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.


  • September Munchies: Return of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival

    A festival of gluttonous magnitude descends on Devizes, as the market town welcomes the return of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival. As per-usual, with the exception of the write-off year last, no corner has been left unturned in order to burst the box office when tickets go live on in fortnight, Monday 16th August.

    Running later this year, Saturday 25th September to Sunday 3rd October, The Devizes Food & Drink Festival has a full schedule and a variety of interesting food and drink related events, of which I will attempt to sum up here, without getting the munchies and having to nip off for a fish finger sandwich… what? Nothing wrong with a fish finger sandwich, staple diet, mate!

    The celebrated Street Food & Artisan Market kicks the show off, its’ free, it’s my favourite in years gone by, primarily because of the free F’s; Food, Festival and Free! From 10am to 4pm, on Saturday 25th September, Devizes Market Place will be “cheese toastie oozing deliciously,” with a generous selection of stalls, sampling wonderful dishes and take-home buys from local producers and traders, not forgetting the Wadworth Bar and live music.

    Soul food, also on that day, as author of two successful cookery books and currently cooking up a storm on Weekend Best, ITV Saturday mornings with Martin and Roman Kemp, Shivi Ramoutar will be demonstrating pulled pork shoulder tacos with a pineapple salsa and jerk mayo, 10.30 at the Corn Exchange for £3.

    Food writer and columnist for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Great Taste Award judge and author of several cookery books, Xanthe Clay will help save on the washing up with a demonstration of delicious one-pan dishes at midday, for another £3.

    Kitty Tait, the teenager from Oxfordshire who’s setting the baking world alight at The Orange Bakery in Watlington, Oxfordshire, is on from 2pm at Corn Exchange.

    And the evening can be spent at Belle Bathrooms on Sidmouth Street where you can dine somewhere different.

    On Sunday, forget the Wurzels, you can get some scrumpy ‘round ‘ere; it’s all down to Bromham’s Cider Shed at 11.45, where craft cider maker, Roger Blake conducts you through the cider-making journey from apple blossom to bottle, seeing orchard, press and end product.

    Later, for the younger, Hillworth park has a teddy bear’s picnic, for just £2.50, for storytelling, games, and a healthy picnic. There will be a special guest, possibly the largest teddy in all Devizes – the Julia’s House Bear.

    Salem Chapel, on New Park Street is where to dine somewhere different on Monday 27th September, lunchtime Loaves & Fishes, and Eve’s Pudding and enjoy a glimpse of days gone by in Devizes courtesy of local historian Dave Buxton.  

    Peter Vaughan shows you how to prepare some deliciously fragrant dishes from Goa, at his Cookery School, on Hopton. The cuisine is a unique mix of Mediterranean with a tropical Indian blend.

    And Monday evening could be spent at The Literary & Scientific Institute for the Great Foodie Quiz, or stargazing in a pod at Erlestoke for an out-of-this-world five course meal.

    Zooming back to earth Tuesday, to have lunch among the flowers of Superior Plants in Market Lavington, and an evening meal at the Bear Hotel. The five-course menu will be created by Wadworth’s Executive Development Chef, Andrew Scott, who has worked in several Michelin starred restaurants as well as appearing on BBC2’s Great British Menu, and the meal will be paired with wines chosen and described by experts from Wadworth’s wine supplier Bibendum.

    Gin masterclass, is a wise way to end Wednesday 29th September, at the The Vaults on St John’s Street. Local distillery Scout & Sage invite you to learn all about gin, or Devizes Books presents readings from Kipling, Tagore, a Plain Tale from the Raj and some Spike Milligan, with three courses of the delicious cuisine of the sub-continent, at St John’s Parish Rooms.

    Cheese Hall, at Devizes Town Hall has foodie written all over it. An illustrated talk by art historian Clare Ford-Wille on Food in Art from the Romans to Cezanne on Thursday 30th September. Or perhaps a murder mystery dinner might be your thing? Also at Devizes Town Hall, with The All Cannings Players, bringing you a murder story, Rough Justice, involving an amateur dramatics group, and, naturally, a three-course dinner.

    Friday 1st October, is foraging day, meeting points will be supplied with tickets, as small group walks search for edible and usable plants within the boundaries of Devizes. Lunch at the studio of Devizes contemporary artist, Bee Thomas, or take an expert tutorial at Wadworth’s Brewery in signwriting with Wadworth’s sign painter, Wayne Ritchings.

