REVIEW – The Alex Voysey Trio & Hardwicke Circus @ LSBC, Con Club, Devizes – Saturday 19th November 2022

Double-header, Double the Fun!

by Andy Fawthrop

In yet another busy musical weekend for Devizes, it was hard to choose where to go, with gigs all over the place.  A nice problem to have I guess, but on Saturday night I threw my money into the Long Street Blues Club hat to see two bands that were completely new to me.

First up was the Alex Voysey Trio. Alex had previously played the club back in February as support to Mike Zito.  On that occasion he played a solo acoustic set and impressed enough to be invited back with his full trio.  Alex has worked as a session and support musician to many big names in the business, and in many musical genres.  He’s a passionate advocate for blues music, and used his trio to great effect here, covering both traditional numbers and to his own modern compositions.

With Paul Arthurs on drums and Ben Hands on bass, Alex hit the stage with a range of snappy and upbeat blues/ rock numbers.  He soon had the crowd on-side, and used the opportunity to mix it up a little with a couple of slower, more laid-back numbers.  His one-hour set was sound, competent and thoroughly professional, featuring some nice flourishes on lead guitar.

The second half featured the first D-town appearance for Carlisle-homed five-piece Hardwicke Circus who, quite rightly it seems to me, are being tipped for big things. They’ve already opened for mega stars such as Bob Dylan at Hyde Park and for Southside Johnny.  Paul McCartney allegedly persuaded Glastonbury festival to get them to play, which they duly did.   And it didn’t take long for everyone last night to see why they’re so well thought-of.

The band featured Jonny Foster (lead vocals and guitar), Tom Foster (drums and vocals), Joe Hurst (bass and vocals), Lewis Bewley-Taylor (keyboards), Jack Pearce (saxophones).  This combination provided a great solid and multi-dimensional sound.

They’re a hard-working, hard-gigging band and it showed.  They’re young, sparky, almost punky, occasionally poppy, accompanied by some healthy doses of attitude.  But they’re very good, and they know it.  Their sound is strong and fresh, and has brought comparisons to all sorts of bands.  For me that included Dexys, Wilko Johnson, Madness, Fratellis – a little bit of something for everyone.

Straight from the off we knew we were in for a great set.  Lots of heft and drive, fast numbers, no messing about.  Loads of healthy banter with the crowd, and some well-placed audience participation in some of the choruses (“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” springs to mind).  There were plenty of good tunes, catchy hooks.  No long intros, just plenty of songs packed into their 90-minute set.  The crowd absolutely loved it, and an encore was never going to be in doubt.  But what an encore!  The band were joined on stage by Texan Joe King Carrascoa, guitarist and vocalist, and proceeded to deliver a six-song masterclass in how to play a crowd.  In among there were a solid rendition of The Band’s “The Weight” and a stonking version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.

If the future of music is in the hands of bands like this, we really have nothing to worry about.  This was an old-fashioned rock band in very capable young hands.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You

Friday 13th January 2023                              Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 18th February 2023                       Eric Bell Band

Saturday 1st April 2023                                  Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames

Saturday 15th April 2023                               Billy Walton Band

Saturday 6th May 2023                                  Kyla Brox Band

Saturday 27th May 2023                               Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 24th June 2023                               Earl Slick Band

Saturday 28th October 2023                        Susan Santo


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Review: Is this the Blues? Beaux Gris Gris & the Apocalypse at the Corn Exchange

by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley

We cannot pretend we didn’t approach this gig with keen anticipation based on previous times this band has graced Devizes with a spot on their tour……

As ever they did not disappoint; line ups over the years have seen a few faces, but the core of the group, Robin and Greta, steers the band with a note-perfect delivery, showing their experience and musicianship. With a quality band, as always, backing them up, they launch into every song with a knowing smile, many assembled being familiars, the floor is filled with participation, dancing and joining in, especially with crowd pleaser ‘don’t let the bastards get you down’; rarely have we seen the roof raised in such style in Devizes.

Is this the Blues? Well yes, the contemplation of both the good, and bad in life in the well-crafted lyrics certainly say so. In its delivery, there’s showmanship, an ability to hold a crowd, to raise a roof, or usher in near silence at will. We would go with Blues-rock, if pressed for a genre, as it’s accessibility would please the ears of many who would not classify themselves as fans of traditional Blues.

What makes the tangible feeling of a real connection with the band? Perhaps this being Robin Davey’s hometown? Or his musical journey with game changing band, The Hoax, who formed in Devizes? Audiences are now treated to guest appearances on Beaux Gris Gris tours from the best musicians in the U.K. Blues scene from all the links and friendships that come with such a rich history as a professional musician.

For this gig Robin’s often-time stage mate Jon Amor was away with his band, and so we were treated to the incredible guitar playing of Scott McKeown. A new name to us, but more than impressive enough to warrant investigation in his own right.

This gig was a great example of the capacity of our town to draw top bookings. Perhaps we shall enjoy a return to form for our once popular venue in the Corn Exchange? Thank you to everyone who makes it happen and if you didn’t catch this one, check them out, you might just discover this is the Blues for you.


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Barrelhouse Rams The Gate!

When Barrelhouse visited the Southgate last easter, it was a great affair, though I was surprised to have been among a lesser crowd than a typical night down Devizes’ ever-dependable tavern. Given our blues obsession and this largely Marlborough based five-piece’s exceptional talent for providing exactly that, a clashing evening at Long Street Blues Club, if memory serves me well, is the only logical explanation. This time made up for it……

See, I’ve witnessed the crowd-pulling ability of this band on their home-turf, as residents of MantonFest, and was pleased to strut headlong into the rammed mosh pit, even if it meant accidently tripping over a dog, who got their own back with a nip of my badly executed apologetic hand! Rammed in there for birthday-boy landlord Dave, indeedy, but also, I confirm Devizes has awakened to how good these guys are. So rammed, even, I gave up trying to get a decent photo.

The dancefloor proved my point, Devizes has cottoned onto the Barrelhouse fanatical, and last night they took the packed boozer on their magical journey. Squeezed into our legendary alcove, it’s a good job they’re only barrel by name, otherwise it could’ve gone all Popup Pirate! I arrived fashionably late, plastered in badly grafted zombie makeup, but in time enough for the signature tune, and the one which attracted me to their most brilliant originals, Mainline Voodoo, a track they submitted to our first Julia’s House compilation. And being this was followed by their delta-version of Ace of Spades, I was happy to be there.

It’s when they slide in a cover of The Weight, you know you’re in good company, bassist Stuart jesting to me they only run it so Jim Morrison fashioned frontman, Martin Hands can sing the word “fanny.” And there it is, see, not a band with a standout character, but a real tight teamworking collective, they bind and entertain like clockwork, and the sound they produce is as it says on the tin, “vintage blues with a hard-edged groove.”

An encore was demanded, after Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, they only went and did Honkytonk Woman, and rinsed it with the skill they put into every one of their originals. Much so, you cannot see the seam, there is no wandering off to the bar when they call it, “here’s one of our originals;” no; crowd be like, okay, I’m happy with that. Especially at The Southgate; we like it like that.

It only leaves me to direct your eyes to the poster below, a kind of interim MantonFest, where alongside a Slade tribute, you’ll get the full impact of Barrelhouse on their home turf, and unless you hold out until they’re at the Gate again, you should make a beeline for this Christmassy offering.


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 26th Oct – 2nd Nov 2022

So, Rishi Sunak is prime minister, eh, how about that for diversity? Last time, a woman, of sorts, now an Asian chap. A tax-avoiding billionaire Asian chap with a name which sounds like a brand of orange fizzy-pop, but one nonetheless. You’ve got to wonder who it’ll be next week.

My money is on a Klingon, but I must commend the Tories, seems they’re not quite as prejudice as Nazis after all. It doesn’t matter, age, gender, race or religion; providing you’re working class they’ll shit on all of us from a-high, but with a degree of equality.

It would’ve been nice if Liz Truss could’ve stuck around for another week, if only for topical pumpkin carving purposes, because yes, it is the ancient American-over-commercialised Gaelic feast of Samhain, or Halloween to Christian cultural thieves.

After a family outing to pick our own pumpkins on a farm near Rowde in torrential rain last Saturday, confirming I married into a rural family, and kids who consider themselves too matured to trick or treat, I’d like to go out on creepy tiles (see editor’s pick of the week) but tickets are being grabbed fast, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel by the weekend after being brutally attacked last Saturday by a hanging basket.

