Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Boo! Spooky Halloween Happenings for Everyone!

    Fantastic and spooky image of St Johns, Devizes, used with permission from Simon Folkard Photography

    I say everyone, but it’s the inbetweenies always at a loss during Halloween, I tend to find. Too old for patronising trick or treating, only a handful of idiots, sulking at their lack of Harbio, who opt for the terrorising old folk kind, which spoils it for them, and for younger kids too, when everyone under the age of eighteen is tarnished with the same witch’s broom.

    Yet too young to attend adult Halloween parties, which we all know, generally end up as mindless drunken satanic orgies, full of naked chicks pouring the blood of scarified male counterparts over themselves in a hellfire pit of inequity to the sound of evil giggling, and thrash metal roaring from the rafters…. at least, in my mind it does.

    What?! I’m speculating, I wouldn’t know whether they break out the leather, or not. I grew up in a household where the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain was considered American commercialisation, and since escaping the nest I built my own, whereby on All Hallows’ Eve I don a beanie and wander aimlessly in the background, as “protector” parent of hyperactive children, getting ecstatic about being out under street light.

    I awkwardly grimaced at housekeepers like a vagabond, as neighbours loaded their pumpkin-shaped buckets with cheap confectionary they don’t like anyway. We’d join chains of other trick or treaters, my watchful duties waning with each grouping; safety in numbers I’d suppose perfunctorily, as I tire and they run off in merriment and sugar-fuelled frenzy. Responsibility is a bitch.

    I’ve got cheap, Wilkos luminous paint on my jersey from a leaking zombie, whose mask is sagging where they broke the elastic, otherwise I blur into the background and children organise themselves, until one genuinely gets scared, and I get to return home, ignore door-knocking and slope on the sofa, groaning like a headless horseman, wishing one day they’ll grow out of it.

    And before you know what’s what, they do, and you pity the complaining, realise you miss the thrill in their eyes, and await the welcomed subsequent phase, grandchildren, when you hope them to provide the perfect excuse to get back out trick or treating again; by this age you need no mask or makeup, but you can return them sugar-bursting; mwahahaha!

    Anyway, enough of my problems, you came here wanting to hear about all the spooky events and monster mashes going down over the Samhain, and that’s what I’m about to do, just, you know, had to get that off my chest.

    Although if I’ve missed yours, I can always add them, if you liked, just message, email or howl under the full moon when the wind is blowing my direction, but the first “halloweeny” type event we’ve found, is All Cannings’ Pre-School Half term Halloween Trail, starting on 23rd October and running until the 30th. Take your little ones to All Cannings, buy a trail map from the village shop and walk the village looking for clues to spell a spooky word! Put your completed maps into our box at the back of the village hall for your chance to win a Halloween prize.

    Leading up to the Halloween weekend, Crazy P’s Ron Basejam brings some Halloween disco to Komedia on Thursday 28th, but Saturday is when the spookiness really comes out to play….

    In Devizes, the trusty Cavalier have a children’s Halloween fancy dress disco, with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl. You’ll need a £3 ticket, available here.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe wonderful DJ, Holz Stone will be on the spooky wheels of steel for the Halloween fancy dress disco at the Wyvern Club. There’ll be hot dogs, burgers and sweet bags, a novel hook-a-skull game, guess the weight of the pumpkin and what’s in the box, as well as best dressed prizes. This one’s £2 per child, on the door.

    For Devizes grownups, over 21s, there’s a DJ set from Houses of Joy Soundsystem at The Muck & Dundar’s Zombie Cocktail Special night. Free entry, walk-ins, favourably like a zombie, and feel free to dress up or down. I think they’ll need an exorcist like me, to purify those spirits!

    And of course, the traditional Krazee Devil Halloween Karaoke Disco will be down the The Pelican, Devizes. Only numbers are limited this year, so if you want to Party Pelicano style this Samhain then shout Sarah-Jane on (01380) 723909.