    Then the firm fixture on the festival calendar, Friday, the Come Dine With Us experience without the cameras and annoying narration!

    A new weekend upon them, there’s an invitation to Horton House Farm on Saturday 2nd October, and the grounds of Parkdale House has a steam engine, on the old Devizes Branch Line; you could be dining underneath the arches, barbecue style.

    But thus, this sees the end of The Devizes Food & Drink Festival, with one of the most ingenious events the festival has launched. The World Food event, free at the Corn Exchange Sunday 3rd October from 12.30. Explore the globe on a plate. An event for all the family, where local residents with far flung roots invite you to sample a family favourite from their homeland. Basically, you get little taster portions for 50p a pop. Such a novel idea, and wonderful way to end the festival

     I’m hungry mentioning all this, anyone got a biscuit? No, not a garibaldi, I want nothing less than custard cream, thank you! More info, and to book tickets, click here.


  • Gamer Heaven in Bristol: History of Video Games Show

    What would get your gamer relation, (because every family has one!) leaping out of their game chair, putting their controller on charge and aching to get out into the real world?!

    Yeah, I know, right, not much, other than perhaps their favourite savoury snack, and then they’ll drift back towards the console, proclaiming there’s a new level needs completing or something about NPCs trying to eat them. How about a trek to Bristol? Tricky, but maybe if you told them The History of Video Games has every console at hand, a truckload of vintage arcade games and an exhibition they’d pass off a snog with Lara Croft for.

    Running now and through the summer holidays until 12th September, on the ground floor of The Galleries shopping in Broadmead, a £12 ticket will gain you access to the video game heaven that’ll make your gamer explode into golden rings upon witnessing. And, I stress, gamers of ALL ages. One Facebook user asked if they had the Star Wars game, presumably they meant the 1983 Atari arcade first-person rail shooter. The answer a definite yes, but it was currently being fixed. Another asked what consoles they have, that answer was simply, “them all.”

    They’ve got everything from the Konami Dance Revolution to the Original Sega Rally, the like I could imagine Dads dragging kids kicking and screaming away from their Minecraft servers and forcing them to play Asteroids or Pac-Man.

    Divided into three sections, History of Video Games, Replay Board Game Cafe and the Generation Games Exhibition, organisers advise to plan ahead, tickets sell out fast; they’re like the easter egg in Adventure. The days are spread over three sessions with only a capacity of 65; you could be like Jet Set Willy trying to get out of the Attic, if you don’t buy in advance, or am I showing my age now?!


  • Song of the Day 41: Captain Accident & Disasters

    Meaning to bring back this simple and quick feature for a while now, and what better opportunity than a new tune from Cardiff’s reggae virtuosoes Captain Accident and the Disasters?

    Nice mellow rock steady number this one, with a sombre theme and contrasting clown in the video. Bring on those happy, happy clowns, for a band who supported Toots and the Maytals on their 2016 UK tour, who Toots Hibbert liked so much to invite them back to do the same for the follow two tours, it could only be more talent than “accident.”

    https://youtu.be/qeo4rxQ9200

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


  • T F I Thaiday Friday

    Checking out the little Thai cuisine delivery service in Devizes, Thaiday Friday; why am I the last to know about these things?!

    I’ve no gripe with Andy, I couldn’t have, he’s standing at my door clutching some takeaway Thai curry. And my grumble certainly isn’t with his partner, Som, who’s lovingly cooked it. It’s with some of you, you know who you are! I do have bad moods, and they can be known to last for anything up to thirty seconds. The Thaiday Friday Facebook page has received over 400 likes, and not one of you thought to tell me about it. Well, your dirty little secret is out!

    Thaiday Friday is the “lockdown project” of Andy and Som of Devizes, each Friday they deliver a different homecooked Thai dish to your door. While we have some great established takeaways in town, variety lacks, Thai cuisine one of them, and you know what they say about variety; aptly, it’s something about spices.

    If they’ve found a gap in the market, and set up as a registered business, Andy seemed ambiguous with the prospect of expanding the project. He’s worked as a DJ for over 35 years, and Som is the breakfast chef at The Bear Hotel, so they’ve their hands full already. Besides, overthinking something can be its downfall, the beauty of this idea is its simplicity.