Where were Wiltshire Police when the attack took place, you cry? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. Typical, and that hanging basket is still at large somewhere, be warned. Needless to say, I sustained a surprisingly substantial head injury, though not the reason I’m talking complete toilet; I’m always like this.

I did manage to see a doctor. After a reply I pre-empted to be a telephone appointment sometime in May 2023, going by social media rants, I was invited to Southbroom surgery faster than I could change out of my Paddington jimmy-jams, and within the hour I was let back on the street. Not forgoing I retain a sore head with bolts of pain shooting through it upon the slightest of movement, but I’m after no sympathy. It’s the worry of 50 coming like a rocket over the hill at me. Any previous age and I’d have been, like, ah, just a bump to the noggin, be right as reign come morning. But now, any slight aliment and I’m drafting my bucket list; though I’d suspect Kylie Minogue won’t respond favourably in any case.

Onwards with what’s happening this creepy weekend, before I dose myself in more paracetamol. As usual the only link you need for more info and tickets is our event calendar HERE. If there’s stuff going on I’ve not mentioned below, stay tuned to the guide as I might yet update it through the week, and if it’s your event I missed, that’s likely because you didn’t tell me about it.

Wednesday 26th, and it’s the White Horse Opera’s opening night of L’elisir d’amore at Lavington School, which runs until 29th. And the Rondo Theatre, Bath has Female Transport, also running the same dates.


On Thursday 27th Devizes Lgbtq+ hold their Drag Queen Bingo, Halloqueen Edition at The Exchange in Devizes, which was a sell-out last time, so get in quick.

Find reggae at Level III, Swindon with the Erin Bardwell Three, and Grim Slickers at The Vic.


Friday 28th, Halloween Family Disco at The Neeld, Chippenham. LGBTQ+ Halloween night at The Exchange, Devizes.

Violin, rapper and loop artist, Mike Dennis is at The Pump, Trowbridge.

Bit confused as I’ve a poster from the Specialised Project, advertising Monkey Ska at the Vic, Swindon, but listings show Getrz, Vicuals and I See Orange playing there too, so perhaps the first one has been cancelled, unsure. The Terraplanes Blues Band play the Rolleston Arms, though, that much I do know!

Also find Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, Muze at The Tree House, Frome, while The Freddie & Queen Experience are at the Cheese & Grain.


Saturday 29th, everything is awesome at Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club, 3-4pm every Saturday. It’s Autumn in the Park at Hillworth in Devizes, see poster, and St John’s Michaelmas Fayre too.

Getting very Halloween now, with Halloween Karaoke at The Pelican Inn, Devizes, Devizes Scooter Club’s Skalloween at the Cavalier, a Halloween party with DJ James Therelfall at the Muck & Dunder, Thriller Halloween party at the Exchange, and The Monster Ball at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Kind of optional creepy fancy dress at Editor’s Pick of The Week: The Female of the Species 7th Annual Fundraising Gig at Seend Community Hall.

Tickets are going like hot cakes for this annual extravaganza from our lovely all-female local supergroup, now packing a punch at Seend, so get in quickly, it is always an amazing show.

Away from Halloween vibes, those masters of vintage blues, Barrelhouse play The Southgate, Devizes, Trash Panda, The Bastard Son of Humdinger & My Mate’s Band play The Coppers Arms, Pewsey. Strange Folk at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

Stop Stop at The Vic, Swindon, Judas Rising at the Rolleston.

Congress at Salisbury Cathedral, Spritato – Inspiring Bach at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Oh, and The Lightning Seeds play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Sunday 30th, The Innes Sibun Band arrive at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, guaranteed knockout.

Spooky stuff continues as Monday 31st is the opening night for Picnic at Hanging Rock at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes; of which I’m hoping to get a review of out by Monday, or Tuesday latest. Running until 5th November, preview here.

And we’re into November, Wednesday 2nd don’t forget, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Jordan Bak is at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Keep on scrolling for future fings to do, hopefully I’ll join you real soon, hanging basket though, I ask you, evil hanging basket; why can’t they just plant flowers in the ground like normal folk? They should be brought to justice! Have a good week, the doctor told me to stay off devices and screens, so I’m outta here, going to take up badminton instead, which is an extreme sport to me!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

As Cool as an Eddie Martin; Blues at The Southgate

It was a typical, standard Saturday night at Devizes Southgate, but a typical and standard night at the Gate equates to an absolutely blinding night in most other pubs……

Amidst friendly faces, welcoming staff and warm familiar surroundings, the unpredictable drizzling autumn was set aside for Mr Eddie Martin to group with the finest drum and bass section to grace the alcove, Tom Gilkes and Jerry Soffe respectively. And together they blasted us full in face with some sublime three-piece electric blues. An unchanged formula for decades, because it works.

Though Eddie himself is diverse, the last time I saw him he was solo, filling gaps between bands in at The Wiltshire Blues and Soul Club’s grand evening at the Corn Exchange, where clad in golden suit he executed vintage blues akin to Muddy Waters. A high accolade it may well be but fully deserved. With full horn section he went for the big band style recently at the Long Street Blues Club, but here at the Gate, he’s truly rocking the electric blues, in DMs, black jeans and one too many shirt buttons open. He can do this, with apt blue shades and shaved head he looks the part, and certainly sounds it.

With a few blues covers, but nothing immediately recognisable or cliché, Eddie mostly rolled out original tracks from his plethora of albums, in a suitcase at his feet. This matched the appreciation of the slight but blossoming crowd. It was, in short, electrifying yet cool as a cucumber; an electrified cucumber, if you will. In fact, I could skewer the idiom to cool as an Eddie Martin!

Nimble on the strings, with extended instrumental breaks of mesmerising proportions, he polished those songs right there before our very eyes, and it was something to behold. I believe, if memory serves me well, my top drunken exclamation was a rather Punch and Judy, “that’s the way to do it,” because it is.

Not that this was the night I had planned, intentions were to get to Bath for a bit of ska and boss reggae with Ya Freshness, but difficulties with non-existent public transport meant I’d have to drive, and being I’ve galivanted elsewhere the past few weekends, sometimes one desires a few too many ciders, where everybody knows your…erm, cue classic American sitcom theme, because it’s apt. The Southgate is that dependable tavern, which hasn’t failed me yet, and neither on this occasion either.

Eddie, a local bluesman of international calibre knows exactly what he’s doing, Devizes renowned blues circuit love him for it. Not only does he know his way around a guitar, but he also even attaches his harmonica holder stylishly and he knows how to rouse a crowd. Which means I don’t make comparisons to blues legends lightly, but justifiably, and the thought hangs on the Howlin’ Wolf. Needless to say, I had a great night, and even flagged a taxi home with ease, cool as an Eddie Martin, what is this now, 2019? No one gets an unbooked taxi in a rank at midnight in Devizes anymore; luck is a lady!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 19th- 26th Oct 2022

Here’s our weekly summary of things to do over the coming week. It saves you surfing every individual event calendar, and saves me waffling on about some unrelated rubbish, which I admit I have a tendency to do, but in the words of the great philosopher, KC, and, of course, his Sunshine Band; that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it…… oh, I’m doing it again aren’t I?!

Onwards, not forgetting further details and links can be found on our event calendar, it’s too time consuming adding them a second time, and besides, there you can scroll away until your heart’s content, planning future weekends.


Best way to kick off live music early is Swindon’s experimental dub duo, Subject A, are at The Bell on Walcott Street, Bath, on Wednesday 19th; consider it highly recommended. Meanwhile, Beth Nielsen Chapman plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 20th sees a Very Hungry Caterpillar, on show at Neeld Hall, Chippenham.

Mr Love & Justice are at The Beehive, Swindon, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage at Chapel Arts, Bath. But the link to Faustus at Salisbury Arts Centre seems to be broken, unsure if that’s still going ahead.


Friday 21st and Trowbridge’s Pump is the place to be, Matt Owens of Noah & The Whale headlines, with the amazing Concrete Prairie in support.

The magical Lady Nade plays Pound Arts, Corsham, The Little Unsaid at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Hatepenny at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, The Reservoir Hogs at The Old Ham Tree, Holt. And in Marlborough you’ll find @59 at The Wellington, and the incredibly good fun, Dr Zebos Wheezy Club at The Bear.

