Onika Venus Smooths Trowbridge Town Hall

A truly wonderful night was had at Trowbridge Town Hall with soul-reggae artist Onika Venus and band….

Agreed, you may have to sift through wildly nerdy debates over Kirkby and Buscema’s cross-hatching, or season 12 of the Fourth Dr Who against season 13, but one great thing about socialising in the comics industry, unlike the mainstream music one, is level-pegging. The fact everyone gets paid peanuts no matter if you’re inking for Dark Horse or small pressing under a broken photocopier, means no snobby hierarchy, and this compares to local music circuits too, something I wrongly didn’t expect it to be like last night.

The arrogance and haughtiness of the pop star is historically documented. If I go above my station, it usually ends in disappointment, because I’m not wearing a Rolling Stone stage pass. I check ahead this weekend, because Onika Venus responded with gratitude when we reviewed her wonderful album, and on the strength of it alone, I made Trowbridge Town Hall my mecca for my evening’s intake of quality music. The message simple; make door-staff aware to allow me backstage if you would like to say hi.  

Now I’m sitting in a modest room of the Town Hall, with a slight crowd of approximately forty, rather than the grand ballroom and mass gathering I was expecting, and husband half of the duo, Mark Venus comes to thank me for the review, joking, “it’s okay, I’ve cleared your backstage pass!”

Why my assumptions? Not alone the prestigious connotations of “Trowbridge Town Hall,” but the sheer quality of Onika Venus’s album, Everything You Are. Her rich, beautiful vocals commands superiority, as if she’s pre-famed internationally, rather than the veracity; she’s upcoming, gigging together for the best part of twelve years on their local music scene around Bristol and the Forest of Dean, fans of which travelled to attend in support.

Reason enough to cry her name from the hilltops, which I intend to do, because last night was absolutely fantastic, and if everyone knows Macy Grey, Erykah Badu, or even Ariana Grande heaven help, everyone should know the music of Onika Venus.

I could ponder why until the cows come home, and conclude imminent attention aside, there’s a unique crossover with this singing duo making it tricky to pigeonhole. Husband Mark very much has the style of acoustic country or easy listening, a passionate James Taylor quality, whereas Jamaican-born Onika belts out a naturally sublime soulful voice where reggae is ascertained.

In a world where traditionally, husband and wife duos are unified in style, from Abba to Sonny & Cher, or Johnny Cash and June Carter, this blend is welcomingly unique, and I have to say, works so, so well. Critics should also take heed this little-known fact, historically as well as blues and RnB, country music bears a huge influence on the Jamaican recording industry pre the era of their homegrown radio stations, where folk would hear the sounds of US stations.

I discussed this with the pair, Mark acknowledged Onika’s mother back in JA sung country songs. In turn this also revealed, like many Jamaican musicians, music is in her blood. For while soulful, there’s nothing diva about Onika, coming across reserved and shy. Reflecting in the passion of her voice, on stage she shines like a beacon, with the joyfulness of female reggae artists of yore, particularly that of Marcia Griffiths, who always held an esteemed cheerfulness in her sound.

So, amidst this modest audience, accompanied by her husband Mark on acoustic guitar, and two other members, a percussionist on snared cocktail cajon and multi-instrumental brass player, they played out tunes from their album with a perfection spectators held in awe, then took a break.

This was not before the brilliant oddity of a comical support act, namely Big Tom, a friendly Londoner with a warming smile and penchant for original music hall. Whom covered the age-old bawdy parody of the nursey rhyme, “Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be,” where seven old ladies were locked in the lavatory. This took me back to the cockney songs my own nan would sing, and I told him so within this surprisingly communal and outgoing environment.

It also gave the opportunity, said environment, to chat with Onika and Mark, the latter suggesting his eclectic influences included mod revival and two-tone ska as well as country-rock. This came to an apex in the second half of the show, whence after playing a few more songs from the album, and introducing us to some new songs they’ve been working on for a follow-up, the four-piece burst into a lively finale of reggae classics. From Dandy Livingstone to the more obvious Toots and Marley, this medley gave the crowd the incentive to dance, making for a celebratory and memorable culmination.

