a side, appreciating them both for their dividing differences. Now considered a more mature raver, we shipped into the steady house and let the factions pull apart into the thousands of subgenres electronic music now finds itself with.

As we come to our final part of the series next week, I’m contemplating the effect and impact the free rave scene had, but lest we remember, for us it was over, and whatever avenue we did explore to satisfy our craving, it would never be the same.


Trending…

After-Thoughts of Indieday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Devizine Proudly Presents Various Artists 4 Julia’s House; Here’s the Track Listing!

Sleeve Notes for our Album 4 Julia’s House

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I hope! The track listing and details of all our wonderful songs presented on our forthcoming album, Various Artists 4 Julia’s House. Read on in awe….

Pre-order album on Bandcamp here!

Released: 29th June 2021

1. Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

2. King Dukes – Dying Man

3. Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey view

4. Timid Deer – The Shallows

5. Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

6. Strange Folk – Glitter

7. Strange Tales – Entropy

8. Paul Lappin – Broken Record

9. Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

10. Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

11. Wilding – Falling Dream

12. Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

13. Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station

14. Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

15. Will Lawton – Evanescence

16. Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

17. Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

18. Richard Wileman – Pilot

19. Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

20. Kier Cronin – Crying

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

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

23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

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

34. Mr Tea & The Minions – Mutiny

35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo

36. Boom Boom Bang Bang – Blondie & Ska

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

38. The Oyster – No Love No Law

39. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts

40. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time

41. Cutsmith – Osorio

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

43. Big Ship Alliance – All in this Thing Together

44. Neonian – Bubblejet

45. First Born Losers – Ground Loop

I’ll tell you what though, kids. This has been a lot more work than I originally anticipated! Yeah, I figured, just collect some tunes, let the artists do all the hard work and take the credit! But no, mate, wasn’t like that at all. The most important part for me, is ensuring the artists are properly thanked, so, just like those Now, That’s What I Call Music albums, I wanted to write up a full track listing with sleeve notes and links. Please support the artists you like on the album by checking them out, following and liking on social media and buying their music.

But to list all 45 tunes in one article will blow the attention span of the most avid reader, and if, like me, you’ve the attention span of a goldfish, find below the first twenty, and then the next 25 will follow as soon as my writer’s cramp ceases! Just putting them onto the bag was tedious enough, but worth the effort.


To all the artists below, message me if links are incorrect or broken, or if there’s any changes to the details you’d like me to edit, thanks, you blooming superstars.

1- Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

Not so much that Julie is similar to Julia, there could be no song more apt to start the album. Something of a local musical legend is Pete Lamb, owner of The Music Workshop, producing and recording local, national and international artists. His career in music stretches back to the sixties, creating such groups as The Colette Cassin Quintet and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats. Yet it is also his aid to local music which makes him a prominent figure, Kieran J Moore tells how Pete lent him equipment for the first Sheer Music gigs.

Pete Lamb

A wonderful rock n roll ballad with a poignant backstory, Julie was written in remembrance of Pete’s daughter who passed away in 2004 to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was featured on an album for the charity Hope for Tomorrow. The song also features Cliff Hall, keyboardist with the Shadows for many years, playing piano and strings.

Cliff Hall

2 – The King Dukes – Dying Man

Formed in Bristol in April 2019, a merger of a variety of local bands, including Crippled Black Phoenix, Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the John E. Vistic Experience, The King Dukes combine said talent and experience to create a unique, authentic sound, dipped in a heritage reuniting contemporary slices of British RnB with a dollop of Memphis soul.

Dying Man is a prime example, taken from the album Numb Tongues which we fondly reviewed back in the October of 2019. The brilliance of which hasn’t waned for me yet, and isn’t likely to.

The King Dukes

3- Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey

One cannot chat about reggae in Swindon without Erin’s name popping up. Keyboardist in the former ska-revival band, The Skanxters during the nineties, Erin now operates under various guises; the rock steady outfit Erin Bardwell Collective chiefly, experimental dub project Subject A with Dean Sartain, and The Man on the Bridge with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, to name but a few.

(Like the Reflection on) The Liffey is an eloquently emotive tune, staunch to the ethos of reggae, yet profoundly unique to appeal further. It is taken from the album Interval, one of two solo ventures for Erin during lockdown.

Erin Bardwell

4 – Timid Deer – The Shallows

My new favourite thing, after noting Timid Deer supported the Lost Trades debut gig at Trowbridge’s Pump. Though self-labelled indie, I was surprised how electronica they are, with a nod to the ninety’s downtempo scene of bands like Morcheeba and Portishead, hold the trip hop element. This Salisbury five-piece consisting of vocalist Naomi Henstridge, keyboardist Tim Milne, Tom Laws on double bass, guitarist Matt Jackson and drummers Chris and Jason Allen have created such an uplifting euphoric sound, hairs stand tall on the back of your neck.   

Taken from the 2019 album Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 1, I’m so pleased to present this.

Naomi Henstridge


5- Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

Yes, enthralled to have the song frontman Robert Hardie of Duck n Cuvver refers to as “his baby.” This is Salisbury Celtic roots rock band so aching to film part of their video for Henge of Stone inside Stonehenge, they’ve campaigned for the funds to do it, ending with Rab breaking into the monument to promote the campaign!

With references to the importance of solstice and the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, what other song could be so locally linked?

Duck & Curver

6 – Strange Folk – Glitter

A dark west country folk band in the realm of a beatnik time of yore, with a serious slice of gothic too, Strange Folk came to my attention playing the Vinyl Realm stage at the Devizes Street Festival. Hailing from Hertfordshire, band members also now reside in Somerset, Strange Folk is comprised of four songwriters; vocalist Annalise Spurr, guitarist David Setterfield, Ian Prangnell on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Steve Birkett. Glitter features cello by Helen Robertson, and is a name-your-price gift to fans during lockdown, a wonderful teaser which if you like, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t, you should try the 2014 mini-album Hollow, part one.

Strange Folk

7 – Strange Tales – Entropy

With singer Sally Dobson on the Wiltshire acoustic circuit and the synth/drum programming of Paul Sloots, who resides in West Sussex, catching this duo, Strange Tales live would be a rare opportunity not to be missed. Though their brilliance in melodic, bass and synth-driven goth-punk is captured in the 2018 album Unknown to Science, in which our track Entropy is taken.

Their songs relate baroque cautionary tales drawn from the murkier corners of the human psyche, while retaining a pop sensibility and stripped-down, punk-rock approach. Fans of the darker side of eighties electronica, of Joy Division and Depeche Mode will love this. You can buy this album at Vinyl Realm in Devizes.

Strange Tales; Paul Sloots & Sally Dobson

8- Paul Lappin – Broken Record

Imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world. Paul hails from Swindon originally, but resides mostly in the Occitanie region of the south of France, where he wrote and recorded the mind-blowingly brilliant album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, released in October 2020. Our chosen track, Broken Record was a single just prior, in August, and features Lee Alder – bass guitar, electric guitar, Robert Brian – drums, Jon Buckett – Hammond organ, electric guitar, Paul Lappin – vocals, synths, Lee Moulding – percussion, Harki Popli – table.

Music & lyrics by Paul Lappin ©2020. Recorded at Earthworm Recording Studio, Swindon. Produced & Mixed by Jon Buckett. Mastered by Pete Maher.

Paul Lappin

9- Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

Now Devizes-based, Bill Green was a genuine Geordie Britpop article, co-creating the local band Still during those heady nineties. Today his band on the circuit, Billy Green 3 consists also of Harvey Schorah and Neil Hopkins, who’s talents can be witnessed in the awesome album this track comes from, also titled Still. Mastered and produced by Martin Spencer and Matt Clements at Potterne’s Badger Set studio in 2020, it’s wonderfully captures the remnants of the eighties scooter scene in reflected in Britpop.

I’m sure you can buy the album at Vinyl Realm, Devizes; I would if I were you.

Billy Green 3

10- Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, Flick the Switch, also illuminated Potterne’s Badger Set studio in August of 2020, and it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for the first lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals. Glad to have featured it then, even more pleased Jon contributed it to this album.

Jon Veale

11- Wilding – Falling Dream

What can be said which hasn’t about Avebury’s exceptionally talented singer-songwriter George Wilding? A true legend in the making. Now residing in Bristol, George has the backing of some superb musicians to create the force to be reckoned with, Wilding. Perry Sangha assists with writing, as well electric guitar, loads more electric guitars, acoustic guitar, organ and weird synth things. Bassist James Barlow also handles backing vocals and cous cous. Daniel Roe is on drums.

The debut EP, Soul Sucker knocked me for six back in November 2018, as did this here latest single recorded at the elusive Dangerous Dave’s Den, mixed and mastered by Dan Roe, during October last year.