That just leaves me with the tributes, Queen tribute, Majesty at Melksham Assembly Hall, while Fleetwood Bac are at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Devizes, I have got nothing at all for this Friday, unless you know different? When near-on every known pub in town put live music on last Friday night, with a guaranteed crowd-puller from Longcroft at the Corn Exchange too! This town isn’t a competition, guys, please try to coordinate, through us, if you like, but it works better for you all if we do. Rant over!


Swiftly onto Saturday 22nd, it’s Trowbridge Carnival, plus Lego Club at Chippenham Museum, free and at 3-4pm every Saturday; everything is awesome!

There’s an evening of Irish classics with Asa Murphy and Shenanigans at the Devizes Corn Exchange, and the unmissable Eddie Martin Band is back for some blues at The Southgate.

Daz n Chave at Neeld Community & Arts Centre, Chippenham sounds a laugh, and there’s a Melksham Rock n Roll Club dance this week, with Glenn Darren & The Krewkats.

Full-Tone Orchestra presents their Symphonie Fantastique at Marlborough College, and if you check the quote on the poster, yes, I said that! It’s always nice to be quoted, on the rare occasion I say something nice, that is!

Sheer are down the Trowbridge Town Hall, putting on Lucky Number 7 and the Lindup Brothers, with promising local teen band Boston Green in support. Meanwhile The Forgetting Curve play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. A tribute to Pearl Jam at The Vic, Swindon, Earl Ham, and Tundra plays The Woodland’s Edge.

But if you want to boss the night away with some serious skanking, I cannot recommend Bristol’s legendary ska and reggae skinhead, Ya Freshness, of Strictly Rockers Records enough, who is with his Big Boss Band at Odd Down Football Club in Bath. Fiver a shot for a cracking knees up. In fact, what the heck, let’s make this one Editor’s Pick of The Week!

For a mellower experience in Bath, try The Tom Petty Legacy at Chapel Arts.

The Grief Opera, Love Goes On at St Andrew’s, Chippenham, Shift Social presents I Was Born in the Wrong Decade at Salisbury Arts Centre, and a Vintage Bazaar is followed by Moments of Pleasure, The Music of Kate Bush, at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Halloween Scavenger Hunt at Hillworth Park on Sunday 23rd October, PSG Choir hold an autumn concert at Devizes Town Hall, and the Chas Thorogood Trio play an afternoon session at the Southgate.

Kavus Torabi, Richard Wileman & Amy Fry at The Vic, Swindon, Richard and Amy appear on our Julia’s House compilation album, show them your support if possible. Always in for a great night with the Joh Amor Band, who play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. And oh, CSF wrestling at the Cheese & Grain finishes our weekend off.


Got nothing through the weekdays I’m afraid, but lots of updating to the calendar still to do, so check in from time to time. That is, of course, until Wednesday, the 26th, when White Horse Opera presents L’elisir D’amore at Lavington School, which is running until 29th October, and also running on the same dates, Female Transport at the Rondo Theatre, Bath.

And that’s your lot for this week, can I go now?!


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REVIEW – Eddie Martin’s Big Blues Band (with The Little Big Horns) @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 8th October 2022

Big Band Blues

Andy Fawthrop

The Long Street Blues Club season continued last night with some great music.

First up was Kelvin Davies (guitar) and Gary Jones (harmonica), a duo making their first visit to the club.  They delivered an absolutely charming set of upbeat numbers, wandering around blues, folk, country and ragtime.  Kelvin’s guitar-picking was first rate, and he was ably supported by some haunting and expressive harmonica work by Gary.  The audience absolutely loved them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ian had them back again in the future.  Great entertainment.

Then onto the main business of the night, and we were treated to a rare, if not unique performance.  Not that Eddie Martin is any kind of stranger to Devizes audiences, having played at a number of local venues over the past few years.  What was unusual this time however was the format.  We’ve seen him play solo, and we’ve seen him play fronting his own trio and supporting various blues-based combos, but last night we were treated to a run-out in a “big band” format.  Eddie shared that had actually done this before, but many years ago, but as far as I was concerned, this was a very special “one-off” show.

And how great it was.  Setting up as a 7-piece, fronted by Eddie on guitar and harmonica, the band featured drums, bass, keyboards, trumpet (Phil Storer), trombone (Andy Wrathbone) and saxophone (Patsy Gamble).  And what a lovely fat, rich sound they produced.  It was funky, it was full-on and it carried some real heft.  Paying his usual tributes and homage to such masters as Elmore James, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Muddy Waters and Pee-Wee Ellis, Eddie led the band through two superb sets of funky blues, with some great early 60s dance rhythms.  I was put in mind at times of Southside Johnny & The Asbury Dukes, which in my book is a big compliment.

We had some quite jazzy sections, the musicians playing off each other and taking their well-deserved solos, and all the while looking as if they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Eddie himself, turned out in his usual dapper style, with his trademark gravel voice, absolutely led from the front, chatting with the audience between songs and working the room with some call-and-response material.

We had some great-titled songs – “Tough Times”, “Someone’s Making Money, But I Know It’s Not Me”, “The Birds And The Bees” and “With A Big Enough Lever You Can Lift The World”.  The set concluded with a standing ovation and a fully-deserved encore.  Cracking stuff, and a great night’s entertainment.

And if you want to catch Eddie again, he’s playing The Southgate, this time as a trio, on Saturday 22nd October.  I suggest you get yourselves along there – you won’t be disappointed.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 14th October 2022  Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 5th November 2022  Robbie McIntosh Band

Friday 11th November 2022   Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th November 2022   Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio

Friday 23rd December 2022  Gee Baby I Love You


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 6th -12th October 2022

Here’s what we’ve found to do round and about Wiltshire this coming week, unless you like staying home, scowling at your electric smart meter as it ticks down pounds like a stopwatch attached to a timebomb.…..

In a week where our illustrious MP Danny K’s words of reassurance blazed a rim-job op-ed in the trustworthy journal Gazelle & Herod, that we need not worry, he doesn’t think the illusory budget car-crash will affect votes for the Conservative Party next election, and he’s probably right too, there’s much slander of opposition to be done, lots of backhanding persuasive mainstream media to convince you starving to death is all for the best for Britain.

One point I would like to make, for all in Devizes, is we are saddened to hear about the violence last Saturday. Devizine is not here to report such incidents, but we wish the victims well. I was shocked, though, by the Gazette’s completely superfluous reasoning to use a stock image of the British Lion free house, as the event did NOT even happen there, rather further along the road.

If a bike was nicked in the same area, would they post a piccy of Bikes N Boards, or if a dog bit a cat, would they pin it on the vets? What if a Hawaiian pizza started chucking its pineapple onto an unsuspecting pepperoni one, would they launch an attack on Dominoes?! I hope you get my point, The British Lion is a wonderful pub, and for numerous times I’ve visited, over decades, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never once seen the slightest bit of trouble there, not so much as one fellow tickling another inappropriately with a feather! The British is a great and safe pub, don’t be persuaded by wonky journalism, they didn’t even get the name right and called it the Red Lion, for crying out loud into a sick bucket!     

These days, provided you take Shanks’s pony, it’s probably cheaper to go out than heat your home, so on we go. Don’t forget all details and links can be found on our magical updating event calendar, HERE.

And just to note, my plug-in crystal ball is whacking up leccy bill, so excuse me if I didn’t have a premonition of your event, perhaps tell me about next time, eh?! It’s free to be here, we’re all friends…. most of the time. Of the few Karens I did joyfully nark on Facebook this week, one had the audacity of calling me a snob, which was so funny I had to get all Iain Wallis on her!


Now I’m waffling, don’t mind me. Thursday 6th October, find Jambon Chapeau, a new duo of Mike Pickering and Derrick Jepson of Paradox at the Three Crowns, Devizes for a Fantasy Radio Live Lounge from 7-9pm.

Chippenham Community Conference in the Neeld. Two days of guest speakers, networking, priority setting and celebrating the work of the community and voluntary sector in the Chippenham area.

If not, The Moscow Drug Club play The Cheese & Grain, Frome; you may’ve seen these guys at Devizes Arts Festival.


Friday 7th and Calne Music & Arts Festival opens, a fortnight with lots going on, and ending next Saturday with the amazing Concrete Prairie, more on individual events with this as we go.  

 The London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra play at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes, and staying in town there’s options, options, people.

Sheer Music is back in town with a freebie at The Exchange, our very own NervEndings with Lucky Number 7; that will be loud, and I’ve rumour you might be able to remain hiding in a corner when the nightclub kicks in afterwards!

Meanwhile the wonderful Sour Apple play at The Pelican, a gig postponed after the Queen’s Funeral.