But if this felt essential given Onika’s origins, it certainly wasn’t pushy, and with equal joy Onika sang the songs which blessed reggae into international recognition as she did their own compositions. Yet it is in those originally penned songs where this band all gleam, the album is a must-have. I adhere to this notion so much, I’ve a CD of said album to give away, see below.

For now, though, know this was a wonderful evening, with Sheer Music’s Kieran at his beloved control tower, Trowbridge Town Hall intends to break barriers and offer a variety of events for all in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Not forgoing, Onika and her band were astounding.

WIN A CD OF EVERYTHING YOU ARE!

So, if you want a copy of Everything you Are by Onika Venus, it’s on Bandcamp, or you could win one (if you live in the Devizes area so I can deliver it!) Please ensure you’ve liked our Facebook page, and Onika’s too. But I’m not making it that easy, you will have to give me, via Facebook comment, a great example of where country music influenced reggae, post a YouTube link to the song, and let’s get educating! Winner will be the one who picks my favourite example, by chance!


WIN 2 TICKETS HERE!

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REVIEW – Creedence Clearwater Review – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 18th September 2021

Up Around The Blues Club

By Andy Fawthrop

Well, it’d been a long old time but finally – finally! – we were back after 18 months to Long Street Blues Club, hosted by The Con Club.  The original artists for this gig had been the USA-based Billy Walton Band but, once one or two other dates on their European tour had been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, found that the tour as a whole had become unviable.  Hopefully they’ll be re-scheduled for 2022.

Which left Ian Hopkins needing to scrabble round fairly quickly in order to fill this date for tickets already sold – and what a great job he did at such short notice.  He found two very competent acts to step in, and the gig could go ahead, even if not quite as originally planned.

Kevin Brown

Support for the evening came from an old mate of mine, Kevin Brown.  He of the oil-can guitar, the blues slide guitar and, when playing on the local pub and festival circuit, Shackdusters fame.  This was his first appearance at the club, playing solo.  His laid-back, humorous, self-deprecating style quickly won over a large audience, who listened in rapt attention. Kevin writes his own material, based on his life experiences, so that the man and the music blend almost seamlessly. His JJ Cale tribute number was particularly impressive.  A very winning performance, which elicited fulsome and well-deserved applause – so let’s hope he’s invited back in the future.

The main act, Creedence Clearwater Revival arrived with a “show” – a pre-programmed set, introduced by, and intercut with documentary voice recordings by members of the original band.  Early on the band explained – if explanation it was – that their rhythm guitarist “couldn’t make it”, so they were doing the show as a trio.  An odd start, but then they got on with ticking the hits off the list – Up Around The Bend, Rocking All Over The World, Heard It Thru’ The Grapevine, Midnight Special, Because You’re Mine, As Long As I Can See The Light, Bad Moon Rising, Born On The Bayou, Proud Mary, Have You Ever Seen The Rain.  The show – delivered as two fifty-minute sets – was performed with confidence and aplomb.  By the end we had singalongs and quite a few folks up dancing at the front.

And yet. And yet…..and yet it left me rather un-moved.  I grew up with the music of CCR and John Fogerty, so I’d like to think I’m a bit of a fan of their material.  So I was surprised to find the show rather unexciting.  The band were professional and competent and captured, to some extent, the “feel” of CCR’s bayou-based sound. Yet somehow, something of the original CCR’s drive and energy was missing.  It felt a bit “CCR-by-numbers” if you get what I mean? I thought perhaps I was being a bit super-critical, so I consulted a few people whose musical opinions I respect (as well as a few whose musical opinions I don’t respect) and there seemed to be a clear consensus – it was OK: the band were good, but not great.  My own acid test on these things is – would I pay money to go and see them again?  Sadly, my answer would be in the negative.  It felt a bit one-dimensional. There wasn’t a whole lot of audience engagement.  They’d come to play a show, and they played it.  Job done. No criticism whatsoever of the great job done by Ian, but not every band can float your boat, can it?

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

  • Saturday 2nd October – Jimmy Carpenter
  • Saturday 30th October – Climax Blues Band (at Devizes Town Hall)
  • Saturday 20th November – Focus (at Devizes Corn Exchange)
  • Saturday 27th November – Antonio Forcione Quartet
  • Saturday 18th December – Kossoff: The Band Plays On
  • Friday 14th January 2022 – Chicago Blues Allstars

WIN 2 Free TICKETS HERE

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What’s Happening in September?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good September!