    “We sell out most weeks,” Andy told me, making me wonder why we need review it at all. But I’m not about to argue, as I said, he’s standing at my door clutching some takeaway Thai curry! After hoofing it down, and cleaning my plate dry, (which I may/may not have licked,) I see why it needs a mention, deffo. Though I’ve not a great deal of experience with Thai cuisine, ergo nothing to evenly compare it with, I knows what I likes, and this was simply delicious.

    Those few times I have had Thai curry, it’s always been green, like it’s an English set standard. This Friday though, it’s a welcoming, warm orange tint; chicken Massaman curry, apparently, with chickpeas, sweet potato and cashew nuts, accompanied with soft Thai Jasmin rice. “We rotate five dishes on weekly basis,” Andy explained, “Massaman, yellow curry, Panang curry, red curry and green curry, all with Thai Jasmin rice.”

    Choice maybe limited, no restaurant menu here, rather a quaint homecooked operation of which you can check to see what’s cooking and order via their Facebook page. If you have to hold your hands up and praise the ingenuity here, the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. You can choose if you want it hot or just lightly spiced, of which we opted for the latter.

    Like Marilyn Monroe, without the legs for it, I do like it hot, but lesser so, I considered, you can really taste the quality. And it is quality, restaurant-standard. The chicken fresh and succulent, the sweet potato smooth and the whole combination of cashews, chickpeas and the incomparable sauce were to die for.

    Massaman is a rich, relatively mild fusion dish, not over-sweet, savoury, and just, velvety. Is this the cinnamon at work, the palm sugar or cardamom? Do I look like Jay Rayner to you? That was rhetorical, you don’t have to answer it. To compare to Indian curry though, this was far more delicately composed and lighter; it was sweet, to a degree, savoury to another and creamy, just a bit. With Indian curry I find it’s either one end or the other, here curry is balanced to perfection, from someone proficient and obviously passionate about bringing you a taste of her home; that’s my amateurish opinion!

    Thanks Som and Andy, but I couldn’t finish it all!

    Portions were plentiful, but size is unimportant compared to the notion; here’s something unique to our little market town, and for which Thaiday Friday thoroughly deserves top marks, and a little more. This is undoubtedly the completion to a perfect Friday night in.


  • Hotting up for August 2021: Things to Do Across Wiltshire and Beyond

    If July saw the gradual return to normality, and cautiously events crawled back with a welcomed but awkward feeling, while it may be hugely debatable if we’re doing the right thing, or not, August is warming up to be stonker. Events of all types are flung up each day, it’s hard to keep track and up-to-date, nevertheless I try.

    Fingers crossed it doesn’t go Pete Tong. Such a divided issue with good arguments on each side, I’m not about to start ranting for either, but I salute everyone organising events, at great risk to themselves financially. All I will say is, it is vital for the success of any event and the continuation of them in general, that we still apply certain rules, restrictions set by the organisers, and adopt the necessary etiquette when attending them. We know what the precautions are, they’re second nature now. The government passed the buck, it is up to us, each and everyone of us to think for ourselves, respect other’s decisions on how to act, but I appeal, act responsibly and long may this continue.

    Without further-a-do then, here’s what we’ve found on Devizine for August. It’s far easier to knock this article up with providing too many links, they can be found at the event calendar, and for family events throughout the school holidays, check here; but please do check for updates, it’s never an exhaustive thing, new events are being added. Said that bit before, but it is even more vital to check ahead, to ensure events are going ahead as planned, and what restrictions might be in place at them individually. Have a great August, stay safe.

    Week 1:

    Kicking off on Monday August 2nd with the +5 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School. Tuesday 3rd and running until Thursday 5th August, RW Football School Summer Football Camp are at Green Lane, Devizes, ages 6-11.

    Wednesday August 4th, then. Chippenham Museum host a Children’s Art Walk. Take a walk, through Monkton Park for this fun arty session. You will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park. There’s also the +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School.

    Wednesday also sees the first Junior Actors with Lucia, for school years 6-9, for the Youth Theatre Summer Workshop at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes.

    Thursday 5th and the Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore starts on Bowden Hill, Lacock. Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm, run every Thursday and Friday through August.

    Our first August festival starts Thursday, Wickham Festival in Hampshire, where Van the Man headlines, and the Love Summer Festival at Plympton, Devon starts Friday.