    The Truzzy Boys welcome fancy dress at their Halloween Party at the Churchill Arms in West Lavington, also on Saturday. Honey-Street’s Barge have a monster mash rock ‘n’ roll Halloween party, with Little Miss Blue Bass, Mutley and Rockin Rich. Best dressed wins a £20 bar tab, which beats a bucket of Freddos. They want only £6 off you for the pleasure, tickets here.

    Meanwhile, over misty graveyards and ancient burial mounds to Bradford-on-Avon, where the Three Horseshoes host Strange Folk for a Halloween party. If you checked them out last weekend at the Southgate, or read our review, you’ll know this will be a great, and very apt Halloween venture. It should go without saying by now, its fancy dress, with a prize for best dressed.

    In spooky Swindon, The Swiss Chalet have one hell of a show from 2pm onwards. Train to Skaville, The DayBreakers, Hip Replacements and Mark Colton bring the skalloween tunes, all in aid of the fantastic Big Yellow Bus Project. Door tax is just a quid, with mac n cheese and a chance to win a Nintendo Switch!

    Vampires and zombies of Frome only need head to The Cornerhouse, where they’ll find the highly recommended Back Wood Redeemers, with a dark country, twisted blues and religious fervor eve of Halloween. Expect special guests and they’ll be introducing the MagiGant Ska Sound System. There will be dancing afoot! Bring your relevant body parts and dress up should the whim arise… you’ll be in good company.

    But not everyone wants dancing afoot, and for a relaxed meal-type Halloween event, Rowde’s legendary George & Dragon have a Rocky Horror Tunnel Party, in, as the name suggests, their secret, aptly spooky, tunnel. Dress up in your favourite horror costumes for a three-course BMF supper, and a party to follow.

    And on the Sunday, the 31st, The Roebuck Inn, Marlborough, has a Halloween Open mic Night, while over in Market Lavington’s Green Dragon, there will be all sorts of spooky bonkers things going on all day, perfect for kids and grown up kids alike; with the fantastic People Like Us playing from 8pm.

    I’m sure that list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll add your event if you tell me about it. Otherwise have a grand Halloween, and as I say, I’ll be maxing relaxing, safe in the knowledge my kids now consider themselves too old for the trick or treating fiasco. I mean, I’m not naming and shaming, but one of my nippers must be the only person who can lose a tooth bobbing for apples, for crying out loud into the cold night air!


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

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

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

    Thursday – Saturday, 18-20 November

    2021 DEVIZES EISTEDDFOD

    Music, Speech & Drama Classes

    Devizes Town Hall

    *

    Saturday, 4 December 2021 at 7pm

    2021 FESTIVAL CONCERT

    Devizes Town Hall

    Admission Free – Retiring collection

    *

    Sunday, 30 January 2022 at 3pm

    CLASS WINNERS CONCERT

    Devizes Town Hall

    Admission Free – Retiring collection

    *

    Saturday/Sunday, 5/6 February 2022

    2022 EISTEDDFOD DANCE FESTIVAL

    Lavington School

    Admission £5 (students £2) per day

    (Dance Entries open 25 October 2021)

    *

    Saturday 19 March 2022 at 7.30pm

    SHOWCASE CONCERT

    Bishops Cannings Church

    Admission Free – Retiring Collection

    in aid of the church

    *

    Saturday 9 July 2022 at 7.30pm

    SHOWCASE CONCERT

    Seend Church

    Admission Free – Retiring Collection

    in aid of the church


  • Barry Reviews Strange Folk at The Southgate!

    Well, what can I say? They might lose a couple of brownie points for the singer continuously referring to me as “Barry,” but Somerset-Hampshire psych-folk rock four-piece, Strange Folk, who graced Devizes’ Southgate’s little magic box last night can afford to!

    Aside an acoustic set in Crewkerne, it was their first electric gig post-lockdown, and the first time they’d played at Devizes answer to the O2, though some may cast their minds back to a brighter sunny day when they showed us what they’re made of at Pete & Jackie of Vinyl Realm’s alternative stage at DOCA’s street festival. It was on the grounds of this outstanding performance which summon me to the Gate, not forgoing the awe-inspiring tune they sent us for the Julia’s House compilation. Which, in turn would’ve substituted any lost gold stars for the Barry banter!