Wilding

12 – Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

One good thing about preparing this album is to hear bands I’ve seen the names of, kicking around, and added to our event guide many times over, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see at a gig. Marlborough-based Barrelhouse is one, and after hearing Mainline Voodoo, I’m intending to make a beeline to a gig. Favourites over at their local festival, MantonFest, headlined Marlborough’s 2019 Christmas Lights Switch-On, and right up my street!

Formed in early 2014, Barrelhouse offer vintage blues and rock classics, heavily influenced by the golden age of Chicago Blues and the early pioneers of the British blues scene, staying true to the essence that made these tunes great and adding their own style of hard-edge groove. Overjoyed to feature Mainline Voodoo, title track from their 2020 album, which broke into the UK’s national Blues Top 40.

Barrelhouse

13 – Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station (R. Davies)

Absolutely bowled over, I am, to have Swindon’s road-driving rock band with a hint of punk, Richard Davis & The Dissidents send is this exclusive outtake from the Human Traffic album, out now on Bucketfull of Brains. We reviewed it back in December. Recorded at Mooncalf Studios. Produced by Richard Davies, Nick Beere and Tim Emery. If the outtake is this amazing, imagine the album!

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

14 – Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

Lockdown may’ve delayed new material from Devizes-based progressive-metal five-piece Kinasis, but frontman Tom Harris has sent us something solo, and entirely different. Ebb & Flow is an exclusive track made for this album, a delicate and beautiful strings journey; enjoy.

Tom Harris

15 – Will Lawton & The Alchemists – Evanescence

Wiltshire singer-songwriter, pianist and music therapist Will Lawton, here with his group The Alchemists. A weave of many progressive influences from jazz to folk, Will recently surprised me by telling me drum n bass is among them too. The latest album ‘Salt of the Earth, Vol. 1 (Lockdown)’, is a collection of original poems embedded in meditative piano and ambient soundscapes. But we’ve taken this spellbinding tune from the previous release, Abbey House Session.

Will Lawton

16- Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

Hailing from Essex but prevalent on our local live music circuit, with some amazing performances at Devizes’ Southgate, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective offer us this uplifting country-rock/roots anthem, which, after one listen, will see you singing the chorus, guaranteed. It is the finale to their superb 2020 album, Do What you Love.

Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective rocking the Southgate last year

17 – Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

If we’ve been massively impressed with Wiltshire’s country sensation, Kirsty Clinch’s new country-pop singles Fit the Shoe, Around and Around, and most recently, Waters Running Low and anticipating her forthcoming album, it’s when we get the golden opportunity to catch her live which is really heart-warming. This older track, recorded at Pete Lamb’s Music Workshop, exemplifies everything amazing about her acoustic live performances, her voice just melts my soul every listen.

Kirsty Clinch


18- Richard Wileman – Pilot

Incredibly prolific, Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman is known for his pre-symphonic rock band Karda Estra. Idols of the Flesh is his latest offering from a discography of sixteen albums, which we reviewed. Along a similar, blissful ethos Richard Wileman served up Arcana in September this year, where this track is taken from. While maintaining a certain ambiance, his own named productions are more conventional than Karda Estra, more attributed to the standard model of popular music, yet with experimental divine folk and prog-rock, think Mike Oldfield, and you’re part-way there.


19 – Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

Bristol’s Nigel G Lowndes is a one-man variety show. Vaudeville at times, tongue-in-cheek loungeroom art-punk meets country folk; think if Talking Heads met Johnny Cash. Who? is the unreleased 11th track from his album Hello Mystery, we reviewed in March, and we’re glad to present it here.

Nigel G Lowndes

20 – Kier Cronin – Crying

Unsolicited this one was sent, and I love it for its rockabilly reel although a Google search defines this Swindon based singer songwriter as indie/alternative. Obsessed with the music and the joy of writing, Kier told me, “I once had a dream Bruce Springsteen told me to give it up… So, this one’s for you Bruce!” Crying was released as a single in March, also check out his EP of last year called One.


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

New short series of articles exploring rave culture thirty years on, from a personal perspective….

In the early eighties my nan and grandad stood at the head of the hall, preparing from requests they adlib a speech for their surprise anniversary party. My grandad did the standard honours, thanking everyone for coming, excusing any clumsiness with his words by suggesting, “we’re still at ten thousand feet with the surprise.” At this point my nan’s sister interrupted with astute cockney humour; “bit like your wedding night, eh, Carrie?!”

“No,” my Nan causally retorted, “there were bombs on our wedding night!”

It’s a sentiment which will live with me forever, how anyone can pass off bombs during their wedding, in jest. Most people nowadays get irate if rains on their special day. Because, whenever my grandparents spoke of the war and living in the east-end during the blitz, it was a joyous transcript, never revealing horrors we know happened. I ponder my own memories of youth, wonder if it’s the same rose-tinted specs, or if the era really was as utterly fantastic as my memory of it is.

And in this much, there’s a thing; nothing we did was particularly new-fangled. Tribally, ancient folk gathered to celebrate and hypnotically dance to drum beats, and the occurrence never trended or waivered. Though it maybe debatable, I think, with the introduction of computer technology in music, designer chemicals and enough chewing gum to keep Wrigley’s in business, we partied harder, faster and longer than any previous youth culture did, and probably ever will in the future!

We made party a way of life. We did not think politically until they came for us. Our only concerns were where the next party would be and if we’d have enough cash for some petrol and necessities. Our only motivation was the joyous unification of a tribal-like movement, or in other words, a fuck-off legendary party. Our only philosophies were how beautiful said unification was, and how we could promote it to the world. Yet, unbeknown at the time, the latter was most likely our downfall. No one makes some fucking noise anymore.

Often referred to as “you remember, the one with the haystacks!”

I do recall the fabled week of the second bank holiday of May 1992, how we gathered at a common in Malvern. I also recollect wandering up a hillside on the first morning, observing how large the event had grown, and I remember thinking to myself, nice as it was, they were never going to let us live this one down, they were going to have to attempt to put a stop to it, politically.

So, I’m drafting a series of articles exploring the time, from a personal interpretation, hoping to conclude, it’s a bit of both; rose-tinted specs, and the most explosive period of counter-culture hedonism ever. Individual because events and accounts vary vastly from person-to-person; how, where and why they “got into,” the sybaritic nineties trend of rave. Lots of memoirs I do read or see, like the most successful, Justin Kerrigan’s 1999 film Human Traffic, are set in an urban environment. Unlike these, we spent our youth in the Wiltshire countryside, and this I feel is a major contributing factor which differs our story from most, especially prior to passing my driving test!  Thumbs out, “you going to the party, mate?”

I’m doing it now because of the significance of the anniversary. Thirty years ago, I class my “personal summer of love.” It was 1991, I was eighteen, standing in an unidentified field somewhere in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, gyrating like a robot through the morning mist, eyes large as saucers, and a jawbone tremor you could break a walnut with. Imagine, not alone, but with countless likeminded others. In fact, I’d lost my mates an uncalculatable time ago, which mattered not one iota. How did I get here? Why did I go there? Where the bloody hell was I anyway? To reflect back with any hope of clarity is not only to understand the epoch and the time, but the mindset, and for this we need to go back further, much further.

I put my pre-initiation to becoming a “raver,” into two significant recollections. The first was in the spring of 1984, in my Dad’s Ford Cortina, heading for the Asda at the Chelmer Village outside Chelmsford. Growing up in Essex had one advantage to my friends in the west country, we had pirate radio, and I mean pirates. Anchored off the East Anglia coast were the legendary Radio Caroline, where BBC Radio headhunted many DJs, but who appeased their fanbase by continuing playing sixties and seventies songs, and its sister, the short-lived Laser 558, which toppled Caroline’s listeners by using American DJs which played a continuous mix of contemporary tunes.

Hard to imagine at the time we considered having a cassette deck in a car radio as something only for the gods. In fact, I went to edit that last sentence to call it a car stereo, but reflecting back it wasn’t even stereo, just the one speaker below the dashboard! Reason why my brother and I would screech requests from the backseats for my Dad to turn it up. On this occasion we were particularly demanding, as there was a song, I’d never heard the like of ever before. Sure, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte’s I Feel Love was timeworn, and we existed amidst the dawn of new romantic, the electronic eighties pop in Britain was governed by the experimental post-punks. They either got with the program or fell into obscurity, whinging about how Adam Ant sold out.

Nope, I hadn’t a Scooby-Doo what a Roland TR-808 was, but I knew what I liked. I wasn’t aware of Factory Records, but I knew what Blue Monday was, and I knew liking Duran Duran might make me more attractive to the opposite sex. But this American song was wildly different, it was like ultramodern sonic funk, it was Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force. I figured aside the Dr Who theme, this was the sound of the future, this was space-age, flying cars type stuff. And for the best part, I was right. Little did I know I’d be standing in a cold west country field seven years later, gnashing my teeth to electronic beats which made this sound old-hat.