    There’s an interesting-sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman staged at Bath’s Forum on Friday 6th -Saturday 7th Miss Red. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old, Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.

    Friday 6th also sees the Salisbury Comedy Festival start, Black Sabbath tribute, Supernaut play the Vic in Swindon, and HoneyStreet’s Barge will be kicking as the Mid Life Krisis Collective head down there.

    On Saturday 7th time for Sheer Music to put aside their lockdown TV presenting skills and get on with what they do best, hosting gigs. And what a way to start, it’s Frank Turner at the Cheese & Grain. Also, catch the amazing Kevin Brown the Southgate, Devizes, and those mods, The Roughcut Rebels play the Greyhound in Trowbridge.

    The wonderful Strange Folk are at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon. Concord Drive, Transfer Window and Man in Vest play Swindon’s Vic, Jive Talkin’ perform the Bee Gees at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall and it’s The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, where McFly headline.

    For Sunday chilling, on the 8th, get down to the Queens Head in Box where Schtumm presents The Lost Trades with support from Lee Broderick, alternatively the Neeld play The Rod Stewart Songbook.

    Week 2:

    Monday 9th August there’s a +8 Holiday Club, The Farm Cookery School and +11 on Tuesday.

    Wednesday sees another Youth Theatre Summer Workshop, at Devizes, the Wharf Theatre, check their website for details. Chippenham Museum also hosts a Writing & Performance Workshop with performer Ruth Hill, for ages 8 and above. More Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore on Thursday and Friday, and The Cake Lady takes The Farm Cookery School’s +8 Holiday Club.

    Friday night, I’ve got Stop Stop playing Swindon’s Vic, and that’s it so far.

    Saturday 14th, Cobbs at Hungerford have a charity Emergency Service Day, should be fun for the little ones. For the grownups, cider fest at the Civic in Trowbridge with the Mangled Wurzels.

    Lewis Clark is at The Southgate, Devizes, Shepard’s Pie at Wanborough’s The Harrow, and Webb, formally known as Ryan Webb has this EP launch party at Swindon’s Vic, with Broken Empire and Land Captains in support. Hope to get a copy of this for reviewing, some clog in the pipeline at the moment. But hey, it’s also Buckfest at Marlborough The Roebuck where the loud and proud Humdigger headline.

    Bedpost, Transfer Window and Pool play the Vic in Swindon on Sunday.

    Week 3:

    +11 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School on Monday 16th, and the RW Football School are in Melksham. Suitable for ages 6+, Pound Arts welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous show to Corsham Almshouses, for an outdoor performance of The Grimm Sisters.

    A welcomed return of events at Melksham Assembly Hall on Thursday 19th, with Neil Sands Bringing Back the Good Times; ol’ time favourite show tunes from the 40s, 50s & 60s and a heart-warming tribute to Dame Vera Lynn.

    Friday 20th and Jack Dee’s new show, Warm Up is at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall. I’ve nothing else for Friday night yet, but Saturday21st, woah, festival time!

    First up, is where I plan to be, Mantonfest, near Marlborough, with Blondie tribute Dirty Harry, Dr Feelgood, Barrelhouse, Richard Davies & The Dissidents and many more. Over the downs, OakStock at Pewsey’s Royal Oak is another safe bet; Amy Winehouse, Rag n Bone Man tributes, alongside the brilliant Illingsworth.

    Meanwhile the rescheduled Bath Reggae Festival takes place, with Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Hollie Cook and more. Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headline Live at Lydiard 2021.

    Howlin’ Mat plays The Southgate, Devizes, while Sex Pistol’s tribute Pretty Vacant are at Swindon’s Vic, with support by The Half Wits and Subject Ex.

    Week 4:

    Monday 23rd August is +8 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School, and Tuesday is11+.From Tuesday until Thursday, The RW Football School Summer Football Camp returns to Green Lane, Devizes, for ages 6-11.

    Chippenham Museum has a one-hour workshop to create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by their latest exhibition on Wednesday, for ages 6+.

    Thursday and Friday it’s Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore. And Thursday 26th August sees an Olympic Gold Medallist, Alex Danson running a Hockey Masterclass at Devizes Hockey Club. Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.