    A small price to pay to ensure they played Glitter the very song they kindly contributed, a request which took them by surprise, being recorded during lockdown, they were unprepared, and hadn’t yet played it live. Still, as was the entire gig, they made a grand job of it, and I’m about explain why.

    It’s David Setterfield’s sublime electric and acoustic guitarwork coupled with the awe-inspiring power of Annalise’s voice, which bounds their sound beyond the confounds of the usual gothic-folk rock genre. So soulfully captivating is this voice, and is the gifted guitar, at times there’s a natural nod to electric blues, particularly of the late psychedelic sixties sort. In fact, I was praising them to someone, Bran Kerdhynen, I believe, one half of the Celtic Roots Collective, by suggesting they remind me of “White Rabbit,” which they indeed later covered, along with the other Jefferson Airplane anthem “Somebody to Love.”

    If I could think of no other cover so apt for their particular and inimitable sound, covers of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy, Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac, and the Stones at their most enchanting with Gimmie Shelter, also fit the bill perfectly. Tainted Love being perhaps the outside chance, but very much based on Soft Cell’s version, I’ll give them that too, for the goth perspective.

    Similarly, though, as I said about Frey’s Beer’s Beast album a few days ago, the professional finish and hauntingly alluring female voice, rather than the gritty vocals common with said genre, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured, because Strange Folk sweep the arena of All About Eve, into System of a Down and Blind Melon, to blend Fairport Convention with Jethro Tull and Hendrix. And I was born out of time, loving to have hitchhiked to San Francisco with a flower in my hair.

    Yet at times covers at the Gate last night felt pushed, as to appease a perceived audience, compared to their own original compositions; they were the icing on the cake and truly ushered you away on a petite mind-trip. The coupling of David and Annalise would be bare without the proficient bassist, Ian and drummer, Steve tucked in the back of the skittle ally, and they rocked through their own songs more so. For future reference, unlike many a pub gig, originals are encouraged here.

    Talking of here, it was lovely to be back at the Southgate after gallivanting somewhat to bring news of other venues in our rural precinct, for while they do exist, for me, just like Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, except, it seems for the lead singer on this occasion! I mean, Barry, for crying out loud; do I really look like a Barry to you?! Rhetorical, you don’t have to answer that.

    The canopies over the beer garden have become locally legendary, a testament in our town, to upholding live music throughout this era, and Deborah and Dave have created this haven, where you’ll see no drunken squabbles and feel no bad vibes.

    Nice to hear their communal acoustic jams have respawned on Wednesday evenings, and next Saturday is the time for The Blind Lemon Experience, Billy and the Low Ground following on the 23rd October.

    Meanwhile Strange Folk have three singles, an EP from 2014 called Hollow Part 1, and a debut promo EP from 2004, which are very worthy of your attention. Around our way again at B-O-A’s Three Horseshoes for Halloween, their sound is a gorgeous gothic-folk crossover professional enough to captivate even those with a passing interest in the genre.


  • Nought to 60 with the Near Jazz Experience

    Fooled by my own fool proof system must make me more of a fool than I give myself credit for. It’s an elderly memory malfunction thing, becoming commonplace. Like my lockdown skinhead idea. Skinheads fair as well as a bobcat on us elderly, what with hair sprouting from ears.

    The ingenious strategy to create a word document called “albums which need reviewing” botched by forgetting I’d previous had the same plan and executed it, leaving me with two documents of the same idea differing information. So it goes, like a historic homework excuse, on the previous version I’d simply typed “NJE,” without the usual brief explanation, thinking that’ll warrant me not forgetting this. Rather, I’d forget the whole document and started from scratch, leaving me oblivious to what NJE was supposed to mean upon rediscovering it.