I went out and loaded myself with American electro and early hip hop, discovering Grandmaster Melle Mel, Hashim, Newcleus et all, and we nagged Dad for a video recorder. My parents couldn’t see the point to recording TV, or hiring a VHS cassette, but the latter soon become a family weekend activity. We hired National Lampoons Vacation the first weekend, but prior to that, my brother rented the movie Beat Street, and everything, the Bronx culture, the graffiti, the breakdancing, the rapping, all fell into place.  

Before I knew what was what, we were breaking in the school playground to commercialised versions, Break Machine’s Street Dance, Ollie & Jerry’s Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us and Hey, you The Rock Steady Crew. Well, I say breakdancing, but that was a showy skilful fad for flexible kids. As a shy, cumbersome one, surrounded by puppy-fat I ticked none of those boxes and made do with “body popping.” This was far simpler, just had to join hands with the kids in the circle either side of you and do a kind of connected wave. That will impress the fairer sex, we must have figured, least I don’t know why else we did it, but we did, and less said about it the better.

Just like our school playground….. or maybe not!

The second significant recollection as a pre-cursor to becoming a “raver,” was a trip to the dentist. I needed my four remaining milk teeth extracted. For this, unlike today where you stay awake, numbed but perceptible to the dentist tensioning a foot to the side of the chair while he wrenches into your gum full force, they put me to sleep using gas. The nurse held my hand and told me to count to ten, I remember feeling uneasy as the gas took effect, it felt strange, it was the first time I was high; destined to be a “raver,” I’ll leave it up to your imagination if it was the last!

Do come again next Sunday, for the second part; might actually get on to the party stuff by then!


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Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Can You Help Calne Central Youth & Community Centre Raise Funds to Keep it Going?

Calne in Tune stated their activities in 2013. In 2015 a handful of Musicians, Artists & Crafters at Calne in Tune decided they needed a Music Arts & Crafts Centre in Calne to collaborate in creative activities and encourage the young and people of all ages and abilities in the wider Calne area.

They looked for an appropriate space and found that all Youth Centres were gradually getting closed down. They were not meeting the needs and interest of the young people of today. There were no central Community Centres where they could fully operate from, to provide a broad range of Facilities and Services, 24/7.

They decided the centre of Calne needed a Youth & Community Centre where any Community Group could operate cheaply, spreading the costs. Community facilities were far too divided and too expensive for each group to be able to get premises of their own, only to use a couple of days a week.

They first looked at the old Priestley Grove Youth Centre and put in a bid to take it over, repair and refurbish it themselves (many of our members are in the building trades) and set it up as a Music, Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre. The plan was rejected by Wiltshire Council at the time.

Not going to give up, in 2020 the opportunity became available to hire the old FM Furniture store at 20 Church Street, Calne. They approached the developers (Stibbard Properties) about the possibility of renting the building while plans were being considered for its development (it is now up for sale.)

Andrew Stibbard was in the process of getting development permissions and agreed to allow them to hire it on a 3-month rolling basis at temporary advantageous rent, with an option to purchase at an advantageous price.

They moved in over February 2020, installed donated furniture, music and computer equipment and opened to the public by the end of the month. They called it Calne Central Music; Arts & Crafts based Youth & Community Centre.

“We first kicked off with the Music, Arts and Crafts activities and used the Centre as a base from which to go out to our various Music, Arts and Crafts Venues around Calne Town and across Wiltshire,” explains organiser Terry Couchman.

“We set up an Arts & Crafts Window Display and decided to include Trade Crafts in our Brief. Our walls and shelves were prepared for Artwork and Crafted good of all kinds and we fitted out a Music Practice Room and a Performance Space.”

“We, at last, had somewhere where we could encourage local people of all ages and abilities (and disabilities) to engage in any creative and recreational activities. We were also able supplement our Calne in Tune and Calne Community Hub volunteers with further Community Volunteers to help run the place as an integrated Youth & Community Centre. Slowly people began to come through our doors, just as the Covid Lockdown started.”

Calne in Tune now works with Community Service Charity ‘Heart of the Community’. This is an organisation which brings individual volunteers & community groups together to run Calne Central and provide the wider Community Service.

“We are now a ‘Community Hub’,” Terry continues, “supporting any group that wants to join us in the building itself, use our facilities to promote itself, or provide equipment and volunteer assistance for their events and activities.”

“Giving Birth is painful enough without the challenges, frustrations, and stresses of feeling trapped and restricted in our movements. Part of our commitment was towards encouraging people who are variously disabled, those with mental health challenges, the lonely, isolated, and disaffected.”

“We knew from years of common experience how important Music, Arts and Crafts (of all kinds) benefit people naturally and therapeutically. Sharing these experiences together proved even more beneficial. That remains our main focus for trying to meet all community needs.”

“We decided that that we were doing was far too important to simply shut down for the duration of the emergency. With the help of increasing numbers of Volunteers and the involvement of Calne Men’s Shed, Calne Community Hub and others, we opened fully, 6 days a week 10-6 and provided access every evening and all weekend for Creative and Essential Community Support activities.”

“Our Volunteer group grew and through the painful process of any birth, we established enough support to spread the load a little. With the encouragement and funding from Calne Town Council, Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Community Foundation, and other generous donors, we remained open, including throughout two lockdowns.”

“We continued to provide our usual Music Arts & Craft Exhibitions & Showcases when we could. People can still come in to practice as individuals and we expanded our Community Activities to include service like the 24/7 Community Fridge & Larder and the Community Café.”

“We also dedicated ourselves to re-cycling, taking in disused Bikes, Microwaves, Kettles, Irons, Computers TV’s, DVD’s CD, Books, even the odd fridge, washing machine and furniture, to refurbish and sell on at affordable prices.”

“The Bicycle sales and services became a major income generator, and we became popular for kids to pop in to get their biked made safe and do small repairs for free. This was another valid reason for us remaining open throughout lockdowns.”

Not everyone was happy though and there was to be more pain to come. There have been a small number of “petty jealousies, bogus complaints and unfair criticisms” of the volunteers and the fact the Centre remained ‘legitimately’ open.

Some of these were personally abusive and slanderous. Terry said, “we survived all this though, and we are still open and have just enough to get us through to July this year. We will be seeking more Funding but we hope that we can now start to generate a bit more income for ourselves as we come out of lockdown.”

“As I keep reminding people, in terms of our community facilities. ‘Use it or Lose It (Don’t Abuse It)’. That was our mantra since the beginning.”

A Youth & Community Centre’s only has a chance in the long-term is when people work together, as a team, in inclusive and diverse ways that are ‘Enabling and Empowering’ for all. People need to speak up for what they need and then seek to protect what they have for everyone’s benefit.

“There is no room for Superior Egos within Community Services,” Terry continued, “we all make an important contribution, according to our skills, means, interests and the time available outside our family and work lives.”

“We’ve demonstrated that working together, appreciating each contribution, with mutual tolerance and understanding, is the only way to succeed and grow, without getting too big for our boots.”

Part of providing a Youth & Community Space is to ensure it remains safe, adaptable and accessible, with enough volunteer contribution and assistance from the members of the community that use it and benefits from it. “There is no room for those who would seek to undermine, disrupt or in any way distress those who provide the services or use them. Such actions will be (and must be) confronted.”

They now need to review the first year of operation and find ways to fund it through the rest of the year. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to buy the current building at a very advantaged price.

Terry said, “we know we can renovate the building ourselves. We will be conducting a survey of all our members, volunteers and users looking an option for the purchase of the building.”

The fundraising effort can be found on Facebook here; please don’t let Calne lose this important facility.


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Meet the Wiltshire Council Election Candidates

Or at least the ones either valiant or crazy enough to stomach appearing on Devizine!

I did, didn’t I, promise not to edit or “open my big cake hole,” rather offer any candidate two paragraphs on why the heck we should vote for them, and leave it at that?

No bias, no political grandstanding, no wonky opinion, and, take heed politicians/councillors; I’m a man of my word! The only editing I’ve had to undertake is the obvious grammar and spelling mistakes. Honestly, it’s been like a primary school teacher’s weekend!

I was informed there were hundreds of wanna-be councillors and it was suggested I’d be inundated. But to-date, only these guys braved the wrath. But, if you’re a councillor thinking, well blow me down with a manifesto attached to feather, attached to a brick, that filthy commoner stuck to his promise and refrained from insulting and mocking candidates, and I missed my chance; the beauty of online blogging is I can add you, if you so wish. Just drop me line on devizine@hotmail.com and you’re in the club. There’s no badge or plastic club wallet though, try to control your tantrum at this.

By the way, I postal voted, so I’m way past caring!

While I’m here though, and before I tangent or lower the tone, I’d like to wish all candidates the very best of luck, and being so popular it scares me, be thankful I’m not running as an ultramodern monster raving loony candidate, or a conservative, as it’s better known. Apologies, couldn’t resist one quick satirical stab; somebody stop me!