Over in Trowbridge, Jol Rose supports the Often Herd at the Pump, while The Soul Strutters strut to The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, tribute All Floyd play Salisbury Arts Centre, and Beatles tribute the Prefab Four play The Vic, Swindon.

Staying in Swindon, Coleview Music Festival has sold out for the Saturday, but there’s still some Friday tickets and Sunday is pay on the door with families’ welcome. Friday has Go Span Duran, Tasha Leaper as Madonna and Talk in Code, Sunday find Pink Mac, Splat the Rat, Disco Dollz and Busy Fools.


Saturday 8th, and Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club is from 3-4pm, every Saturday. Happy 40th to The Royal Wotton Bassett Orchestra, who play at St Bartholomew’s Church.

The first Mop Fair in Marlborough, the following is next Saturday 15th.

Time for some Long Street Blues Club in Devizes, when Eddie Martin brings his full Big Blues Band to the Conservative Club. Over the road, the wonderful The Hoo-Doos play The Southgate. Things promise to get ska, a little way down the hill, at Potterne Social Club, when Andy McGowan does his One-Man Nutty Boys Tribute.

The Britpop Boys are booked to play The Consti Club, Chippenham, but do check ahead on this one, The Consti Club have been going through some changes, have sadly axed some event organisers from their books, and I’m not to speculate the reasoning, but some events might not be going ahead. Back to Calne Music & Arts Festival, they have a Family Day, and Opera Anywhere presents The Magic Flute.

In Trowbridge the Pump presents the Finn Collinson Band, and Sonic Alert are at Stallards. The Blunders at the trusty The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and if you’re in Bath, well, I’d highly recommend Rosalie Cunningham at Bath Arts Centre.

The Rondo Theatre has an Andrew O’Neill tour, with the strapline, “we are not in the least bit afraid of ruins; we carry a new world in our hearts.” Jen Brister tour, The Optimist at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Mad Dog McRea at The Cheese & Grain, and Sweet Machine at Tree House, Frome.

Operation 77 @ The Woodland Edge, Swindon, and staying in Swindon, do check FatFest at Level III. Fatfest rock event is in support of Fatboy’s Charity, raising money to help kids dealing with cancer and leukaemia. Confirmed to appear so far are Dan Reed Trio, Revival Black, Twister and local band Fall From Ruin.


Onto Sunday the 9th, and Pewsham Scarecrow Trail begins, The Worried Men play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, and Herman Dune plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

For Calne Music & Arts Festival, there’s The Serenata Guitar Trio, and Even Song at St. Mary’s Parish Church. The festival continues Monday, with The Yehudi Menuhin School In Concert, The Kassia Trio, Louis Stephenson Piano Recital, and a Drink & Draw.


Tuesday 11th and find the regular Improvers Art course at The Cause, Chippenham. Calne Music & Arts Festival brings you Music Scholars of Marlborough College In Concert, and Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow at Marden House.

Bird watchers might like RSPB: Pura Vida – Costa Rica’s Magical Birds at Salisbury Arts Centre.

Wednesday 12th, Calne Music & Arts Festival has the Calne Singers ‘Songs from the Shows,’ and The Roaring Trowmen.

Don’t forget Wednesday night is acoustic jam night at the Southgate Devizes.

Salisbury Playhouse has The Wellspring, and Rondo Theatre, Bath has The Greatest Magician, and no, that’s not Kwasi Kwarteng…. A snob, honestly, did you see them call me that, on the book of Face?! Oh, my years, could you get any less snobby than me, I’m picking my butt crack as I write this shit?! Hey, you have a good weekend now, take care out there.


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The Best He Could Do at The Time, Joe Hicks’ Debut Album

A little late for the party, as ever, I’ve been procrastinating, and my computer is equally as listless; failing to save my original words on this. Meanwhile Newbury good guy, but welcomed regular on our circuit, Joe Hicks has been busy with a debut album launched yesterday, worthy of a rewrite……

Titled The Best I Could Do at The Time, Joe is seriously playing it down, like the nerd at college who tells you they “haven’t done much” for their assignment, so you follow suit only to find them offering a feasible cure for all known diseases in a presentation with U2 providing the soundtrack, while the best you can offer is a scribbling of your pet cat, which you did on the bus journey there.

The opening tune, Sail Away, for example, is far punchier than David Gray’s appellation of the same name, and we won’t contemplate sailing down the Rod Stewart route. Though it’s best pigeonholed like Gray’s, as folktronica, there’s a whole lot more going on here from this stalwart who could just as easily fit comfortably into a blues dance as he could a folk festival, and does.        

The blurb suggests The Best I Could Do at the Time is “a journey through many of the emotional peaks and troughs we go through as humans,” Joe explained, “and more specifically me as a musician in such uncertain times. It’s about acknowledging them, living in those feelings for a while and ultimately finding the hope we all have within us to take control and rise above the worst of them. It’s about doing the best we can with the tools that we have.”

The first thing to hit you is the sheer production quality, a euphoric yet upbeat anthemic joy from the off, Sail Away, sustains the timeless pop formula, making him balance on the edge between aforementioned folk and blues, and allowing this album to flow tidy, but traverse any given pop subgenre at will, while retaining originality and stylised inimitability.

If One More Step, the timeless pop second track is a prime example, it builds on layers like a contemporary hit of say a George Ezra-Bruno Marrs hybrid, Maybe When It’s Over follows, and this stretches back further, reeking of unruffled seventies soul, like Curtis Mayfield.

Four tracks in and you’re safe in knowledge to accept anything, Pieces is sublime acoustic fluff, and there was a line in the subtle skank of Lost in Love, “oh, such a reckless emotion,” where I paused for thought on a comparison which I couldn’t quite put my finger on, until it came to me; the velvety vocals of Paul Young, especially when he sang Come Back and Stay.

Mirror Mirror reflects an indie side-order, while Out of My Mind surprisingly nods of township jive, designating a hint of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Hand in Hand settles the pace once again to this euphoria, so that even if the narrative traverses the downhearted at times, it’s always a musical ride with the glass half full. And herein is my point; this is ageless pop goodness, borrowing from what went before, but fresh and contemporary throughout, which is the even balance of magnitude.

The final trio of tracks on this eleven-strong album returns to the early eighties pop formula with, Alive, folktronica goodness with the inspiring Make It Home, and Weightless polishes it off with the pop roll of The Corrs, or something along those lines, though the whole shebang holds itself in its own pocket.

It’s a wonderful album, deservedly to be considered a remarkable achievement; The Best I Could Do at The Time huh? Well, the time is nigh. Having made a name for himself as a session guitarist, Joe Hicks was ‘BBC Introducing Artist of the Week’, directly from his first solo single in 2017. Since he’s built up a sizable online following, touring the UK and Europe, appearing at CarFest, The Big Feastival, Are You Listening? Festival, Pub in the Park, over thirty Sofar Sounds shows and slots supporting Sam Fender, James Walsh and Starsailor.

Here in Devizes, he’s regularly appeared at Long Street Blues Club and Saddleback, and is always a delight to chat with; just a genuine modest talent, of which this album truly blows the lid off his cover. I got your number, Hicks; bloomin’ amazing album, my son!

Link-Tree to Buy


Trending…..

Ace-High Debut Album from Concrete Prairie

Some albums are an immediate love at first listen, but as time passes you start to see holes. Others take time to digest, growers; you learn to love them. Going in blind on this one, I’ve seen the Swindon-based band name floating around locally, favourites at The Tuppenny, Trowbridge’s Pump, and they knocked it out of Town Gardens at My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad. I’ve listed them on our event calendar, and well, guess I just liked the ironic rootsy name, Concrete Prairie, reminding me of Marley’s Concrete Jungle. I was more than pleasantly surprised.…..

It did both, an immediate love, ever-growing. There’re no holes here, their self-titled debut album, out tomorrow (2nd September) is made from solid rhinestone. Solemn when needed, indignantly peppy otherwise, but always chiaroscuro and earnest. Americana, folk noir, of the like of Johnny Cash, vocally akin, with the depth and command of Jim Morrison, and, I kid you not, dammit it’s on that greatness level too.

There are secret treasures buried here, though lyrics chant, “you know when shit hits the fan, I’ll be the man who’s picking up pieces,” its humble Nashville-esque beginnings doesn’t prepare you fully for the finale. The Devil Dealt the Deck is an ambitious tragedy-come-rhapsody ending, it is their Stairway to Heaven, bronc-riding Othello, sublimely moreish.