    Abbreviation resolved, ‘twas the Near Jazz Experience mini-album “Nought to 60,” overlooked since June; I stated my defence and I’m sticking by it. Annoying thing is, as anything with the name Terry Edwards attached to it, it’s smoothing right up my street and blowing a saxophone loudly at my front door.

    Near Jazz Experience sees Terry team up with Higsons bandmate Simon Charterton and Mark Bedford from Madness. Names on the tin, you get four lengthy modern jazz pieces of rapture, reminding me somewhat of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, in a mod style. Remember throughout; brass is class.

    The opening ten minute-plus master-jam of cool, Spirit of Indo, pays homage to the London pub birthplace of the NJE, where they played a monthly residency for nine years. Like ambient afro-funk or cumbia it’s got that deep loop running through it, Bedders programmed, Simon embellished the groove, and Terry added the toplines, sliding effortlessly from one horn to another, as is his wont. There’s a real sense of improv here, and it spellbinds you to groove, man.

    The second tune is a moving tribute to David Bowie, an instrumental cover of Five Years, and Simon’s minimalist cymbal-work sustains this fragile melodica melody, it tingles the very innermost of your soul.

    The tempo moves up one notch, for the third track, Tizita, and I immediately call in the spirit of New Mexico jazz with this almost tin solider drum, rolling over the top, yet a little research reveals this is inspired by Ethiopian jazz-legend Mulatu Astatke, who Terry had the pleasure of working with a few years back.

    Shows you how much I know, but I do know what I like, and me causing to ponder the wonder of Miles Davis’ influence, as the finale title track builds in layers to funk, seventies cop show score fashion, with Terry’s sax just freestyling over Teutonic beats on electronic Wave drum, and a Motorik bassline, it’s some seriously cool jazz; very nice indeed, though expected, just annoyed with myself it got mislaid in my inbox till now. Ah well, better late than never.


  • Freya Beer’s Beast

    Driving my inner-goth, I’m comfortable with this, because London-based Freya Beer’s voice is hauntingly alluring, similar to Nina Persson of The Cardigans, or more obviously, Siouxsie Sioux, rather than the gritty vocals common with arch art-rock. So, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured this long-awaited debut album, Beast, with the emotive response it evokes, and thoroughly deserves cathedral-sized praise.

    Beast is out today, 7th October 2021, via her own Sisterhood label. I’m going to nail it to a few words after only an initial listen prior to this review, lyrically it needs time to fully digest with the clarity it warrants, but I can appreciate the echoing expression and exceptionally grafted narrative of disheartening passion. Savour it, this is a keeper.

    It’s perhaps the crashing drums, almost the Burundi style slued upon eighties post punk pop by Malcolm McLaren, through Bow Wow Wow and Adam & The Ants, added with Fuzzbox frenzy, which gives it this welcoming retrospective tangent, or the mainstay All About Eve feel of the aforementioned sublime vocals, like Kate Bush at her darkest moment.

    Yes, Beast is all these things, yet a contemporary, calculated record of primal power and animalistic instinct, carnal; hence its name, I guess!

    Expressing her joy at finally setting her first collection of songs free, Freya Beer said, “it feels really exciting that I’ve released my debut album. I would never have been able to achieve the album without the incredibly talented people I met and worked with along the way. At my upcoming live shows, you can expect everything you hear on the album because my band is bigger now.”

    Recorded between studios in Manchester and London, ‘Beast’ features longstanding drummer Owain Hanford on percussion, Arnoldas Daunys on bass, and lead guitars from Peter Hobbs (The Boy Least Likely To), who also produced the album. Additional contributions come from Dave Fidler and Andy Hargreaves. The album artwork was photographed by Paul Johnson (Say Goodnight Films), accompanied by Jupiter – the Sphinx cat.

    Swiftly following the album’s release, Freya will be embarking on a major UK tour throughout November and December 2021. Full dates and details on the website. Closest to us is The Lanes, Bristol on Wednesday 10th November, or on Sunday 5th December at The 1865 in Southampton.