Margaret Green: Green Party Candidate for Devizes Rural West

Looking for a challenge in my third retirement… What should I do??? I know, drive Wiltshire to meet a zero carbon future by 2030 😉 become a Wiltshire Councillor…

Something to keep me busy when not out with the horses or importing French saddles (Brexit has been interesting)…

I have lived Wiltshire since retiring from the MOD in 2009, and am proud to have called our beautiful town of Devizes home for the last 5 years. Since moving to Devizes, I’ve become involved with Sustainable Devizes, the Wiltshire Climate Alliance, and the Green Party. All organisations committed to delivering a better future for local residents.

My highest priority is to ensure that Wiltshire Council delivers a sustainable local plan that provides safe, warm affordable homes for all citizens, while preserving the character of the area.

The Green Party never tell their councillors how to vote. So, I can be an independent voice for Devizes Rural West, putting residents and not party politics first.

I have loved working with you and for you, finding out what matters to you, looking for solutions to local problems and working to make this area better for everyone in the community. That’s why I’m standing for election.
I would be honoured to be your representative on Wiltshire Council and get even more done for you as your councillor. For more information on Green Party policies, see our Manifesto here:
https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/


Alan Coxon: Independent Candidate for Pewsey, Milton Lilborne, Easton Royal, and Wootton Rivers.

I am excited to be standing for election as your Independent candidate
for the Pewsey area for Wiltshire council.

I’m not tied by party policies and party politics, I will be your voice,
not the party representative. I know I can offer you something
different, a real voice in local government.

I’m not going to make false promises, but I do have a raft of policies.
The policies are extensive and so available on my website,
https://www.alan-coxon.com/ and there is more information about me and
why I am the choice for you.

Formerly on the Parish Council I have made a real impact preserving
local services. I have a lot of experience in Local Government to add
to my wide life and employment experience.

Be the change.


Lisa Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Urchfont and Bishops Cannings

Well, it’s not all about me!  In voting for a Liberal Democrat Candidate, you will be supporting our Plan for Wiltshire. I am fully behind the Plan and would love the opportunity to reset and transform the way Wiltshire is run and how services are delivered. The Conservatives have governed nationally now for 11 years, and have led Wiltshire council since its creation in 2009.  In that period, we have seen a decline in all areas of our public services.  It’s hard to think of any that have improved and this managed decline directly impacts our lives here in Wiltshire.  We don’t need to shrug and accept this. As a Liberal Democrat councillor, I would deliver on our promise to run our council more openly and with greater direct engagement with communities.  Our plan recognises our commitment to the environment with practical steps to reduce CO2 rather than abstract and distant targets. For our villages I would campaign to create safe (e)cycling and routes linking our villages to Devizes so all ages can “get to town” without a car. 

Briefly about me.  I was a hairdresser, then worked in Social Care then switched again to become secondary school teacher!  I moved to Urchfont as an Army family 20 years; all 3 of my Children have gone to our local state schools.  I ran a local youth club, helped with the rights of way group and now a local environment group.  I plant hedges and trees, walk my dog, have always campaigned against racism and inequality, shout at Andrew Marr and get upset at a corruption and old boys’ networks.  We deserve more honesty, integrity and compassion from our representatives at all levels and I put myself forward to represent our community to try and be exactly that.  I’d have a huge amount to learn, but I would genuinely do my best for my community and Wiltshire.

https://www.facebook.com/LisaKinnairdUrchfontBishopsC

David Kinnaird: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes North

Well – as a Lib Dem Candidate I’d echo the views set out by Lisa Kinnaird above.  I won’t repeat the Lib Dem manifesto again.

About me – I served 15 years in the Army leaving as a Major in 2000, and it was in my final 3 years of service that we moved to Urchfont.  Since then, I have worked and lead in technology and property companies in London, the USA and India and outside the Army have had to work hard to understand how business works.  Unsurprisingly my interests mirror Lisa’s and I have been involved in all of her voluntary and campaigning activities – but was also a School Governor of our local Primary School.   I feel grounded and happy in Wiltshire but want to see better public services and equality of access for all of us.

I’d have a huge amount to learn again about local government, but if elected would bring wide experience and dedication to the post.  I hope you can put your trust in me.

https://www.planforwiltshire.org.uk/theplan

https://devizeslibdems.org.uk/en/

Iain Wallis: Conservative Candidate for Devizes North

I have lived in Devizes most of my life and have always felt incredibly lucky to live here. Having been interested in local issues for many years I went to a town council organised ‘consultation’ event in 2014 and couldn’t believe how little the councillors there actually wanted to listen to the views of the town. They had their plan and weren’t going to budge; the consultation was little more than lip service to those who had even discovered the session was being run. As a result, many of those there, who I spoke to and thought had great ideas, never came back as they couldn’t see the point if they weren’t going to be heard.

At that point I decided that what was needed was someone who wanted to listen to the town and work with others but was also stubborn enough not to be pushed around by an old guard who were comfortable with things as they were. I believe I am that person and that I can help others from across the town get their voice heard, especially those who say to me that the council don’t want to hear from them as it’s even more important that they have a voice. I recognise that not everyone will always agree with my view, my politics, or my actions, but I hope they recognise that I will always be prepared to take action and justify them with honesty and integrity. No one should want to be a councillor to say they are a councillor; they should do it because they want to make a difference – however corny that may sound.

https://www.facebook.com/Iain-Wallis-for-Devizes-North-101007508522736

Noel Woolrych: Labour Candidate for Devizes East

Why should you vote for me? For 30 years I’ve been working behind the scenes to get a new hospital and to restore a rail link to the Town (I’m one of the DDP Directors committed to delivering this by 2025). Potholes (enough said!) Green issues – I’m one of the few people who have actually converted their houses to near Zero carbon. I want to do more. Homeless issues, fly tipping, I could give you a wish list as long as your arm.

https://www.facebook.com/noelwoolrych.devizeseast

 Angelika Davey: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Devizes East

Although I’ve been living in Devizes East since 1988 you may not have heard of me because unlike my political opponents I cannot boast of any involvement in political or social local issues. I have not been a mayor or even a councillor, because raising a family and starting my own business has taken all my time. As a self-employed teacher my working times change every time a student leaves and a new student wants lessons. But in recent months this has changed as most of my new students learn via my online courses – and I now have more time.

And I want to use this time best by serving Devizes East residents.

I am concerned about our green spaces and as a teacher I am very interested in education and youth services. But most of all I will work for you. If you raise any issues with me, I will get back to you. Whether it’s something I can do or not, or if it’s taking longer than anticipated – you will get replies from me!

I love living in Devizes and I want the best for all of us!

https://www.facebook.com/DevizesEast

Laura Mayes: Conservative Candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway

I am Laura Mayes, the Conservative candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway for the Wiltshire Council elections on 6th May.  I have been the Wiltshire Councillor for Roundway for 12 years and am the only candidate who lives in the constituency so have a real vested interest in doing my best for residents.  I look forward to adding Bromham and Rowde to my patch after the boundary change.  I have built a reputation for acting quickly to solve local issues and getting results – I don’t give up easily!  In addition to representing Roundway residents, I have been supporting Rowde Parish Council for the last year, including securing £20,000 to improve the playground at Silverlands.  I have also been attending Bromham Parish Council meetings – I am up to date with the road, drainage, planning and broadband issues so will be able to hit the ground running after the election.

I have worked hard for the last 12 years to make improvements to our area, and if you elect me, I will continue to support residents.  As one resident said, “You’re doing a great job Laura – you make things happens.  The world needs more you!”

https://www.facebook.com/Laura4Roundway

Mark Mangham: Liberal Democrats Candidate for Bromham, Rowde & Roundway

I am new to politics but have been driven to stand because of the poor performance of Wilshire council.  I am a former soldier, a defence consultant and treasurer of the friends of Erlestoke prison charity. I volunteered for Love Devizes during the pandemic.  The last month has been really illuminating talking to people on the doorstep and I can’t wait to be able to make a difference if lucky enough to be elected. I hope to talk to you personally before May 6th.

Furlong Close should be a great example of how a village has taken a vulnerable community to its heart.  Instead, it’s under threat of closure and is not yet safe and the Council have been dragged kicking and screaming to perform a U-turn by a small group of parents of vulnerable residents.  That alone is a scandal and in lockdown has caused stress and anxiety in a community who actually needed proactive support. They have been briefed against and only very recently when 43,000 people signed a petition taken seriously.

In certain areas in Roundway there is about to be a major traffic nightmare with the new estate and no extra access or provision – and those who live on London Road have it pretty bad already.  People in Rowde are about to get triple the congestion at the new super school – and planning are dragging their feet on making the access safe and sensible.  The speed limit is far too high and three deaths in an accident appears to have made no difference.