Betwixt them are eight other solid and lengthy tunes, caringly crafted, exceptionally well delivered. Ballads of Bakersfield backbeat like I Wish you Well roll into the particularly Cash sounding Day by Day, merging into acoustic fingerstyle backwood blues rock by the haunting Hard Times, when things suddenly head foot-stomping bluegrass. By the upbeat People Forget you’re fully immersed in its evocative depictions, as it weaves and blends all subgenres in-between, wonderfully wrapped in this aforementioned dark prose.

Astonished I messaged them, to confirm this was their debut album, all too easy to perceive this as the project of legendary rock stars who hoisted in the best producer to reconnect their roots after decades of golden discography. They did in fact, find the ears of John Reynolds, producer for The Indigo Girls, Damien Dempsey and Sinead O’Connor.

Take the forlorn howl of Guthrie in his darkest moment, there’s broken characters of Springsteen’s Nebraska in the narrative too, yet somehow those desperate nuances here rise above both their melancholic murmur; it’s got edge but at best times it rides it frenetic and fierce; rootin’, tootin’ and a-shootin’!

Joe, from the band tells me, “It’s been a few years in the making due to some somewhat global delays!” But comparable to an artist who cannot leave a painting alone for finishing touches, it’s obvious after a listen, there’s a serious amount of work gone into this. Yet no one creates their magnum opus so early, surely? I confess I liked Springsteen’s inaugural The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle, or Floyd’s Meddle better than the matured Born to Run or Dark Side of the Moon, but I accept their place is lesser popularly; if this then is the par of those, I want to be around when they do their masterwork.

There’s a fair bit of cliché Americana around and about, wishy-washy mediocre, but these guys aren’t sitting around a campfire with a can of beans playing the fart game here, this is concentrated, solid material, a real sheriff’s badge. This is how it should be done, if you catch my drift, and its equal distance away from Achy Breaky Heart as acid-techno is!

Launch day is tomorrow, across streaming platforms. CDs are up for pre-order on Amazon and the album will also be seeing a vinyl release: link here.

They’re play Swindon Shuffle, and there’s an album launch at Moles, Bath, Saturday 3rd September with Barney Kenny in support. Tickets here, are just a fiver.


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Recreational Trespass with N/SH

Arriving just in time to catch Swindon schoolteacher Garri Nash by weekday, ambient acoustic musician N/SH by gig-nights, at one of the early mini-festivals of The Crown at Bishop’s Cannings this summer, I’d missed local covers band Paradox play before him. It perhaps wasn’t the most appropriate follow, Paradox roused the audience with lively renowned … Continue reading “Recreational Trespass with N/SH”

The Scribes on a Journey

In the distressing event of a relationship breakdown some take to drinking their sorrows away, others might venture off to “find themselves,” whereas creative types often channel their innermost moods into their art. Themes of love lost are commonplace, arguably cliché, but where Phil Collins sang, “take a look at me now, there’s just an … Continue reading “The Scribes on a Journey”

Wharf Theatre Opens For Autumn/Winter Season with Hedda Gabler

The wonderful Wharf Theatre in Devizes is reopening this month for a new autumn-winter season; I know, don’t say “winter,” not yet! Hedda Gabler is the first production, running from 19th to 24th September. It’s written by Henrik Ibsen with a translation by Michael Meyer. The Wharf’s chief director, Lewis Cowen is on this one, and it’s … Continue reading “Wharf Theatre Opens For Autumn/Winter Season with Hedda Gabler”

Shut the Front Door and Catch a Bus Month with Wiltshire Council!

The lunacy, much less the audacity to suggest it, of Wiltshire Concillors, and their inability to accept reality, is highlighted in September by the singlemost insane campaign to-date; Catch a Bus Month. “A double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and switching just one journey in 25 to the bus would … Continue reading “Shut the Front Door and Catch a Bus Month with Wiltshire Council!”

12 Bars Later at The Southgate

Could be a pub crawl, more likely the chord progression of blues, but my drunken jesting query met with a shrug from the guitarist, the name 12 Bars Later means either, whatever!

I might not have been so far from a truth, in that over this bank holiday 12 Bars Later nail four bars; played the Crown at Bishop’s Cannings Saturday afternoon, switched to The Southgate later, and Sunday it’s over to Calne to play the Talbot’s mini-fest at 2pm, and the Gurkha Baynjan Restaurant at 8. Given a few more days I reckoned they could’ve shaken the rafters of a further eight!

Why is this narrowboat three-piece Wiltshire blues band fully-booked for gigs this weekend? Proof in the pudding, arm twisted, I nipped to the Gate to find out for myself.

Arriving late due to FullTone, it was immediately obvious, jigging up to the bar like the crows in Dumbo, their sound in its simplicity is irresistible, their stage pressence is immediately likeable. Confident Female fronted bassist, Helen Carter, banters well with the slight crowd and has the gritty vocal range of Joan Jett, while drummer and guitarist work in unison,  and we’re grinding to some down and dirty electric blues.

Yet there’s something more universally appealing here, 12 Bars Later will hook any classic tune duck, and ease it out of the pool with a blues makeover. The prize on the butt of said duck for anyone who books them will be enthused and delighted punters. This could be because they were once known as The Blue Rose Band, a seemingly more function band type name.

So yeah, while Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and obviously apt Rolling Stones covers were adroitly delivered with passion and a deserved hard-edge, they applied the same ethos to some well-crafted originals, of which they’ve recently recorded for a forthcoming debut, and what was more for the supportive audience, sing-along covers like Elvis’ Burning Love, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry, and even Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood. The latter of which they amusingly claimed was “as close to disco as we get!”

It’s an appropriate rebranding, for a highly entertaining pub band; certainly floated my boat, and likewise the blossoming crowd at The Southgate, as FullTone closed and folk headed over. For me, as acomplished and professional the sound of a full orchestra pushing pop hits is, it was of a generation next, for me, and I couldn’t nostalgically relate to Britney and Spice Girls covers any more than I did at the time. The Southgate was my safe haven, and boy, 12 Bars Later fit there like a glove, cumulative to another fantastic night at our dependable best pub in Devizes for the down-to-earth music aficionado.


REVIEW – Skinny Molly @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 20th August 2022

What A Sell Out

Andy Fawthrop

Seems ages since we were last turning up at the Con Club for Long Street Blues, but last night the new Autumn/ Winter season began, and there we all were again.  And what a way to start, with a cracking US band and a ticket sell-out….

The place was, therefore, obviously packed out. Whilst it might suit the music – hot & sweaty –I think it’s time that the Con Club looked into installing some air-con.  Just like the The Homing’s gig back in June, as part of the Devizes Arts Festival, the room was really stifling and airless.

Nevertheless we had some great entertainment to distract the huge crowd.  First up were Koerie & Andy, a duo new to me, introduced by host Ian Hopkins as recently discovered busking.  As might be expected with such a heritage, they were a little raw and rough around the edges, but very effective and entertaining for all that.  Using guitar, vocals and harmonica, they delivered a string of covers, including “Wild Thing” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  The crowd gave them a good listen and a good welcome, and hopefully we’ll see them again.

But that was as nothing to the roar that went up went Skinny Molly finally hit the stage to start their 75-minute one-set performance.

This band, hailing mostly from Tennessee, is a major force on the US Southern Rock scene.  They were formed by guitarist/vocalist Mike Estes (formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot), original Molly Hatchet guitarist Dave Hlubek (who has since left the band) and drummer Kurt Pietro (who also played drums for Blackfoot).  By 2008, the line-up was solidified with the addition of Blackfoot guitarist/vocalist Jay Johnson and  Grand Ole Opry stalwart bassist Luke Bradshaw.  And this was the line-up featured last night.

Skinny Molly’s mantra is apparently “Never let one fan leave a show disappointed” and they set about trying to fulfil this promise right from the outset, with a string of rock-infused blues and country numbers. There was newer SM material, mixed in with some older Skynard classics, and some covers.  Free’s “Wishing Well” was perhaps a surprise, less so Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road”, but the biggest cheer of the night of course came about an hour in when they launched in to probably their biggest hit “Sweet Home Alabama”.  But there was nothing one-dimensional about their material – we had a good old Southern gumbo of different ingredients, including southern rock, old country, blues, hard rock, and general Americana.