    It conjures visually like Hieronymus Bosch, literate, a tangle of Edgar Allan Poe, but through sensual masochism, felinely elegant but eerie, all unpromising, like goblins will materialise out of inimical misty woods to corrupt your most emotive moment, or, something like that!

    Website: http://www.freyabeer.com

    Facebook: @freyabeerofficial

    Twitter: @freyabeer

    Instagram: @freya_beer


  • And the Winner of our Gary Delaney Competition is….

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

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

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

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

    My mate had a penis extension…

    Now his house looks really stupid

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

  • CSF Professional Wrestling celebrate 23 years of live events as the Corn Exchange

    23 years of wrestling, is a lot of wrestling, I’ve got to wonder if I’d manage 23 seconds in the ring. Because if you know me, you’ll know dangerous sports just isn’t my bag. If I went on the school skiing holiday, I’d be the one, because there’s always one, who comes home with their leg in a cast.

    I mean, words like high flying, body slamming and bone crunching simply don’t compute, if they threw the chair at me, like they do though, don’t they though, I’d probably take it with me and go find a nice quiet place in the corner with a good book, if there is such a thing as a quiet corner of a wrestling event. And if there was, you’d probably want your money back.

    No, think I’d just spectate, if it’s all the same with you; you’d want more than your money back if you saw me attired in a leopard-skin leotard anyway, you’d need compensation.

    Because it’s a loud and proud show, isn’t it, and like Marmite, men tousling in a leotard is something you even love or hate. Yet for Devizes Corn Exchange to host CSF Professional Wrestling for 23 years is something of a great achievement, ergo I have to tip my hat at the organisers for bringing something different to town and helping create the diverse program of events we have for a town our size.

    So, help to celebrate 23 years of CSF Professional Wrestling live events as the Corn Exchange in Devizes, at their ‘Saturday Night Slam!’ on October 23rd!

    Twelve top wrestling stars will do battle in five professional bouts of high flying, body slamming, bone crunching, action packed family entertainment. International star, multiple time Heavyweight and TNA / IWGP World Tag team Champion Doug Williams will be live and in action, as will All Nations Champion: ‘English Lion’ Eddie Ryan, JD Knight, Lance Cole, White Tiger, Karl Atlas, Big Country, Kian Enderby, ‘Professor’ Gilligan Gordon, Bane ‘n’ Bronson and Dan Splash.

    Tickets are limited, available directly from http://www.csfwrestling.co.uk. Devizes Books (Devizes Town Centre) also have tickets to purchase in person.

    For full event line up and information, please visit www.csfwrestling.co.uk or www.facebook.com/csfprofessionalwrestling

    Tickets are priced at £12 each – General Admission. Other options available by visiting http://www.csfwrestling.co.uk

    Doors 6pm / Showtime 6:30pm / Finish 9pm. All ages welcome.


  • George Floyd Statue, Defaced, Because, of Course, That’s the First Time Anyone Made a Statue of Someone Who Committed a Crime…..?!

    The media reports the bust statue of George Floyd in New York has been vandalised for a second time since its erection, and eager after a day of downtime, keyboard warriors take to Facebook careful not to expose their hypocrisy and racism, with comments along the lines of “they build statues of criminals now, whatever next?!” Because, of course, that’s the first time anyone made a statue of someone who committed a crime. Really? Wind your neck in.

    True George Floyd had some petty convictions, but I wonder if he was involved with the Royal African Company, and transported over 84,000 Africans to the Americas, of whom 19,000 died on the journey, and in turn, if they said the same when Edward Colston’s statue was torn down in Bristol.

    One man’s martyr can be another’s terrorist, one man’s revolutionary is another’s extremist, consequently thousands of statues are controversially questionable, and historically suffered damaging attacks against them. Though President Trump lapped up his brutal methods of dealing with terrorists, we all recall Firdos Square’s Saddam Hussain’s statue coming down, and no one in the western world battered an eyelid, because he was the baddie of the moment, weapons of mass destruction, or not, or whatever, America, fuck yeah! In fact, just like Lenin’s statutes being brought down across Ukraine in 2014, conservative thinkers saw it as symbolic, and celebrated. Yet when the emphasis is on statues of Confederates and slaveholders, the tables were turned and knickers get in a twist. Stone Mountain depicts leaders of the Confederacy, how far should we take this?