Wilts County Council led by the LibDems made a commitment on climate change in 2019 – but only when sensible conservatives rebelled – I fear my opponent was not one of them.  It is time to make sure the council helps to put the environment at the heart of policy.  Reducing pollution levels from unnecessary traffic queues would be a start!

Finally, local youth have been let down with the collapse in youth services; Braeside was saved by a campaign led by ordinary people – and central government funding and bans priorities in the county council have had a terrible impact on people badly affected by the pandemic.

Listening to people and taking action will be my aim – I look forward to be lucky enough to be able to get going!

https://www.facebook.com/MarkManghamBRR

Black Market Dubs Elton

On 6th February 1989 an unidentified lone gunman in Kingston, Jamaica killed Osbourne Ruddock. He made off with his gold chain and licensed gun, the music industry lost a pioneer often under-represented in history. The likely reason for this obscurity, he was not a musician, rather a producer and sound engineer who begun his career fixing disgraced radios.

Better known to the world as King Tubby, during his sound system dances of the mid-sixties he noted the crowd favoured the instrumental sections of the song. This rock steady era was dominated by vocal harmony groups, but with a handful of others, including Lee Scratch Perry and Bunny Striker Lee, Tubby set about extending the instrumental sections, cutting the mid-range, dropping the basslines and limiting the vocals with echo delays.

King Tubby

He had created “dub,” more technique than genre, it revolutionised music way beyond reggae and is the mainstay formula of all pop since hip hop; today, we take the remix for granted.

But aside the pioneering techniques we owe Tubby for, dub has too developed into a reconised genre and given us subgenres, from drum and bass to dubstep and dembow.

Still the origins were remixes of rock steady and reggae songs, and from the most unsuspecting area to find dub thriving that ethos, Nashville, Tennessee, Nate Bridges uses the techniques rather to reimagine pop, rock, even film or TV soundtracks, or anything which takes his fancy, under the guise Black Market.

The magic of Black Market is they retain the offbeat formula of reggae, while being versions of four-beat tunes. The strapline goes “what would happen if The Beach Boys had The Wailers as their backing band instead of The Wrecking Crew? What if David Bowie spent the summer of 1975 in Kingston, Jamaica with King Tubby instead of Philidelphia? Michael Jackson meets Scratch Perry? These questions are the basic thesis of Black Market.”

While few of these mainstream sources could easily be converted, such as the Clash, the magic is when Nate and friends takes something wholly non-reggae and breathes an air of dub to it. The Beach Boys album first attracted me to this, but with every new release he never fails to take it to the next step.

The latest release from this prolthic genius is Elton John classics, and I felt it’s long overdue to mention him. This is, without doubt, utterly sublimely executed and would appeal to reggae lovers and fans of the subjects being reimagined alike; hearing is believing.

While we’ve had the astounding recordings of the Easy Star Allstars, when they dubbed classic albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt Peppers and “Radiodread,” they pride themselves in originally recreating the music without samples, Black Market are the purveyors of sampling, the kingpin is the lifting of the original and placing it in a reggae setting.

Find the Michael Jackson Thriller album dubbed, Bowie, Tempations, Talking Heads and Twin Peaks, Batman and Ghostbusters soundtracks among others, and all name your price on Bandcamp.

Astounded by pinning a ska riff to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Nate told me it was the only way to accomplish the track to such standard he requires, the predominantly downtempo of dub simply didn’t fit the bill. This made me contemplate the complexities of what he’s dealing with, when opposed to simply remixing a tune. And it’s this which makes Black Market such a fascinating project which leaves you wondering what’s next on his agenda, and if there’s anything which he wouldn’t rise to the challenge of dubbing. I’d like to throw Mozart at him!


Chapter Five: The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole

Chapter Five: in which, at a loss-end, our intrepid hero has no other choice but to go for a pint in a local Weatherforks……

There was no divinely erotic dream of imbibing on one of the many lactating teats of a larvae queen with the head of Margaret Thatcher in a sado-masochistic pupae dungeon this time for Councillor Yellowhead. In his uneasy slumber he envisioned nothing other than a dark void of aloneness, a dreaded solitude.

He awoke aware the feeling remained. Prior to opening his eyes, he smelt the wet dog hair, the woodburning smoke, patchouli oil, burning cannabis leaf and the body odour of female hippy elders. The concept he would awake from the nightmare and things would be back the way they once were had shattered. He focussed on Briggs, standing over his sickbed, grinning.

Trainee councillor Grant Briggs was shirtless, his body tanned and nipples pierced. He wore the slight headdress of a native American brave, torn denim shorts, and little else. “Like, hey dude,” he purred in a rougher tone, with a broken accent, “you’ve been, like, out for some time!”

Yellowhead sat up in alarm, observing his whereabouts. He was in a tipi; a few hammocks lie circular around the edges and the middle was warmed by a firepit where kettles hung from branches above it. Topless old ladies cared for folk on the hammocks, both their beaded necklaces and breasts flopping over their faces as they tended to their needs. “Am I in hell?” he whimpered.

“You’re in the natural healing tipi,” Briggs proudly informed, “I recommend the Buddhist head massage, it’s boss!”

 “How long have I been, out?”

“A few days,” Briggs replied, “to be honest, I kind of lost track.”

Yellowhead let out a deep sigh of dread. “What has happened, Briggs? Has the whole world gone as mad as the March hare?”

Briggs stuck a hand pipe to his lips and inhaled. “I have a theory, man.”

“What happened to the days when you called me sir?” Yellowhead asked, “rather than man?”

Briggs exhaled, filling the area with smoke. “It’s a good theory……”

Another sigh, deeper this time, Yellowhead regretfully requested more information about it. “Out with then, if you must.”

Briggs waited a moment, for effect, then said boldly, “I think, that wasn’t a pothole at all, rather a porthole, a porthole to another dimension……” The last word hung in air akin to a Labour Party manifesto presented to the Chipping Norton Town Council.

Yellowhead snarled, “really, is that the best you can do? I strongly suggest you give up the funny-fags, remember you are a trainee councillor, and as such you have certain obligations to adhere to good old conservative philosophy, for the sake of your county, your country, and the Queen!”

“Like, seriously,” Briggs continued unperturbed, “the multi-verse theory has relevance with many renowned scientists. A bubble of dimensions, billions upon billions of them, each with a decisive tangent which branches from each other at every possible decision ever made. Suppose, for a moment, here is a universe in which Miltshire has adopted a more, shall we say, leftist ideology, a more freethinking ethos, for the people rather than capitalism, a socialist haven!”

“In which case I stick to my original query,” Yellowhead groaned, “am I in hell?”       

“No, man,” Briggs responded, “quite the opposite. There’s a lot to be said about life here, dude. I’ve been, like, living it, experiencing it first-hand.”

“I’d feel for you,” Yellowhead sighed, “if I was in any way concerned for your welfare or sanity.”

“The pace of life may be significantly slower here,” Briggs continued his pitch, “but surprisingly, society functions effectively and fairly. Small communities such as towns have no national political party affiliation, rather than an elected council they’re run by a diverse independent group; local volunteers, willing to share their time and expertise to really make a difference. The words ‘manifesto’ and ‘marketing campaign’ have no meaning here. There are no constraints of a party doctrine, decisions are made without a concern of retaining power. They call it a flatpack democracy, sir.”

“Quite,” Yellowhead snarled his discontent, “and akin to anything sold in a flatpack, most of the screws and washers are missing. Does anyone here know what a bathtub is? What these wet dreamers need, Briggs, is Jeremy Clarkson, in a Range rover, with a shooting rifle and unlimited champagne to pop their grotesque bubble.” He swung his legs off the hammock and placed them firmly on the ground.

A nurse waddled over, her breasts and beads swaying. “You cannot go anywhere, delirious like that; you need rest.”

“What I need is a pint of bitter,” Yellowhead asserted, “at the local Weatherforks; the Sulk Mercilessly is the closet, I believe. I hold faith the tacky establishments of Sir Timothy Martian will at least hold the final outpost of jingoistic indoctrinated knuckle-draggers who conceal their ill-educated grammatical errors by memes and typing with caps-lock on. There I will build a Boris army, and march to County Hall to take back what is rightfully ours!”

Briggs corrected him in an anxious whisper. “Sir,” he murmured.

“What is it now, Briggs?”

“It’s like, County Hall, man.”

“What about it?”

“Well,” Briggs slurred.

“Out with it!” Yellowhead snapped, “I haven’t got all day, Briggs. If all hope in you is truly lost, I must lone defend the righteousness and decency of conservatism, and for which I need a militia!”

Briggs closed his eyes and declared, “there is no County Hall, dude. I travelled to Trow Vegas via our van. While a Miltshire Council exists, only in an online sense, it serves the independent group I aforementioned, with, erm, well, rather insignificant and trivial issues, recycling collections, public sawdust toilet locations and so forth. Where County Hall is located in our dimension, an ecological    dome exists here, housing thousands of plant species within an enclosure emulating a rainforest biome.”