    All weekender at The Barge on Honeystreet, when Honey Fest kicks off Thursday, with a grand local line-up, including The Lost Trades, The Blunders, and Chicken Shed Zeppelin, to name but a few.

    The Southgate is the place to head towards on Friday in Devizes, where my personal indie-pop favourites, (not that I should have favourites) Daydream Runaways are booked in. Also, the highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green, all weekend, with the Full Tone Orchestra and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats appearing Sunday.

    A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows on Saturday 28th August at Corsham’s Pound Arts. And Sunday, a Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars, Pop Princesses comes to Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

    Meanwhile, it’s the welcomed Triple JD Band at The Southgate, Devizes and HarrowFest at Wanborough’s The Harrow, featuring Jamie R Hawkins, The Blind Lemon Experience and more…


  • Stonehenge Saved!

    Whether, for you, it was a case of our maintaining our heritage for future generations, Pagan rights, as an economical attraction, saving the tax-payer a cool two-billion-plus, or the devastating environmental damage, no one can deny Stonehenge is our county’s world-renowned historic monument; we cherish it.

    Come on, admit it, even Clark Griswold had more idea than Transport Secretary Grant Shapps! Last week I was imagining this article to be rant, major bad news, as the tunnel project risked the future of site, the surroundings and its right to be a World Heritage Site, and for what? The legacy of Boris? To shave a few minutes off commuting times?

    But no, I will have to angle my antagonising elsewhere, because the High Court has today held that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acted unlawfully when granting permission for a dual carriageway and short tunnel through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site; at long last logic presides over power!

    The judge found that the Secretary of State unlawfully failed to consider less-damaging ways of relieving the existing A303. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, and others have repeatedly called for a longer tunnel so as to protect the whole of the WHS. Just days before the judgment UNESCO’s Committee warned that if the shorter tunnel goes ahead, then Stonehenge might be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger next year.

    As part of his judgement, Mr Justice Holgate noted the Transport Secretary’s acceptance that the road scheme would have caused permanent and irreversible harm to the WHS.

    The Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site is delighted, “we are enormously grateful to our legal team for their work on the case. We also acknowledge the brilliant work of the Stonehenge Alliance, and the hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide who have, over many years, passionately supported the campaign to protect our internationally famous WHS. We are especially indebted to over 3,000 individuals who have helped to fund the legal action to date.”

    John Adams, OBE, SSWHS Director and Acting Chairman of the Stonehenge Alliance, said, “we could not be more pleased about the outcome of the legal challenge. The Stonehenge Alliance has campaigned from the start for a longer tunnel if a tunnel should be considered necessary. Ideally, such a tunnel would begin and end outside the WHS. But now that we are facing a climate emergency, it is all the more important that this ruling should be a wake-up call for the Government. It should look again at its roads programme and take action to reduce road traffic and eliminate any need to build new and wider roads that threaten the environment as well as our cultural heritage.”

    But we’re not clear out of the water yet. SSWHS awaits the Secretary of State’s decision on whether he will appeal against the judgement. Should he do so, the legal battle will continue to save the Stonehenge landscape for future generations to marvel at and enjoy. Continue to support the campaign, more details here: https://stonehengealliance.org.uk/

    https://stonehengealliance.org.uk/our-campaign/petition/

    https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-stonehenge-world-heritage-site


  • Idiot Music, is the Monkey’s Bizzle

    This is isn’t the favoured way to start a review, but this is idiot music for stupid people, if you think this is stupid then you’re a fucking idiot, and that’s a quote, from the opening title tack, which ends on, “oh, there it is, up my bum; can I eat it now?”

    If Goldie Looking Chain is all too millennial, but hip hop, for you, should be served with massive chunks of deadpan sauce, west country tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and general silliness, Monkey Bizzle’s debut album, Idiot Music might just be the thing to pick off the menu.   

    Through the Pythonesque nature of Idiot Music though, wailing guitars, proficient drumming (from Cerys of the Boot Hill All Stars), and substantial dope beats means this is far from amateurish, and will rock the festival circuit. In fact, the Somerset five-piece sold out the album launch party at The Barge on Honeystreet a fortnight ago; I see why. This drips with Scrumpy & Western charm, like Gloucestershire’s Corky, Wurzels meets the Streets, the elements of “agricultural” hip hop make this apt for our local crusty scene. Yet with wider appeal, it is, simply, parental advisory fun.