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Roughcut Rebels Hit Trowbridge

If I was ever to be privileged to interview Bruce Springsteen, which I doubt I would be, I’d like to ask him of his thoughts now he’s 71, of penning a song called Growin’ Up at the tender age of 23. Similarly, I’d probe Pete Townshend, only a year young than the Boss, over lyrics of My Generation, which go, “hope I die before I get old!”

Yet, despite its title, I view My Generation to be less about a specific generation, and more about the attitudes of youth, and with this in mind, it could easily be placed into any subsequent generation. The Oasis cover aside, for this opens another Pandora’s Box I’m not willing to go down (I’ve a gig to review here,) it’s fair to say, akin to any song of the “mod” genre, it’s timeless.

To believe the “mod” is wrapped in sixties nostalgia is only partly factual, London’s emerging mod-girl sweetheart, Emily Capell sports a beehive hairstyle, but often sing-raps, like Kate Nash, and collaborates with Dreadzone. Similarly, the age demographic of Devizes-based mod cover band, The Roughcut Rebels spans generations, particularly now young Finley Trusler fronts it; still, he stands, belting out a vigorous and eloquent cover of My Generation.

It’s my reasoning for trekking to Trow-Vegas, keen to finally scrub “must see Finley fronting the Roughcuts” off my to-do-list. He got the job with two gigs before lockdown, thankfully bookings are returning for the band. For through his musical journey, started in the Devizes School boy band 98 Reasons, which branched off to duo Larkin with Sam Bishop, and still works with cousin, Harvey, as the Truzzy Boys, his cool demeanour stage presence and exceptional talent has to been celebrated. Query being, how would this fair with a proficient, yet older mod cover band?

The answer; very well indeed, thanks for asking. I jested with Fin outside the pub, asked him if he had to learn the songs senior to him, and he replied “not really.” This, and their dynamic performance, of course, proved my “mod is timeless” theory. In an explosive manner and highly entertaining show, they rocked Mortimer Street’s The Greyhound, and could do the same for any given venue.

Think of the eras the term encompasses, from The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and Spencer Davis through to The Jam and Purple Hearts, onto Ocean Colour Scene, The Stone Roses, to Britpop, Oasis and Blur, and modern times like Jake Bugg’s Lightning Bolt, The Roughcut Rebels got them all covered, and, loving every minute of it, they took the slight crowd with them.

To blend A Hard Day’s Night into a set with A Town Called Malice, swiftly move onto Park Life, or The Day We Caught The Train, and return with the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie, displays their ability and keenness to incorporate and fuse epochs, and they do it with certain ease. Grant Blackman’s expert drumming and John Burn’s bass played upfront gives it oomph, while Mark Slade adds the succulent and memorable rhythms, topped by Finely’s accomplished vocals, accompanying guitar or else showy tambourine timekeeping like a young Jagger giving it Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Roughcut, huh? Yeah, they are a cut far above the average cover band on the circuit.

As for the venue, The Greyhound, I like it, in the shadow of The Pump, a long-bar town pub unexpectedly clean and tidy, with hospitable staff and drinks cheap as chips. Without so much as a blackboard, it could’ve done with promoting its live music event, as a regular told me he was unaware of it and only popped in because he heard the music. Consequently, the crowd was slight, and all-male (ladies, if you want to bag yourself a drunken Trow-Vegas native in a cheap polo shirt, this place is for you) but through the excellence of the Rebel’s music, all were up dancing.

Here’s a great local covers band which will pull in an age-spanning crowd to your pub, and spur them to spend at your bar; because there’s an anthem or ten for all generations, and it’s lively, accomplished and entertaining.


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Ronnie Scott’s in Devizes? Devizes Arts Festival Returns for November

Have you missed our wonderful annual Arts Festival, Devizions; too hungry for it to return to wait for next summer? I know I have. Never fear, Devizes Arts Festival offers an interim while we wait for 2022, under the motto, “The Show Must Go On.” Three fantastic musical events at the Corn Exchange and Town Hall over the month of November; and they’re tasty, very, very tasty.

