Remembering Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumpkins & Poppies with Devizes Town Band

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

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

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

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

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


Win 2 Tickets; Click Here!

Trending Now….

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Unique exhibition to open at Wiltshire Museum

Featured Image: The Westbury White Horse © Towner Eastbourne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exhibition ends on 30 January 2022.


win 2 tickets here

Trending…..

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

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

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

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

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

Absolutely Pukka; Death of Guitar Pop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Win two Free Tickets here

Trending…..

Full-Tone Orchestra Give It What’s For!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Trending…..

What’s Happening in September?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good September!


Trending….

Disenchanted Webb

Swindon’s one-man red-hot chilli pepper, Webb is about to blow your mind, speakers and pants off with his new EP Disenchanted; I’ve heard it, and live to tell the tale…. First impressions last, and I’m … Continue reading “Disenchanted Webb”

Help DOCA Brighten up Devizes; An Art Project for all Ages….

Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts are asking budding crafters and artists to help brighten up the town.

“Devizes is usually festooned with hanging baskets at this time of year,” they point out, “but they have been a bit absent since Covid struck and we miss them and all the colour they bring to the town. It got us thinking! We would like to create something equally colourful to decorate the streets of Devizes at our events, and we’d love your help to do this.”

There are two ways you can do this… 

Make flowers: They are asking anyone of any age to make flowers, so they can make beautiful garlands to drape over the barriers. You can make them out of anything, any size big or small, and DOCA will assemble them.

Materials that can stand getting wet and don’t take too long to dry are the best, old carrier bags, sweet wrappers, used foil wrapping paper, coffee wrappers whatever you can find. We know we have a talented bunch of folk in Devizes and we’d love to see what you come up with for this project. You can drop off your flowers at the Kingfisher Café on Devizes Wharf. Please try and avoid their busy lunch time periods. 

Draw pictures: DOCA invites children of 8 years or under to draw pictures of circus characters, performers or other festival or DOCA related things. They will pick out the best artwork and work with a graphic designer to make a montage which will be printed on gauzes to decorate the dull barriers  they use to divide up their events. Please send images as Jpegs.  

DOCA need your work to be sent in digital format, so you can scan it or take a picture and send it. The email to send your artwork to is docadevizes@gmail.com

More information here.


Please include your name and the age of the artist and even a photo of them holding the work and they’ll share it on their social media… I’d love to see them too!


Football Fever; How are we Celebrating?

Everyone has their own ways and methods of supporting England in the Euro finals; hanging flags and bunting, drinking far too much lager and intending to be comatose by 8pm, having loud fun, causing chaos and trashing the place, as is the British way (!), forgetting there’s this silly little deadly pandemic thing, etc. Will it come back to haunt us? Perhaps, but right now the country is gripped with football fever.

Some have decided to use it to political point score, I’m trying my upmost to ignore the gammonites and hypocritical ministers. Some MPs have gone into hiding as they don’t like the gestures of equality, and Richard Branson has gone into space; it’s the gift that keeps giving!

But how are we celebrating around these parts? Who has an original, unique or creative project to share, peaceful even?! Do let us know and I might, just add them here! I said “might.” I don’t want any images of you puking up in the shape of the St George’s flag, thanks. Neither do I want you messaging me after 8pm! Anyhoo, here’s what I’ve found so far…..


Well, Bath’s Da Fuchaman & His Fire Blaze Band are on fire with this song, Kick the ball – Football Is Coming Home (England football song)


Devizes mini-roundabouts have been given a St George’s Cross makeover, by an unknown street/piss artist, (delete as appropriate!) but whoever you are, Red Cross Code Man, good on you, just remember to stop, look and listen.


Devizes poet Gail Foster has an amusing Gareth Southgate sonnet for you, at least it turns her attentions away from Danny Kruger!


The Southgate Inn, Devizes has temporarily changed its name to the Gareth Southgate Inn!


Rowde Parish Councillor John Dalley has decided to reembark on a fundraising mission he did a decade ago, travelling the country on motorbike visiting all 92 football league clubs of England. Thinking bigger, John wants to visit every club in the UK this time. We wish you all the best, John, and we should report more fully on your amazing efforts in due course.

John Dalley, on the road ten years ago.

Salisbury Cathedral admire the detail of their beautiful stained glass windows, noting the Three Lions based in the west window. The vibrant shield dates back to the 1260s and represents Henry III’s coat of arms.


Royston Bolwell says his daughter said, “Italy will win,” as they make the best pizza! I’m not sure about the patriotism, but I like the idea. I told my daughter we’d get a Massimos if Italy win!

Talking Massimos, they’re ready for the European Cup with some apt looking cookies.


Request-artist Jim’ll Paint It painted football coming home with a bucket of vindaloo to find his wife in bed with another sport, as requested by fan Louis Simmons. Which isn’t local I know, but I liked it so much!


There’s a campaign to rename London “Sterlingrad” if England win the euros! You may think it’s a joke, because it probably is, but it’s got near on 3,000 signatures too date!


And a great song from Neville and Sugary Staple, from the Specials: The Lions Roar!


And finally, a message for the England squad from some of the kids at Tyrone Ming’s Academy, Bristol. Lets not forget Tyrone first played for Chippenham.

Wishing the England squad all the best of luck from Devizine!


Oh yeah, and Mickety McSpangle of the Boot Hill All Stars and Sounds of the Wilderness show on West Wilts Radio, wanted me to show off his “massive facking cake” he, or his better half has been busy making; you ledge, mate! Something to be very proud of…


Trending….

OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

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

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

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

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

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

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

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

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


Click for info on Julia’s House

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

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

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

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


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

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

https://mrloveandjustice.com/the-homepage


23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

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

https://barmypark.bandcamp.com/


24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

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


25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

Daydream Runaways

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


26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

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


27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

Longcoats

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


28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

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


29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

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


30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

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


31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

Image by Justin Smythe

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


32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

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


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

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

 


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


Song of the Day 40: Dry White Bones

Venturing over to the Barge tonight to catch crazy corsets and getars shenanigans with the Boot Hill All Stars. So, to get me in the mood, supporting act Dry White Bones gets our song of the day…. yee-ha!

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


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…

Gull Able

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

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!


Trending….

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.


Trending……

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 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…..

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…..