    I’ve always loved Westminster Bridge’s Boudiccan Rebellion statue, and I’d probably been rooting for her revolt against Roman rule, but if I were a Roman, I’d probably be slightly narked by it, being her army showed no mercy when brutally razing London, Colchester and St Albans, slaying 70,000 Romans. Similarly, if I was Fatty Fudge, (which isn’t so far from the truth as it may sound) I’d be offended by Minnie Minx’s statue in Dundee.

    Despite his passive hippy perception, it’s reported John Lennon was violent, he kicked a fan in the face when he tried to jump the stage. It’s common knowledge he almost beat Bob Wooler the deejay at the Cavern Club to death at Paul McCartney’s 21st birthday party; imagine, still, they made a statue of him.

    Mount Rushmore was built on seized land, and designed by a sculptor who allegedly had ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Statues are never impartial, they commemorate a person trapped in time, but our response to them isn’t, it moves with current popular opinion and attitudes. Our feelings towards a statute depends on who they were, what they did, who erected them, and in turn, who pulls them down.

    Tokyo’s Yakusuni Shrine was established to “commemorate and honour the achievement of those who dedicated their precious lives for their country.” Included among the names inscribed inside the shrine there’s reported at least fourteen known criminals. The architects of Japan’s alliance with Germany and Italy during World War II are on there, there’s a general directly responsible for the attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour, and another who ordered a battle that resulted in a massacre that killed 200,000 civilians in 1937.

    “Anti-doggers” had a whole different meaning in 1906 London, they were hordes of rioting medical students, condoners of vivisection who police held back from destroying Battersea’s Brown Dog statue, erected to memorialize the infamous brown dog and the many other sacrificed animals. In the end the protests were too much and Battersea Council removed it under cover of darkness.

    In reverse to the vandalism of the George Floyd statue, the Haymarket statues commemorating of the “robust policeman, in his countenance frank, kind, and resolute,” who were bombed by a raging mob in Illinois in 1886 was frequently damaged and marred by both bombs and even a streetcar rammed it. The reason? The bomb was thrown in retaliation to a previous protest in Chicago where, feeling threatened by the crowd, the policemen in question fired into it, killing six people.

    And there’s my point, through the acquirement of all the facts over time, judgements will change, and justifications for tearing down a statue, or not, differ. For the people of Bristol of largely of Afro-Caribbean origin to have to walk past a statue of someone who factually oppressed, flogged and murdered their forefathers, overlooking them as a constant reminder of the horrors of our colonial past, every day, is prejudicial, and their peaceful campaign to have it removed was ignored for decades.

    Boris Johnson said tearing down statues amounts to “lying about our history” and that it is “absurd and shameful.” Yet the Colston statue is a lie, a monumental historic fib, symbolic of the cover-up and deception of an unashamed industry, and to want to keep it absurd and shameful. But this all-seeing eye, a permanent fixture of an ancient bastard staring down at them from its plinth is a testament to racism, and that is a whole different ballpark from a simple bust of victim of police brutality over in the USA, which is vandalised while his body is still warm, while the movement is still in swing and youth of the era are still inspired by the occurrence.

    If in a hundred- and twenty-seven-years attitudes have changed, or further facts about Floyd have been uncovered, and it seems justified to tear it down, so be it, but at least wait for time to heal the wounds of those effected by the movement.

Blank Pages of an Atari Pilot

This extensive belter of eighties-fashioned high-fidelity pop waits for no man, a sonic blast opens it, and the riff wouldn’t sound alien appearing in a John Hughes coming-of-age eighties movie. Visualise Jud, Molly, Emilio et all, dancing around a school library to this latest track from Swindon’s Atari Pilot.