They built up the mood and the atmosphere, and there were soon plenty of folks rocking along and dancing. They kept the inter-song chat to a minimum, instead focusing of packing in as much music as possible, culminating in a standing ovation and well-deserved encore. I don’t think anyone went home disappointed, so I guess they did exactly what they said on the tin.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 8th October 202-   Eddie Martin’s Big Blues Band

Friday 14th October 2022  Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 5th November 2022  Robbie McIntosh Band

Friday 11th November 2022   Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th November 2022   Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio

Friday 23rd December 2022  Gee Baby I Love You


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 24th – 31st August 2022

We can’t wait until roundup Tuesday, when we usually roundup the weekly roundup, it’s the last big summer blowout bank holiday, so we’re simply too excited and thought you might wanna plan early, so here it is, hold on to your horses… or just let them run wild, I’m not worried, just too excited, did I say I was too excited?!

Repetition is fine, but there’s no links here, too time-consuming, so please us this link to our event calendar, and you can grab details and ticket links from there, but you knew that already, I hope. Oh, did I say, repetition is fine?

All quiet on Wednesday 24th, but if you’re eager to get the ball rolling, 41 Fords play the Kilminton Home Guard Club in Warminster, entry by donation, and don’t forget Wednesday s are the regular acoustic jam night down our trusty Southgate in Devizes, and is always a wonderful night.


Thursday 25th then, and Honey Fest kicks off at the Barge on HoneyStreet, and banging out the whole weekend; I believe there’s a few tickets up for grabs.

Meanwhile, unmissable rock soloist Adam Masterson plays The Tuppenny in Swindon with Jules Hill in support. Bath Forum have The Billy Joel Songbook, and lots of lucky people will be making their way to either Reading Festival or GoatFest; have fun!


Warming up to Friday, the 26th August, when our brilliant Irish folk duo, the Celtic Roots Collective are at the Pelican in Devizes.

Over in the land of chips and ham, there’s an August Bank Holiday Beer & Cider Festival at the Three Crowns, and ska-punkers Operation77 play The Black Horse, Chippenham.

Illingworth takes on triple gigs this weekend, catch them at Flan O’Brian’s in Bath on Friday, where Komedia have a night with The Ministry of Burlesque’s Cabaret; ding dong!

Mod band Peloton plays The Vic, Swindon, and wow, the Cheese & Grain, Frome have Morcheeba, yes, I said Morcheeba; show offs!


Saturday 27th, is the big one. Shall I start it with the….

Editor’s Pick of Week: The Full Tone Festival, The Green, Devizes

Yep, you probably guessed it, it’s time for the hills of Devizes to come alive with the sound of music. It is the Full Tone Festival Weekend. Hurry and get your ticket, and say hi if you see me wandering around like a lost puppy. Said what needed to be said about this corker, let the show begin.

Over in Devizes Market Place from 9am-1pm there’s a Mind, Body & Spirit Market. There’s free live music all day at the Crown Inn, Bishops Cannings, with 12 Bars Later, Plan of Action, and It’s Complicated. Later, 12 Bars Later nip across to the Southgate, Devizes!

And where do I even begin elsewhere? Holt Scarecrow Trail begins, it’s Aldbourne Carnival, a Rod Stewart tribute at The Pewsham, Near Chippenham, there’s a Summer Party at Westbury Cons Club with Wade Merritt and Jay, followed by People Like Us, and the West of England Youth Orchestra perform at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

A debut performance, at the Gloucester Road Conservative Club in Trowbridge for soul band Dimensions, and that’s free entry. Kurt Vile & The Violators at Bath Forum, Apollo Ghosts at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, and in Swindon, the wonderful The Daybreakers are live at The Vic, while The Tin Shack Band play the Woodlands Edge. Oh, and The Swiss Chalet has a Harry’s Heroes fundraiser.


Sunday is where things usually start to calm down, but not this weekend. The 28th sees the second day of Full Tone, Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby and Potterne Festival.

Illingworth play The Churchill Arms in West Lavington today, and a young local band to watch out for, Nothing Rhymes With Orange are in support.

There’s a mini fest at the Talbot in Calne with Six O’clock Circus, People Like Us, Wet Frank, End of Story and others.

LodgeFest aptly at Warminster’s Lodge, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, and the Hammervilles have a bank holiday beach party at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Swindon is gearing up for the Shuffle next month, but in the meantime, Shades of Seattle plays the Vic, highly recommended Atari Pilot are at the Castle, and for the kids, there’s always Milkshake live at the Wyvern.


If you’re still standing in Devizes on Monday, 29th August, here’s what to do…. Black Rat Monday, down The British Lion, with the Celtic Roots Collective and a jam to follow. Or Finley & Mark support The Reason at the Three Crowns; nice either way!

From 5pm Illingworth will be at the Waterfront, Pewsey, and the Beverley May Band play The Milk Churn, Melksham. It’s the Chippenham River Festival, there’s a massive line-up for a free music festival across the entire village of Box, it is Box Rocks. The Lost Trades and Dolly Mavies headline a mini-festival at The Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, and Abba tribute 21st Century ABBA play The Bowl in Town Gardens, Swindon.

I’m sure there’s going to be more added as the week goes by, so keep up-to-date with our event calendar. That’s the weekend forecast to date, though.

Tuesday 30th and Gently Tender play The Royal Oak in Marlborough, the regular Jazz Knights at Swindon’s Royal Oak has the Kevin Figes Quartet, during the day there’s a Farmyard Circus at Queen’s Park, and Russell Brand comes to the Wyvern.

Wednesday 31st, look out for the Wind in the Willows at the Corsham Almshouses, and phew, that’s me done, dusted and ready for a nap; have a great weekend!


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th-24th August 2022

Ah this is more like it, the English summer we know and love! Tad wet, but here’s what we have to do this week and the last weekend before the big summer blow-out which is the August Bank Holiday.….

Don’t forget, more info and all links for bookings are on our event calendar, where you can also plan ahead, so long as it keeps updating, which I’m trying my best to, honest!

There’s a floral demonstration at Devizes Town Hall on Wednesday 17th August, by the Devizes Flower Club; opens at 7pm, £5.

Parents head for the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon where there’s a messy art session and a singing day ahead.

Manchester’s noughties art rock band Everything Everything play the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 18th, and again, kids can visit The Musical Zoo at the wonderful Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Three bands at The Beehive, Swindon on Thursday, The Acoustic Buzz 52, Larkham & Hall and Jol Rose. Also, at The Vic the have Monasteries, Creak, Persadian & Chasing Dolls. The Summer Youth Project performance of Legally Blonde is at the Wyvern.


Onto Friday 19th, and it’s the Wine Tasting event at St Mary’s Devizes, previewed here.

If you’re lucky you can still book a fantastic Survival Camp for any young adventurous children who are aged between 10 years old and 12 years old, with the Wild Edge Survival Camp at West Lavington.

Folk duo Fly Yeti Fly are at The Bear Inn, Bradford on Avon, The Beverley May Band at The Kings Arms, Melksham, Hayden Lloyd at Komedia, Bath. @59 play The Wellington in Marlborough.

In Swindon, Judas Rising plays the Vic, while Bobbi Nicholles is at Woodlands Edge.


Saturday 20th, it’s my pick of the week; the Bath Comic & Gaming Festival at Bath Uni. Full of UK based comic artist guests, some film and tv guests and cosplay guests, a dinosaur zone, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters and Star Wars props, and lots of stuff for kids to empty fanboy dad’s wallet! Lord, help me!

Roots and folk at the Southgate Devizes, with Barney Kelly, and the welcome return of Long Street Blues Club with Skinny Molly, I believe is a sell-out. Worth checking though, I might be wrong, as, I sometimes am; I said sometimes!

Dutty Moonshine Big Band play The Barge, HoneyStreet, Emily Barker is at The Pump in Trowbridge, and another successful Pipe & Slippers Rave at Trowbridge Town Hall goes off; I have to see this for myself; dust off the old whistle and white gloves! Oh, and if Sausage & Cider is more your thing, there’s a Day of it at The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve.

Shame Live at Lydiard had to cancel, but People Like Us play The Swiss Chalet, Swindon and Click! are at Woodlands Edge.


Sunday afternoon on the 21st August then, has another Fantasy Radio Lark in Hillworth Park, Devizes, though I’ve no idea who’s playing, because they never say. But Chaz Throughgood is at the Southgate.

It’s the August Jam for the exclusive Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club, in their hiding place at Lacock, while the fantastic Sarah C. Ryan Band play a lazy afternoon at Richard Jefferies Museum, Swindon, and Jim Blackmann plays Komedia, Bath.