“I refuse to except such an eyesore could ever exist in Trow Vegas, unless I see it with my own eyes, Briggs,” Yellowhead responded with tenacity. “I’m not even going to inquire as to the fate of Nandos.” With that, Yellowhead marched out of the tipi and headed off in the direction of the Sulk Mercilessly. Unwillingly but supposing it’s for the best, Briggs followed behind him.

The doors of the public house burst off, as Yellowhead bounded inside yelling, “COME, my worthy purists, and hide no longer! Your new leader is here to reclaim this disgraced town from its depths of depravity and sin! Together thou shall build an army of virtue and morality, on England’s green and pleasant land, we will restore faith in traditionist and capitalist conception, for the good of the county, the Queen and humble Prime Minster, Sir Boris Johnson. Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each Johnny foreigner’s stroke, Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves Britons never, never, never will be slaves, Rule, Britannia! Britannia rule the waves, Britons never, never, never will be slaves!”

A scrawny hippy cleaning tables looked up in shock, “Boris who?”

“Wasn’t there a famous clown called Boris Johnson?” the only punter in the establishment thought out loud.

“The prime minister!” Yellowhead asserted, “Sir Boris….”

“Like, sorry to have to correct you, pal,” the hippy replied, “Greta Thumberger is the prime minister of Britain, deffo. Now, if you’d like to take a seat, the special today is a vegan emerald dal.”

“I demand British beef!” Yellowhead irately ordered, while Briggs facepalmed behind him.

“They won’t sell meat, sir,” Briggs said, “no one does here.”

Backtracking the discussion to a point his mind originally refused to allow his ears to fully register, Yellowhead looked aghast at Briggs, “did, did, did he just say, Greta Thumberger is the prime minster of Britain?”

“Steady yourself,” Briggs replied.

The chief councillor felt faint once more, perching a hand on the nearest table. “Did you keep Nora’s cyanide pill, Briggs?”

“It seems a liberal system is nationwide, at the very least, sir,” Briggs explained, “here, Greta was born in Surrey, and became prime minister aged thirteen.”

“And a damn fine one she is too,” remarked the hippy employee, “our boss is friends with her, great woman, makes sure we all get our national living wage and all branches adhere to the global minimum labour standard.”

“National living what now?!” Yellowhead outraged, “Leftie piffle! You mean to tell me such is this wretched gangrene economic and socialist revolution, you all accept the same wage, despite I might be in a managerial position of power and responsibility, and you, you, plebs clean tables in a bar?!”

“Hey man!” the employee stressed, “we work together, no one is any better than anyone else, no clean table, nowhere nice for the dude in a managerial position of power and responsibility to eat his lunch!”

“On an equal national wage,” Briggs informed his boss, “everyone is content, everyone does a job they like, least don’t mind, and there’s no hierocracy, so there’s no revolution needed, there’s no contempt or jealousy for someone higher up the ladder, because to them, there is no ladder.”

Yellowhead took his time to look around. The pub décor was well worn, antique without the phoney standard kitsch traditional model Weatherforks is renowned for. Briggs thought it was quaint, Yellowhead wouldn’t confess, but as a traditionalist, he felt it the only genuine place he had seen since falling into the pothole. Then, he noted a Guardian newspaper on the oak table, and any hope he would feel at home here vanished. 

“Well, dreadlock my pubes and call me Billy Ocean!” Yellowhead exclaimed, getting further and further irate. “Just what the blazers is going on in here? I thought this would be the place, I really thought, if there’s anywhere in this crazy perdition left with decent, conservative morals, it would be here. But you tell me ecowarrior snowflake Greta Thumberger is prime minister, she gives you all the same petty wage, from plate-washer to managing director, and you’re all happy with that, and, it’s no wonder, really, isn’t it? It’s no wonder at all when you’re filling your head….” The chief councillor repeatedly beat the newspaper with his index finger, “…. with this sadistic liberalistic permissiveness and radicalised exuberant balderdash!”

“Stand back,” advised Briggs to the worker.

But Yellowhead defused. “Fine! I will take my campaign elsewhere! Weatherforks indeed, weathercocks more like!”

Briggs called his boss back; in hope he might respond well. “Man, you’re gonna like, have to get on groovy train and like, yeah, like dig it pretty soon, man. This is, like the way it is here, and that’s, like, that!”

Yellowhead turned on his foot and pointed a stern finger at his senior. “I will never, ever accept it, you feeble-minded, incoherent jester!”

“Where will you go? No one can, like, help you, man.”

Yellowhead held his breath, “I will bite my bottom lip, as I never thought I’d ever suggest such a desperate concept as this, never dreamed I’d be in such a dreadful position to do so, but the time is nigh, I swallow my pride, forget my deliberations and call to order the single most desperate cause of action a county councillor could, ever! I will call for a meeting, and I will listen to the others!”

Briggs laughed, “is that it?! Who with? Yourself, Yellowhead?!”

“No, traitor!” Yellowhead nodded, “with the Davizes Town Council!”

“No!” Briggs cried, “how could you stoop so low?”

“I am and I will!” Yellowhead asserted. “I will face the music, head-on, I will seek council with the ones no one dares do business with, the Guardians of the Galaxy!” And with that closing statement, councillor Yellowhead stormed out of the Sulk Mercilessly.”

“Man,” Briggs sighed, “I think they’re just the Davizes Guardians, rather than, like, the, you know, guardians of the, as you said, galaxy!” 

“Bad karma,” added the Weatherforks worker, handing Briggs a joint.


Will our intrepid hero survive a face-to-face with the Davizes Town Council? Is there any hope for his trusty sidekick, or has he been fully brainwashed by leftie terrorists? Will this story ever truly end, because you’ve the washing to do? Find out next Sunday in what we can only hope and pray will be our finale episode of The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead: The Case of the Pam-Dimensional Pothole!


Trending….

Song of the Day 35: The Jamestown Brothers

With tracks for the charity compilation album coming in thick n fast, time for me to take a break, sit with the family to watch the Jumanji rework, again. Hum, Ruby Roundhouse….But before my mind wanders too much, here’s my song of the day.

It has no video, best guessing it doesn’t matter, you’ll feel preoccupied with footstomping and guzzling cider from a plastic gallon container. Americana meets west country folk, scrumpy & western, this is nothing but a carefree enjoyable bop, done with bells on.

Looks from here like they’re a staggering nine-piece, suspect fibbers about being brothers, but two seconds into this beauty and even that won’t matter, even if you did bring ya mama, who’d probably just complain about her feet the whole way through.

Go give em a Facebook like, for more info on the shindigs you’ll hear them pluck their geetars at, and based on this tune alone, you know it’s going to go off.

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


Devizine to Release Various Artists Compilation, 4 Julia’s House

If it’s been a quiet week here at Devizine Towers, it’s not because we remain in the perpetual Groundhog Day of lockdown, things are beginning to open up and folk are gathering to take advantage. Time will tell if we’ve made the right move, and fingers are crossed, but we surely have to attempt to emerge from his global hibernation. Rather, I’ve been away for the week, playing the grandad role on the single most tranquil UK holiday camp getaway ever!

Don’t get me wrong, even with restrictions, it’s been lovely nonetheless. Now, I’m back, back like a bad smell on your shoe rack, and if you think I’ve been lazing around watching paint dry, you’re not totally wrong. But I do have an exciting announcement, which has kept me out of trouble for the last fortnight.

The announcement might be something more suitable for lockdown, but despite, I’m feeling this blossoming project is definitely heading in the right direction. We’ve 24 tracks kindly contributed already for a compilation album of local or music related to Devizine, however tenacious, subjects we’ve reviewed or covered in the past, or we simply love! Binding them together and hopefully presenting them as soon as feasible on one chunky download album via the most brilliant website, Bandcamp.

It’ll be a cross-genre extravaganza of music, and you’ve not even heard the best bit about it. To explain that bit I need to first stress my eternal gratitude and thanks to the wonderful artists already freely contributed a song for this, and those planning to. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the really, really good bit; get this, all proceeds, 100% of them will go to Julia’s House.

Tree Image by Wolfgang Hasselman

Julia’s House is not a typical children’s hospice. They provide practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, providing frequent and regular support in their own homes, in the community or at our hospices across Dorset and Wiltshire.

Devizine asks musicians and bands, be they locally based or otherwise, to send us an original song for us to add the already bulging track list, if you’ve one to spare. I’m fully aware the pressure is already on artists at this time, but I’m not asking you to create a tune especially, or give away something which is currently selling well. It could be pre-released from an album or an older single you have; just something in your archives, you wouldn’t mind allowing us to use.

I’m being harassed about a deadline, we should set one, although I firmly detest the word deadline! Let’s pencil in 15th May, so if you’ve a song you’d like to throw at us, please do send a WAV file if possible, mp3 if not, by then. Send via We Transfer or Google Drive to: devizine@hotmail.com

But don’t despair if you cannot make the gig. With the popularity of this project to date, I’m looking in my crystal ball and predicting a volume two on the cards.