After our glorious appraisal of their previous single Right Crew, Wrong Captain in July, they reckon I’m going to be fair on them again, but really, there’s nothing to dislike about Blank Pages. A review in which they quoted me suggesting, “this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie.” Here though, save the strong bassline, the space-rock element is lessened and retrospective synth-pop chimes in a racing beat, twisting this into a real grower on the ears.

Press release aptly cites “everything from Springsteen to Daft punk, Kathleen Edwards to Love,” as influences. As if Daft Punk would work with Springsteen, but if they did, I’d imagine something rather like this. And that alone, makes for an interesting sound, again akin to what Talk in Code are putting out locally, perhaps more so for this single. While we could hinge on an inglorious comeback from an eighties pop star and be thoroughly disappointed by their timeworn platitude and fame induced narcissistic attitude, nostalgia has never been so energetic and fresh when it’s channelled as an influence rather than comeback or tacky tribute act.

There’s a backstory about Atari Pilot, I may have mentioned before but worth reminding. After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle for Onze. But getting a second chance at life gave him the inspiration to get back to writing, and Atari Pilot reformed in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. Reforming the band was actually planned from his hospital bed.

With this in mind, Onze describes the thinking behind this great song, “Blank Pages, like the other songs for the struggle, were inspired by being diagnosed with and recovering from cancer. The songs reflect the highs and lows of life and the struggles we are faced with and have to overcome to reach where we want to be.”

There’s a heartening theme of struggle in the face of change, “it’s also about trying to recognise that we can’t escape ourselves, and asks whether we can use our history and baggage to fire a brighter future,” Onze explains.

It’s a DIY production, recorded and mixed in Onze’s home studio by using Logic Pro X, but sounds stunningly professional. Atari Pilot are Onze (vox,) Paj (bass,) Frosty (guitar) and drummer Andy, and we look forward to hearing more from them. I even managed to review this one without mentioning retro-gaming:


Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

Only gamers of a certain age will know of The Attic Bug. Hedonistic socialiser, Miner Willy had a party in his manor and wanted to retire for the evening. Just how a miner in the eighties could’ve afforded a manor remains a mystery; but that erroneous flaw was the tip of the iceberg. In this ground-breaking ZX Spectrum platform game, the Ribena Kid’s mum appeared to guard Willy’s bedroom, tapping her foot impatiently. Touch this mean rotund mama and she’d kill you, unless you’d tided every bit of leftovers from the bash. Turned out, months after the game’s release, one piece, in the Attic, was impossible to collect. Until this glitch became public knowledge, players were fuming as an intolerable bleeping version of “If I was a Rich Man,” perpetually looped them to insanity.

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I swear, if I hear that tune, even some forty years on I cringe; the haunting memory of my perseverance with the impossible Jetset Willy. Music in videogames has come a long way, thank your chosen deity. Yet in this trend of retrospection I terror at musical artists influenced by these cringeworthy clunky, bleeping melodies of early Mario, or Sonic soundtracks; like techno never happened, what are they thinking of? It was with caution, then, when I pressed play on the new single from Swindon band “Atari Pilot.” I had heard of them, but not heard them. I was pleasantly surprised.

For starters, this is rock, rather than, taken from the band’s name, my preconceived suspicion I would be subject to a lo-fi electronica computer geek’s wet dream. While there is something undeniably retrospective gamer about the sonic synth blasts in Right Crew, Wrong Captain, it is done well, with taste and this track drives on a slight, space-rock tip. Though comparisons are tricky, Atari Pilot has a unique pop sound. No stranger to retrospection, with echoey vocals and a cover akin to an illustration from Captain Pugwash, still this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie. Oh, and it’s certainly loud and proud.

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A grower, takes a few listens and I’m hooked. Their Facebook blurb claims to “change the rules of the game, take the face from the name, trade the soul for the fame…I’m an Atari Pilot.” After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle. But Atari Pilot returned in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. The full band gathered once again the following year with live shows and a new set of “Songs for the Struggle.” This will be the title of their forthcoming follow-up album, “When we were Children” being the first single from it, and now this one, “Right Crew, Wrong Captain,” is available from the end of July.