And that’s your weekend over. On Tuesday 23rd Radio Banska play Jazz Knights at The Royal Oak, Swindon, and at this moment in time I’ve nought else in the week until Thursday’s opening of HoneyFest at the Barge on HoneyStreet.

But it will be bank holiday next weekend, and there’s much to be looking into and planning. We’ll be at The Full Tone Festival on the Green in Devizes, and that one, I promise you, will be awesome, but not the same without you, so get your ticket as soon as possible!

But yeah, same weekend you can find Reading Festival, GoatFest, Potterne Festival, Holt Scarecrow Trail, the Great Cheverall Soap Box Derby, Mini Talbot Fest at The Talbot, Calne, LodgeFest at The Lodge, Warminster, an M4 Classic Car & Bike Show in Chippenham, Chippenham River Festival, a live music festival at the Lamb Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, 21st Century ABBA at The Bowl, Town Gardens, Swindon as well as multitude of smaller gigs at just about every local pub and venue you can mention; and it’s all here on our event calendar, just hope the rain gives it a break!


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Jon Amor in Residency – August 7th 2022 – The Southgate Inn

By Ian Diddams

After eight months of being other engaged on the first Sunday of each month, with run throughs of self-authored radio plays, Rugby weekends to Edinburgh, and rehearsals for Pirates of Penzance and Macbeth, I finally had a spare slot to come and see Jon Amor in residency at The Southgate Inn, Devizes.

Given this was Jon’s EIGHTH appearance this year at the venue it’s a somewhat daunting task to review him following in the footsteps of Messrs Worrow and Fawthrop .. but here I am in an attempt to not regurgitate the same old cliches and fawning sycophancy.

Errr… ummm… hmmm… ahhh…
So much for that attempt then! So leaving that aside …

Jon – the lanky piece of piss from the Hoax according to Jeff Beck – was as ever at his ease in his manor. Joining him were his constant companions (at least at the Southgate!) the incomparable Jerry Soffe on bass and Tom Gilkes on drums – more of them later. And after a couple of shoulder loosening openers of superb class this month’s guest … Muddy Manninen of Wishbone Ash, Patsy Gamble and Black Pearl fame. And even with the superb introduction to the gig, the class rose yet again as Muddy strummed his way through the first joint number.

And the evening just got better and better and better. Swapping between themselves on rhythm and lead, Jon and Muddy led us through raucous numbers to classic blues over and over again. And no sooner had it seemed they’d just begun … it was half time and a chance to replenish glasses and take a breather from the heady atmosphere outside in the delightful beer garden of the Southgate.

Soon it was however time for more of the same, and what a second half. How anybody can say they don’t like blues always defeats me and the guys took us all to even more stratospheric delights. Aside from the phenomenal talents of our two strummers, the backing boys shone though. Jerry every bit the standard bassist with t shirt, shorts and trainers had his own moment to shine with sublime solos and interjections, the coolest member of the quartet (well, he IS a basis 😊 ). And Tom… well… BLOODY HELL! I recall the first ever drum solo I saw aged about twelve maybe, at the Chatham Central Halls of the Dutch Swing College Band – the rest of the band left the stage – no doubt to toke and drink up – and the drummer did his thing for several minutes. I was mesmerised. I’ve loved a good drum solo since and I wasn’t disappointed as Tom got his chance to demonstrate his sublime skillset for many minutes until he finally begged for release from his band mates as he tired, to a standing ovation.

A chum I grew up with a million years ago is no mean drummer himself, and runs a recording studio in Southern California now; I sent him a video of Tom’s work and he replied “He’s a very good drummer. Those little grace notes he’s playing on the hi hat in that last clip is classy.” So there you have it – not only a brilliant drummer but also a Devizine review from San Diego!

All good things eventually come to an and we said farewell to Jon and Muddy and – of course! Tom and Jerry! The connection between all four of them was palpable and the joy palpable. Jon has always come across as a genial easy-going guy of course, but I commented to him afterwards that he looked really happy on set. Broad grins and smiles all round. Muddy was a total delight to see and hear play, true class again. We are so fortunate to be able to draw upon Jon’s circle of friends in the business in this manner, and it’s no small kudos to Dave and Debs at the Southgate for the residency slot and the concept of “And Friends”.

As a final world then, it’s only fair to quote my chum from SoCal once again …

“It’s a good day when you stumble upon players of this calibre down the pub!”

Isn’t it just?


Jon Amor, Friends, and the Southgate

Jeepers. No one works that hard on a Sunday, surely? Even if your boss shoves a Sunday shift unwillingly on you, you brush as much as you can under the carpet; anything which can wait until Monday, should do. I’ve mentioned it in passing, but not given Jon Amor’s monthly residency at the Southgate full coverage before, because those who know, know anyway.…..

For procrastination isn’t in our Devizes’ blues living legend’s vocabulary, neither is the notion it’s only a free pub gig. Jon Amor and friends blows the Southgate down, every first Sunday of the month. The like you’d happily pay a ticket stub for, and he throughly loves every second of it.

It’s a pub Sunday roast with a difference; you’re the meat. Jon bangs up the heat and cooks like Heston Blumenthal on a promise, usually drafting in a renowned sous chef from his network of astounding bluesmen. On this occasion King Street Turnaround bassist, Jerry Soffe and quickfire drummer Tom Gilkes joined him, along with the single most dexterous keyboardist I’ve had the pleasure to witness, John Baggot.

With more to appease than Devizes blues afictionardos in the middle-aged mosh pit, being footfall decended clockwork from DOCA’s fantastic Picnic in the Park, Jon didn’t concern himself to warm the oven first, sizzling our tender loins with his signature ‘Juggernaut,’ I was assured from start, this was a hip rub with michelin star garnish.

Baggot was the gravy boat, seemingly improv throughout, his sublime skill at the keyboard poured the stock on so thickly, contrails were visible from his hands. Complimenting Jon, Tom and Jerry’s jam, it came together impeccably. We’re looking at the Devizes’ very own juke joint here, the tunes they played through unimportant when you’re going with the flow, the outstanding quality is the only element paramount for mentioning.

See, I’m a world music lover, mightily impressed by DOCA’s ethos of providing our town with these slices of something all together different for these back waters. But due to Dad’s taxi service I rocked up belated enough only to catch the finale of their carnival warmup at Hillworth; beguiling marimba rhythm band, London-based Otto & The Mutapa Calling. Their enchanting tempo breezed through the crowd and trees beyond, contrasting in genre to the familiarity of what was to follow a stone throw away at our Southgate. Yet to palsy-walsyily acquaint with electric blues is to Devizes what Merseybeat is to Liverpool or triphop to Bristol, Jon is the kingpin, and we love it with bells on.

Otto & The Mutapa Calling

The rare occasion timings between events occur in town like this, is fantastic, bit like sauntering between stages at Glastonbury, without the wellies. The sporadic spoils of DOCA or Devizes Arts Festival, Long Street Blues Club or the Wharf truly are blessings to the town when they occur, but the Southgate is that dependable, regular stalwart, something Deborah and Dave should be very proud to have developed.

With such a flowing lineup, it’s never a disappointment, but I recall a day a few years past, when, with glint in her eye, landlady Deborah told me Jon Amor came in and wanted a slot; look how far we’ve come. For if the musical menu is tantalising weekly, this residency is the house special.


Errol Linton at Long Street Blues Club

In a remarkable finale to the season for Long Street Blues Club, London-based The Errol Linton Band presented Devizes with a sublime lively blues blend of delta and RnB, incorporating jazz, funk, reggae and ska too. But if the band’s proficiency in implementing this melting pot sounds erratic, the perfection was in the precision of switching through subgenres. The result was simply infectious.…..

It’s rarely mused, given the contemporary influence of Jamaica’s musical export, that prior to reggae its route lies with the removal of shortwave radio stations provided for American soldiers stationed on the island after WW2. As they disembarked Jamaica they left a blossoming sound system culture, the entrepreneurs of which set up recording studios as supply of US 45s declined.

They pulled from the influences they heard, jump blues particularly, and within these walls is the fabled Duke Reid session with Prince Buster, whereby copying the offbeat experiments of Fats Domino and Barbie Gaye, as was popular on the sound systems, and riding the shuffle beat style of T Bone Walker, a timeout was called and the guitarist ended by running the shuffle backwards, accidently creating “the ska.”