Only thing I will ask you to bear in mind, if thinking of contributing, is that this is for a children’s charity, and while I’m not expecting The Wheels on the Bus, please avoid swearing like sailor. No NWA tribute acts, please!

It gives me great delight to tell you we have many fantastic songs already sent to us, a mahoosive thanks to everyone who’s bunged us a tune, and so many others who have promised to, shortly. A full track listing with details and links will follow nearer to launchpad day, but for now, I’m excited to let you know local legend Pete Lamb provides an apt title track, Julia, (actually it’s Julie, but who’s splitting hairs, I’m renaming it!) for which he’s teamed up Cliff Hall, pianist for The Shadows; a glorious benchmark to open with.

Other artists featuring, to date are The King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Mr Tea & The Minions, Talk in Code, Timid Deer, Kirsty Clinch, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, Cutsmith, The Oyster, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show and Richard Wileman.

UPDATE:

Wow, as of Monday 19th May, we now have a staggering 37 tracks contributed. The list now looks like this: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Will Lawton, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, The Oyster, Nigel G. Lowndes, The Birth of Bonoyster, Revival, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Cutsmith, Big Ship Alliance and Knati P.

And there’s more in the pipeline, hopefully creating a hefty genre-busting mega-box set!! So, please be part of it if you can, and bung us your song! More the merrier. Thank you! Oh, I love it when a plan comes together.


Trending…..

Asa is Back in Devizes

Give or take a week, it’s been two years since Devizes Corn Exchange reverberated rock n roll when Liverpool’s entertainer Asa Murphy presented his Buddy Holly tribute show. An amazing fundraising night, in dedication to local music hero Bruce Hopkins, the show had perfect renditions of Buddy’s songs wrapped in a simple narrative to set the scenes, and by the end, Age Concern need not be called as young and old, the audience danced in the aisles!

Deja-vu on many preview pieces we wrote about this time last year, including announcing Asa set to return without the Buddy specs in April with a variety performance and handpicked guest appearances.

Obviously and sadly, it couldn’t be, but I’m pleased to now re-announce the Corn Exchange is booked for this show on October 16th, and will feature the original lineup; superb sixties singer, Sandy Collins and Lennie Anderson, an excellent comic.
Tickets are on sale at Devizes Books, which you can call to secure your seats until the shop is bookshop is open again for business.

For more details you could check last year’s preview, by clicking here; saves me writing it all again, but don’t look directly at the old date, look around that date and concentrate your mind on October 16th 2021! Oh, and I hope to see you there!


The Ruzz Guitar Sessions; Going to the City

Driving home through Devizes last week, it’s only 10pm but I contemplate, it could be three in the morning it’s deathly silent. Our once lively little market town, like everywhere else, has lost a sparkle due to the pandemic; hope it can rekindle is all that is left. And now, the Facebook memories fires a bittersweet reminder at me, for even if you paint only a rose-tinted view of your life on the social media giant, a memory still pops up which is kind of sad on reflection.

Musically, blues is apt.

Thought was fairly stable that evening proved wrong. That memory was a wobbly video of the absolutely blinding night when Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue blew, or blue, perhaps, the roof off the Sports Club, aided by a supergroup of Innes Sibun, Jon Amor and Pete Gage. It was in a word, treasured. The sadness being, at the time it was only speculation it could be the final night of live music, and I didn’t want or care to digest that notion at the time, but it was; way to go out with style, though!

Now we’ve come around to the anniversary of that moment, with a prospective reopening light at the end of tunnel, primarily being only a possibility. Yet the world turns on its axis, and music has, like so many other arts, been forced to change methods of distribution. The live stream, the Zoom recording session, and, for an extremely short summer stint, an afternoon solo session in a socially distanced pub when we were disillusioned into believing the virus was on its way out, have become the norm.

As many others, Ruzz Guitar has adapted, and a Facebook group called the RG Sessions aims to launch a new style of assemblies, producing the exceptionally high-quality electric blues we’ve come to expect from the Blues Revue. You can buy them a virtual pint, and you can grab this gorgeous name-your-price single, which features all the musicians as on that fateful night. And in a way, it’s so good it near makes up for the depressing notion of this live music loss.

With the expert gritty vocals of keyboardist Pete Gage, “If You’re Going To The City,” also features our homegrown guitarists Innes Sibun and Jon Amor, with Ruzz’s proficient Blues Revue members, drummer Mike Hoddinott, bassist Richie Blake and Michael Gavaghan on sax. And with that said, I don’t feel the need to review it, take it as red, they’re the ingredients for perfection.

After the previous spellbinding single with Peter, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, we live in hope this faultless coupling will be retained for more of the same. But what surprises these Sessions will magically pull from their sleeves next will keep us guessing; I’d advise you follow the page for updates.


The Return of Local Live Music; should I add a question mark?

“But I’m bidin’ my time

‘Cause that’s the kinda guy I’m

While other folks grow dizzy

I keep busy

Bidin’ my time,”

George Gershwin

It’s important, I think, not to get over-excited, but I understand and expect a major outbreak of momentary bipolar disorder from myself and many others when we look somewhere over the rainbow at the prospect of events restarting, and live music in particular.

How the next few months pan out will be crucial to this concept of returning to normality, and we all play the part of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2; Judgement Day, when she said, “the unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope.” Hereafter the bit about a Terminator learning the value of human life is inconsequential to our particular occasion, but maybe has some relevance. We have to hold it down, guys, we have to be like little Fonzies here, and as Samuel L Jackson will ask you, Yolanda, what’s Fonzie like?

If we charge this thing it could backfire. It was heart-breaking and annoying too, running through our event calendar deleting everything, and despite the concern I’m going to be a busy bee updating it when events actually start happening, I’m like George Gershwin, biding his time. This said, you should note month-to-month the event calendar is far from void, there’s lots of live streams, online events and popup kitchens to check out; do not abandon it. But, and this a big but, bigger than the butt of Rod Stewart and Jennifer Lopez’s lovechild, we should keep in mind the word of the day is possibilities, and nothing should be set in concrete yet.

Still the local rag seems more gung-ho than me, which is odd until you figure they’ve staff to pay, advertisers to appease and content must be attractive. As I write this, they announce the headline “Fulltone Festival will be back in town this summer!” as I’m sure you’ll all be happy to hear this news, planning to go ahead on the 28th and 29th August, as am I, but I worry for the word “will” in this piece of clickbait, because right now can we really say will?

Look, my ol’ mucker, I don’t want to pop your bubble of optimism, I’m just playing the realist. Tomorrow sees schools and higher education heading back out; how strict testing will be, given pupils will test themselves in some circumstances, the same pupils who created the user-name “reconnecting,” so teachers would think they’re having connection issues with their online class! The R-rating hinges on this moment and its success, ergo the rest of this so-called roadmap does.

The second part of this giant step, on the 29th March includes the use of outdoor swimming pools, for example, but pubs won’t reopen until step 2 on April 12th. How are fifty-plus bods dribbling into a swimming pool safer than a socially distanced pint in your local? There’s inconsistences and flaws, to be expected, the further the pitch extends, but the wording is all made up of “we hope,” and “the government will look to continue easing limits,” there is no “Will,” therefore no media outlet should be using the word, unless mass hysteria is what they want.

The COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) on Gov.UK is quite clear, “in implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change.” Yet bands are getting bookings, events are being arranged, money is being pumped into thin ice. The Victoria in Swindon is planning a comeback with Ion Maiden, Iron Maiden tribute on 14th May, but The Tuppenny aren’t announcing yet. Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes haven’t added anything on Facebook until 7th August, when the brilliant Strange Folk are booked, whereas same band are the only thing to be listed at Devizes Southgate on 9th October.

But can you rely on the Fakebook as a source? Southgate landlady Deborah has been “quietly booking up bands,” with seventeen in the pipeline to date, starting from 22nd May. “This year,” she explained, “we’re concentrating almost entirely on just one gig per week. The earliest gigs will be outside with early evening start and finish times, but we hope to get back to our pre-COVID timings as soon as possible.”

The Long Street Blues Club state “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” aiming to restart their program on Saturday 18th September with the popular Billy Walton Band. This is brilliant news, but here, I believe is where the boundary lies, the smaller pub and club gigs. The idea of large-scale concerts and festivals, and upholding conditions are simply incalculable, for some.

Devizes Scooter Club have sadly cancelled their brilliant rally, as organiser Adam Ford said after making the decision in February, “even if it were allowed to proceed, we feel it will not be possible to host any event to the standard we would want to, and that attendees deserve.” There’s a similar feeling at Devizes CAMRA who have cancelled the Beer Festival. This is, sad but true, the exact logical response we should respect from those in the responsibility of organising events, well done to them both.