Its theme is of isolation, “and defiance, after the ship has gone down,” frontman Onze informs me. There’s a haunting metaphor within the intelligent lyrics, “you nail yourself to the mast and you pray that everything lasts, you just want to know hope floats, when the water rises, coz it’s gonna rise, take a deep breath and count to ten, sink to the bottom and start again.”

There’s a bracing movement which dispels predefined ideas of indie and progresses towards something encompassing a general pop feel, of bands I’ve highlighted previously, Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways, Atari Pilot would not look out of place billed in a festival line-up with these acts, and would add that clever cross between space-rock with shards of the videogames of yore, yet, not enough to warrant my aforementioned fears of cringeworthy bleeps. Here’s hoping it’s “game over” for that genre. That said, thinking back, when you bought your Atari 2600, if you recall, oldie, you got the entire package of two joysticks and those circler controllers too, as standard; could you imagine that much hardware included with a modern console? Na, mate, one controller, you’ve got to buy others separately.

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So, if decades to come we have a band called X-Box or PlayStation Pilot, I’d be dubious, but Atari gave us quality, a complete package; likewise, with Atari Pilot!


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“Static” Shuffle; Swindon Shuffle Live Streams This Saturday

If you rarely venture into Swindon, July is the month in which to make the journey. Swindon Shuffle celebrates and backs local music, since 2007 hosting a weeklong town music festival at its hottest venues; namely The Victoria, The Beehive, The Hop, The Tuppenny and Baila Coffee & Vinyl. In association with Swindon Link and the West Berkshire Brewery, last year they presented forty-four bands over the weekend, all free, and supported mental health charity MIND.

I was forgiven in thinking this year would be virtual, saving some petrol money at least, but the organisers inform me this weekend’s Virtual Shuffle is only to breeze over this gloomy, Groundhog Day isolation period, and they cross their fingers for the real thing on the 16th-19th July; crossing my toes too!

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So, yeah, but yeah, whoop-whoop, Swindon Shuffle will indeed fill this gap with plentiful live streams this Saturday 11th April, kicking off at 3:15pm. Streamed direct from their Facebook page, expect to catch all local acts; Jim Blair of Hip Route, the bearer of Devizine’s heart Miss Tamsin Quin, Mr Love & Justice himself, Steve Cox, jazz pianist, singer-songwriter Will Lawton, Harry Leigh, frontman of indie-pop outfit Stay Lunar, experimental Karda Estra project runner Richard Wileman, Onze from Atari Pilot, Joe Rose and Nash.

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Mr Love & Justice, Steve Cox

Our favourite Swindonian music journalist, the one and only Dave Franklin, if there’s another he’s a phoney, is all over helping organise this sofa bash. He states “obviously there’s more important things going on in the world right now than worrying about a local music festival, but it is also at times like these that music, art, creativity in general, helps get us through or at least offers an oasis of calm where we can retreat to and forget the day-to-day worries for a bit.”

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Karda Estra

For me personally, I’m continuing to toil with the worth of the live stream against a real gig, ponder it’s currently all we have, worry either punter or musician are forced onto the ropes when it comes to how they should be arranged and financed and have even encountered and engaged in heated debates as we scramble in the dark trying to make this work best for everyone. This said, if anyone can I’m reckoning the Shuffle team will make an amazing job of it. If there is an upside to it, it is that one can check these artists out for when the gig scene does take off, and boy, I’m predicting it’ll go off like an atomic blast, and it will encourage many to take the journey to festivals such as Swindon Shuffle, in this example.

Will Lawton

In the meantime, enjoy the streams and not let it miff us too much at missing the real thing. I tell myself the scene is dormant; it will erupt again. It should go without saying, but I’m going to spell it out; B, for BUY, U for Yourself (sort of,) Y for some local music, (okay, that didn’t work) Look, just support the artists and buy their music from their websites and Bandcamp sites!