    Primates tend to be a running theme, a particularly danceable funky signature tune named Monkey Funk, a King Kong themed rap, another including David Attenborough samples. There are also drug references aplenty, the reggae-inspired Heavy, or Doves (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) needs no explaining, but in it, it mocks the chav culture in such a way you may’ve thought only Goldie Looking Chain could. Something it’ll inevitably be compared to, but more so than the humour drafting this side of the Seven, what makes this so appealing is its nod of respect to hip hop rather than mocking it, is greater than that of Goldie Looking Chain, in a similar way there’s was with Beastie Boy satirists Morris Minor and the Majors, if you get as old skool as I!

    One thing’s for sure, Monkey Bizzle isn’t to be taken seriously, but for the most part it’s listenable to as a hip hop album rather than pure novelty too, unique rappers Skoob and James make this so, especially as the album trickles on, both CU Next Tuesday and Ha Ha Ha being particularly entertaining, Oi Mate ripples with The Streets’, Give Me My Lighter Back but under a ska riff.

    Nothing here is going to become next summer’s banging anthem on Radio One’s Big Weekender, an honour they’re clearly not bothered by or striding towards. To face facts, what you get is a full album of highly entertaining flip-flop and amusing lyrics of daring themes, wrapped by gifted musicians only playing the fools. And for which, Idiot Music has got my name all over it!


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Swindon Railway Band at the Town Gardens, Old Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Erin Bardwell

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

    Dave Young. Image: Graham Bradfield

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

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

    Tickets:

    Early Bird (18+) – £15

    Adult Ticket (18+) – £20

    Concession Ticket (10-17 years) – £12

    Child Ticket (Under 10 years old) – Free

    Family Ticket – two adults and two concessions – £50

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


  • Daisy’s Good Luck Songs

    If I learned to take heed of Sheer Music chief promoter Kieran J Moore, when he Facebook posts about a new local discovery on a previous occasion, when I had the unexpected realisation outstanding Americana artist, Joe Edwards was virtually a neighbour, it’s paid off again.

    The sounds of Daisy Chapman the subject this time, and it’s exquisite.

    “How have we only just discovered each other?” Daisy responded. She may reside in Trowbridge but rarely gigs locally, concentrating on touring the continent. I listened fondly to the song he prompted, time for me to cut in on this dance.

    Starter for ten, Daisy has an angelic voice of vast range. It could conjure enough emotion to make you tearful over a Chas n Dave cover, if she were to attempt it, which she probably wouldn’t, purely hypothetical!

    Orchestral, at times, but dark, folk in another, if unconventional, there’s a thin line between heavenly and infernal here, as a sense of generation X sneaks in too, through conceivably progressive writing. Coupled with poignant narrative in these nine original good luck songs, a waiver away from archetype instruments and riffs of country and folk, and bold genre experimentations and crossovers, makes her third studio album, 2020’s Good Luck Songs something of a masterpiece.

    It opens lone on piano, this divine voice, almost liturgical, but layers are building, a trusty cello will become a trademark throughout the album. The title track preps you for something unique, something obviously wonderful.

    Into the second tune, Home Fires, and the tender euphoria continues through piano and cello combination, whisking you on its journey, of nostalgic recollections annotating seasonal change, the wordplay is sublime. Neatly layered into the existing recipe, a gothic folk element slips neatly into play by the third tune. Daisy’s voice willingly commands you, captivating you, like a child mesmerised with a campfire fable.

    Then there’s Generation Next, a strictly country feel with a delicate fiddle, and brass, accompanying a tongue-in-cheek division, a tale which, despite the Americana sound, nods to gigging on a local circuit, from well-versed experts to the concept their advice is to be ignored by the younger upcoming performers. It is, quite simply, fascinatingly ingenious.

    I used to own an Empire is another compellingly written emotional piece; on bonding to face a greater cause, articulated by a crusader boldness against aggrandizement. Through historic references it compares devastating impacts of political cuts, The Beeching Report, Miner’s Strike and even Custer and the Gettysburg Address to the ignorance of Icarus, as the wax of his wings melted from flying too close to the sun. An archetypal subject of leftism maybe, but you’ve never heard such expressed with such academic prose and orientation.

    Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do! The subjects of Good Luck Songs are concentrated, factual and tangible, emotionally expressed and divinely produced to an exceptionally high standard. But diversity makes it tricky to pin down, there’s a moment, in the haunting ambient opening of The Decalogue, which sounds so soulful, held steady with military style drum riff, yet the following song There’s a Storm Coming has a drum loop and high-hat, akin to a contemporary RnB song, or the country-pop of Shania Twain. Feels like succumbing to commercialisation, but in this, there’s a point; Daisy’s voice is so lithe, it could flex into any given genre or style, and finish on top.

    Said versatility was first noticed by UK prog-rock band Crippled Black Phoenix, and since 2009, on and off Daisy has travelled as pianist/BV with the band on tours covering every corner of Europe as well as a short trip to China. Daisy was also chosen as vocalist on their cover of AC-DC’s “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” With a penchant for prog-rock, Daisy shares lead vocals with ex CBP singer, Daniel Anghede in the group Venus Principle.

    And anyway, Good Luck Songs finishes with a sublime cover of Tom Waits’ Tom Traubert’s Blues, to confirm Daisy’s dedication to acoustic rock, but as expectable, it strips out the croaking vocals of Waits and replaces it with the pure silk that is Daisy Chapman. Believe me, if you’re captivated by strong female vocals, the kind that could bring a church down, but want for intelligent lyrics, this album will hold you spellbound from start to finish.


  • Girls Go Ska; Frente al Mar!

    Rude girls grito! Far from home perhaps, but so, so worth mentioning for tropical vibes of rock steady and ska in a fashion proportionately you’ll find hard to come by around these parts, it’s my beloved all-girl-bar-one Mexican ska band, Girls Go Ska with a bran-new album Frente al Mar. Girls and ska, what’s not to like?!

    From the off, the title track simply melts, mellowly, and builds in tempo, but is never overdramatic; “cool” is the operative word; fresco! If I’ve put them on a pedestal before, they’ve now put another couple of pedestals atop it. Often steady paced for the genre, it proves ska, while upbeat doesn’t have to be full of macho-bravura skinheads, or a frenzied rancour attack against dogmatic tyranny it’s often misperceived here through the eighties’ second-generation Two-Tone scene, and within the dominate contemporary ska-punk internationally. I’ve made this point in the past when penning a more general piece about ska and reggae in South America, in which Girls Go Ska were featured.

    Girls go Ska

    Frente al Mar is breezy, bright and fun, light-hearted and beguiling. It roots the genre to its original Jamaican ethos, as a carefree dance music. Though, there’s a large chunk of assumption with those observations, as my Spanish isn’t up to scratch, so my presumption rests on the design, the album name, which translates to the seaside, basically, and mood of the vocals; if they’re singing about anything other than romantic themes and enjoying oneself dancing on a tropical beach, like making political statement, it certainly doesn’t sound that way! You just have to enjoy the professionality and untroubled vibe this album breezes in your direction, it’s gorgeous, and it absolutely skanks!

    Packaged femininely in loud pink and decorated with cute shōjo manga, rather than our typecast black and white chequered trade identity with Walt Jabsco splashed all over, Frente al Mar provides an alternative to norm, but is no way attributes the “fairer sex,” rather riot grrrl kick-ass in tenet, gender-neutral in sound. Not that punk comes into play; throughout it’s steadfast traditional ska sound, one should credit Studio One rather than Two-Tone, or even Reel Big Fish for, there’s also sprinklings of Latino sound traditional to Mexico, of ranchera, norteño and their contemporary offshoots, but are subtle and likely naturally occurring.

    Imagine, if your English mind will adapt, Gloria Estefan performing ska, and you’re nearer to the mark than The Specials. But no, eight sublimely flowing tunes is what you get, a sun-kissed blessing on the ear, in the style of brass-based rock steady and good ol’ ska. While pukka boys, Death of Guitar Pop are currently returning the welcomed Nutty-Boys-esque frivolous and fairground ska home for lads, further afield, here comes the girls.

    Meanwhile here in my hometown of Devizes, the newly opened rum bar, The Muck & Dundar has been a roaring success, proving a taste of the tropical is welcomed, ergo, taken out of its context and origins, Frente al Mar would make the perfect soundtrack to it. Me? I’m smitten, with a little crush!


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.

atari2

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.

atari3

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!

shufflepost

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.

mrlove
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.”

karda estra
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!