One should follow the lead of the Eavis family, experts in, quite literally, their field. If Glasto says no, then you, as an organiser should perhaps take heed. Meanwhile, Lydiard Park in Swindon is set for MFor 2021 is set as early as 31st July, and tickets are 50% sold. They remain adamant they’ve not the massive structure and organisation as Glasto, and will proceed with social distancing measures in operation. What I am questioning with these events still on the agenda, will we need proof of vaccination, as we’re a long way from vaccinating the country? Unless you imagine an evening with only over-70s going to watch Craig David, it’s a melon twister.

Talking with Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music, he stated, “the proof question hasn’t been answered by the Music Venue Trust yet, so there is no guidance or anything for the venues to base their decisions on. We can’t do gigs until May either, so still plenty of time for the working outs to begin.” Sheer has something in pipeline in Frome at the end of June, but isn’t really resurfacing until the highly anticipated Jon Gomm gig with support from The Lost Trades at Trowbridge’s Emmanuel’s Yard on the 15th October.

Satisfied that their safety measures conformed to the government regulations last Summer, the Southgate will do the same this time around. “Government guidelines have not yet been published,” Deborah said. “Unless we are required to do so, we have no intention whatsoever of  demanding proof of vaccination.”

Loz of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, who give us the unforgettable carnival, street festival and winter ales events, among others is looking forward to coming back “to help us make amazing things happen in the future.” She said, “I’ve spent every spare minute searching for and writing funding applications to ensure DOCA can relaunch at the end of this crazy blip in our history. I’m currently working on an Arts Council Cultural Recovery Bid; it’s a lot of work and I am supported by our fantastic Trustees whenever I have a question I stall on.”

But still, carnival in Devizes hangs in the ropes. But this is how it has to be, unfortunately. Believe me, I am adamant my next gig will not be when a kindly lady wheels her Bontempi organ into my care home to recite Bridge over Troubled Water, all I’m urging people to do is keep things in perspective and not raise their hopes, or more-so, let their guard down, just yet.


Trending…

Basil Brush Missing

Much loved television presenter and comedian, Sir Basil Brush is reported missing and not been seen for four days. His family and friends are deeply concerned for his welfare, following recent claims the superstar was feeling “anxious and suicidal.” They call for anyone with any idea of his whereabouts to contact them or the police with information, not matter how minor.

Basil’s last known whereabouts, pictured with Wiltshire PCC candidate Johnathon Seed

Above is a photograph of Basil’s last known location, recently invited to the Wiltshire village of Bromham, for “a nice cup of tea and biscuits,” by local police crime commissioner candidate, Johnathon Seed. Mr Seed said he was saddened to hear of his disappearance, he was a bubbly character, full of life and who loved the thrill of the chase. “He made his way west,” Mr Seed informed, “I believe he said he was heading for Chippenham. So, I replied tally-ho, and off he went. I haven’t seen him since.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said, “it is entirely possible, this news story is a spoof, created to mock the beloved field sport pastimes of the conservative candidate. I should point out Mr Seed has never been convicted of any illegal activity involving hunting, despite his association with various local hunts groups, his vigorous campaign to legalise it, and oh, the photos of him in full huntsman uniform amidst a group of hounds, carrying a slaughtered fox.”

“If this story turns out to be a hoax,” they went on to say, “it is a terrible waste of police time, in organising a search team for Sir Brush, and we have one thing to say to the perpetrator of the scoop; Ha-Ha-Ha! Boom! Boom!”


Amusing as it may be, hunting is no laughing matter. Support your local hunt sab groups. Our one today shared news of this terrible incident, where a Cornish hunter’s hounds killed a domestic cat, and he threw it over the neighbour’s fence. What a friendly country gent….


Trending….

Happy 50th Anniversary Devizes Lions!

Join me in thanking and congratulating The Devizes Lions in celebrating fifty years of serving the community.

Two members of DEVIZES LIONS Club have together amassed over 100 years of voluntary service to the local community. This milestone has been reached during the year in which the Club marks the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Soon after the Club formed in 1970 David Bousfield joined, and John Hurley did so a few months later. Over the years they have helped to organise many Lions’ events, including assisting individuals and groups in need of practical or financial help as well as organising large scale events such as Gymkhanas and the May and Christmas Fayres

David was President of the Club in 1984 and again in 2014. Like many of the Lions, David is well known in other fields. He is a solicitor with Wansbroughs in Devizes and has lived in Potterne for many years, he is a former trustee of the Wiltshire Community Foundation and governor of Devizes School. A keen sportsman, he was previously a county hockey player and remains a keen golfer.

John was President of the Club in 1977, and now lives in New Park Street. He was Engineer & Surveyor to the former Devizes Rural District Council and then Kennet District Council. With his late wife Beryl he was active in the establishment of the Wharf Theatre and they were also leading figures in the Wiltshire family history scene, transcribing and publishing many records and giving talks over much of the country.

Both John and David remain active Club members preparing for the restart of the Club’s public activities and its next 50 years helping local individuals, families and groups in need of support.


Song of the Day 15: The Emertarians

Anytime is a good time for some roots reggae, Sunday morning, doublely so.

Enter one of my favourite current reggae bands, from Madrid, the Emertarians.

They always remind me of an occasion, at a festival in Andalusia. I watched this great French reggae band. The slighty rotound frontman looked rather like the late, great Jacob Miller. After the performance I noted he was standing close to me, watching the following act. I went over in hope of telling him how much I enjoyed their music, praying they spoke English.

I momentarily regretted my school French lessons, which I spent making homemade comics out of text books, as he replied with an adamant no upon asking if he spoke English.

All the vocabulary my intoxicated mind could conjour was “tres bien,” so I repeated it perpetually in true Del-Boy fashion!

Otherwise the meeting was the awkward silence of communication breakdown, in which I suspected they thought I was completely nuts. Not so far from the truth.

So, I namedropped Jacob Miller and suddenly we had understanding and mutual respect for the man. My point is, sometimes the Emertarians sing in Spanish and sometimes English, often the Spanish ones more emotive, but reggae has no language barriers, because it’s spiritual meaning and uplifting ambiance is universal. As with the French Jacob Miller-alike, we were on the same song sheet….

Naturally at that conjunction, I rolled a joint.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 8: Mansion of Snakes

The deeper I delve into Afrobeat the more gorgeous it gets, and I’m discovering bands closer to home. Nubiyan Twist, for example, who are from Oxford rather than the Sudan as it might sound. I’m loving this sound, and got to get a review down of their forthcoming album.

Today though, check Leeds ten-piece behemoth, bone-shaking afrobeat collective, Mansion of Snakes. These devil-funk and cosmic jazz 
serpents give it their all, and there’s stuff, cool stuff to download as name your price on their Bandcamp page. Say no more.

Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 2: The Big Ship Alliance and Johnny2Bad, featuring Robbie Levi and Stones

Newly-formed just a year ago, this Birmingham-based seven piece reggae band, Big Ship Alliance started out as possibly the only tribute act to reggae legend Freddie McGregor, but on track to record their own material they’ve teamed up with the outstanding UB40 tribute act, Johnny2Bad for this gorgeous topical debut single.

Featuring Robbie Levi and Stones, aside from my love of all things reggae, the song’s positive message of togetherness and unification during this era of the pandemic makes it more than apt for my second “song of the day” post. Though I did say I wasn’t intending to write anything like a review on this feature, just let you enjoy the tunes, and this is kinda heading a little bit “reviewy.” Probably cos it’s such a nice tune.

I also promised not to waffle; but I’m here now. Something about having your cake and eating it goes in rather appropriately at this point!

More so than being my song of the day, I believe this should be, as the Big Ship Alliance say themselves, “the anthem for 2021!”

Determined to make this feature a goer, as of yesterday’s pledge to add a song each day, ingeniously titled “song of the day.” I know, right, it scares me at times, I’ll be honest!

So, enjoy this fantastic tune, let the good vibes roll and have a great rest of the day. Same time tomorrow then?

Very good. Carry on….

Wiltshire Council Ask Gecko For Road-Crossing Song.

Not to make you feel old or anything, but Tufty, the safe road-crossing squirrel turns sixty this year, the Green Cross Code Man is not far behind at 51. Not too long before they’ll need some assistance crossing the road themselves, I don’t doubt!

Popular as retrospection is, Wiltshire Council have rightfully recognised a CJI Tufty makeover might not be best, and the Green Cross Code man is fighting his own conflicting interests between the Sith and Jedi.

How to teach kids to cross the road safely, needs a fresh approach….

They assigned Creative Studios to come up with this little masterpiece of a green cross code safety vid, and I couldn’t think of anyone more apt than the mighty Gecko to produce the song.

Yep, this works on so many levels. “I loved being a part of this project,” Gecko said, “I love the variety that this music life brings.” Well done Gecko, and a great choice by Wiltshire Council.

Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April