Even less widely known; initially Duke Reid wasn’t in favour of ska, but as the government promoted it for tourism as “Jamaica’s first national sound,” obviously he felt he’d lose out if he didn’t follow the trend. So, pre-ska, and even during its explosion, the Jamaican studios continued to put out as wider variety of sounds as they heard on US Radio, from blues to doowop and even country. This is a necessary backstory to capture the ethos of Errol Linton and his band, as Errol and two-thirds of the band have Jamaican heritage, are keen to emphasis this, and however subtle, everything mentioned gets a nod in their performance.

Errol is also an accomplished artist, creating portraits of his influences gives clear indication of who he is citing, the blues legends, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Louis Armstrong and beyond. Yes, the band deviated from blues, to throw down a jazzy number, to increase levels of danceable funk, and with a narrative of Howlin’ Wolf visiting Jamaica, they covered Howlin’ For my Darling with a matchless ska offbeat. Particularly diverse was an original “Country Girl,” as while maintaining one-drop reggae, the chorus verged onto a dancehall riff. It was right up my street and knocking loudly on my door, but I paused to observe the more blues aficionado regulars enjoying it equally as much as I!

For all the diversity I’ve noted, and mentioned the pleasure was in how proficiently they switched, even mid-song, this tight arrangement was best at delivering blues, and did so second-to-none. Frontman Errol gliding between vocals and harmonica, cherry-capped pianist Petar Zivkovic lightening on the keys, Lance Rose in porkpie hat, chilled on the upright double bass, perfectionist timekeeper Gary Williams on drums, and guitarist Richey Green presented the funkiest dancing show during play, the combo was spellbinding.

But none of this happened before Devizes-own Adam Woodhouse delivered the textbook support slot. Confident, despite his first outing at this blues appreciation society in which regulars will aim all eyes on you, Adam kicked off with an Elvis rendition of That’s Alright Mama, and with top-notch finger picking, continued covers with a remarkable Johnny Cash. Adam, a regular soloist at The Southgate and attendee of their celebrated Wednesday jam session, had some originals of his own, which were executed with panache.

A most memorable evening was had, in which frontman Errol reigned the moment, showing this natural ability accomplished over thirty years, since a busker of London’s streets. This is British blues at its finest, individually stylised yet heavily drawing from his roots, a perfect blend to homage his heritage, entertain and packaged in such a non-pretentious manner, you couldn’t dislike it; impossible!

An absolutely blinding night for the Long Street Blues Club, organiser Ian Hopkins’ smile said it all, as he clarified he’s been trying to book these guys for a while, and made a promise to the crowd they’d return; you need to be there when it does. The next season starts on 20th August, with anticipated return of Skinny Molly. Worth mentioning though, being we’ve discussed the early stages of Jamaican sound systems and Duke Reid’s Treasure Ilse, competitor Coxsone Dodd over at Studio One gave fame to a majority of reggae artists, yes, including Bob, and another crowned King of Rock Steady, Alton Ellis, that Alton’s son, Troy is on in Hillworth Park around about 3pm today. So, get your sandals on, unless you remain adamant nothing ever happens in Devizes!


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Saddleback Back!

In July 2019, straight after the Devizes Rugby Club’s Saddleback Festival, they announced July 11th 2020 for their next festival, but we all know the rest of that sad story. Since 2017 the club organised an annual Saddleback, named after Devizes Rugby team’s nickname, and the event quickly gained an outstanding reputation for bringing some quality acts to Devizes….

If I’m honest, being they held off during 2021, with tears from the memories of a great local all-dayer in my complimentary beer cup, I thought we’d seen the back of Saddleback. For want of repeating the same gag, coordinator Rick Kibby tells me, “We thought it was about time we brought the Saddleback Festival back!” And Saturday 18th June, 2022 marks the very day, at Devizes Rugby Club from 2pm, until late.

There was me thinking this cup was an emblem of a long lost Devizes festival!

Originally dedicated to blues, though the tag might’ve been dropped to allow more scope over the pre-lockdown years, blues is very much the mainstay, which is bound to satisfy Devizes aficionados, as local blues legends Jon Amor & King Street Turnaround, and Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue welcomingly headline; say no more.

The slightly more pop-rock acoustic, though with a definite hint of blues, Joe Hicks is also on the line-up. We love Joe here at Devizine, a true class act, prolific and generally all-round nice guy! Check out his latest offering double A-side, One More Step.

The other acts are new to me, which is all good, bit of well sourced mystery and all that. The drifting acoustic goodness of No Manz Land. Bristol’s big, stomping disco sound of Carolyn McGoldrick, retro-rock with Matt Peach, the beguiling Artic Monkey’s fashioned Public Eye, and the The Best of Ratcat, of which I’ve no info on, think of them as the wildcard!

But the real change for Saddleback is the side project, Lottiefest, as while the festival has always had a charity fundraiser base, this is the first time it has incorporated another festival in its title. “Lottiefest is in memory of Lottie,” Rick explained, “who was the daughter of one of our members who suffered from Ataxia, and the Lily Foundation raises funds for the fight against mitochondrial disease.” Lottie Rapson was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of 6, and sadly passed away aged just 27 in December last year.

“She taught us all so many things” the blurb on Saddleback Festival website reveals, “to focus on what you can do rather than worry about what you can’t, to see the good in everyone, to make the most of every day and never walk past an opportunity to do something mad!” And it goes onto explaining how much Lottie loved festivals, “often dragged to bed by her carers in the early hours of the morning.” Therefore Saddleback will be raising for The Lily Foundation and Ataxia UK.

This fitting tribute transcribes into dancing the night away in a club fashion with some carefully selected DJs, Matter, Rappo, Retrospekt, Astral Pipes, who fuse house and intelligent drum n bass into a diversity of dance music, something wholly different from anything we’ve seen at Saddleback before. A welcomed change to shake up the later hours, until 1am.

There’s camping on site, £15 for a tent, £25 for campervan.

You know, I’m so glad to see Saddleback on our event calendar again, the 2018 Battle of the Bands contest really bought to my attention the wealth of talent on our local circuit. I’d just befriended every local musician’s favourite photographer, Nick Padmore, who introduced me to George Wilding, Jamie R Hawkins, Sally Dobson, Jordan Whatley, Jack Moore and Mike Barham. Then, to have them play at the festival was the icing on the cake, really felt like I started something very worthy; they might disagree!

After that unforgettable year seems there was a little communication breakdown, Devizine was to cover the festival, but I wasn’t informed I was invited! Never mind, as now we are all informed; I’m telling you now, The Saddleback is back, and it’s going to be an amazing show right here in Devizes town!

Saddleback is on Saturday 18th June, Tickets start at £30, online here, or from

Devizes Books
Handel House
Sidmouth Street
Devizes
SN10 1LD
Tel – 01380 725944

Avon Trophies
Wharfside
Devizes
SN10 1EB
Tel – 01380 724630

The Peppermill
40 St John’s Street
Devizes
SN10 1BL
Tel – 01380 710407

Professional Books
Old Kingdom Hall
Avon Terrace
Devizes
SN10 2BH
Tel – 01380 820003


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Birdmens Play Long Street

Bird is the Word. If April has seen a surge of memorable rescheduled gigs from Devizes’ Long Street Blues Club, and I’m content and grateful our roving reporter Andy has taken the arduous task of enjoying and reviewing them, May sees the blues club return to a monthly plan of action, meaning there’s only one gig, and I’m itching to attend it myself.….

The lockdown project of a staggering who’s-who of local blues, Birdmens will play the club on Friday 6th May. The line-up of lead & rhythm guitars Ian Siegal, Jon Amor, Joel Fisk and Dave Doherty, the latter also taking percussion, bassist Rob Barry, both Bob Fridzema and Jonny Henderson on keys and Giles King taking up harmonica, this is truly a force to reckoned with, now prepare for it to be a live show, featuring Ian, Jon, Dave, Rob and Jonny.

Armed only with cheap microphones, phones and varying internet speeds, ‘Birdmens’ recorded Lockdown Loaded, an album created in bedrooms and kitchens which thrusts a genuine life-force and verve back into a scene they feel is in need. If blues is having something of a renaissance, it’s not without timeworn formulas and antique following. Akin to the Doherty’s now defunct Little Geneva, here’s a supergroup aching to reintroduce that raw and energetic edge back into blues, something sorely missed on an elder and commercialised circuit.

Defined as swampy delta blues, there’s something retrospectively authentic and underdone about it, a true ethos of blues. I’m leaving a video here for you to make your own mind up, but it’s won me over. Now everybody’s heard about the bird!


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