For starters, a taster of London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is coming to Devizes on the 11th. Celebrating 60-years since the founding of one of the world’s most iconic music venues, the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take to the road to celebrate the ‘Ronnie Scott’s Story’.

Direct from London’s world-famous jazz club and combining world class live jazz alongside rare archive photos and video footage, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, take you on a guided, musical tour of this music institution. Set amongst the dive bars and jazz juke joints of London’s Soho, we hear about the desperate hand-to-mouth finances of the early years and the frequent police raids.

Hear how Ronnie’s became neutral ground within rival gang territory and their scrapes with gangsters including the Krays who were rumoured to have taken Ronnie and Pete “for a little drive”! Life at Ronnie’s is evocatively re-imagined through tales of the club’s past visitors, from pop stars, film stars and politicians to comedians and royalty, but above all, the musicians.

But that’s not all, The Arts Festival are delighted to welcome Sally Barker to Devizes, on the 13th November. In this new show ‘Sandy, Joni & Me’ she will bring some of the songs of both Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny to the stage, exploring the singer/songwriter legacy that was forged in the early ’70s.

Veteran folk-blues singer/songwriter Sally Barker became Tom Jones’ finalist on The Voice UK 2014 after reducing her mentor, and many watching the TV, to tears with her performances. Sally has toured with Sir Tom, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant amongst others. Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans said, “Sally changes the atmosphere in a room when she sings.”

And Friday 19th November is Motown Gold time at the Corn Exchange. Dust off your dancing shoes for a fabulous evening from a fantastic band. Motown Gold celebrate the finest songs from the timeless Motown and Classic Soul era, which kind of speaks for itself.

Online tickets are not yet up on the Arts Festival Website, but will be available from Devizes Books. Events are £21 for Ronnie Scott’s, £16 for Sally Barker and £18 for the Motown evening. To keep in touch with them, get onto their mailing list.

And you could look the part on the evenings, as The Show Must Go On facemask, and similar tote bags, T-shirts, badges, note books and more are available from www.theatresupportfund.co.uk which supports the NHSCovid19 Appeal, the Theatre Support Fund, the Fleabag Support Fund and Acting for Others. There’s currently 20% of all merchandise.

Devizine would like to welcome back The Devizes Arts Festival, and wish the team the very best for these great events.


Today is Bandcamp Friday, Best Day to Bag Our 4Julia’s House Compilation

As the headline suggests, it’s Bandcamp Friday, August 6, 2021, when the music platform waivers its fees, from midnight-to-midnight Pacific Time. There’s no better time to buy our awesome fundraising compilation album as an average 93% of your tenner will go to Julia’s House Children’s Hospice.

Bandcamp Friday has been operating since March of 2020, on the first Friday of every month. Bandcamp is a wonderful site, it doesn’t prioritise signed artists, but level pegs all musicians. They waivered their shares to help support the many artists who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic. You can explore Bandcamp forever, finding your favourite artists, local music, or do as I like do sometimes, and venture off for a musical journey beyond your usual haunts. You can trek to a country and find all manner of musical styles you’ve never heard before, safe in the knowledge, unlike streaming sites, it is fair trade for the artists.

Streaming sites offer a pittance of revenue share to the artist, they have to get millions of listens to make the price of sausage roll, whereas Bandcamp is a buying service, where merchandising can be added too. This is why I chose the site to launch our compilation album. Money comes straight over to us when you buy, and we’ve currently raised over £150 for Julia’s House, please help us to raise this bar.

Besides, it’s a cracking album, where if you’re in the local area, name your favourite local artist, and I there’s a high chance they’ll be on it, and I guarantee you’ll discover some new ones too. 46 full length songs of various genres, thoughtfully placed in sections according to those genres, to create a soundscape encompassing everything that’s amazing about both our local music scene, and beyond, artists we’ve featured on Devizine in the past.

In fact, I call it an album, but a “boxset” would be a more appropriate term if it was a physical product. Unfortunately, it is only as a download, as to make it an album would take over 5 CDS, and the expense of producing a product is too much to risk taking any profits made for the charity. I would be keen to hear from a business willing to sponsor the production of a small run of CDs, but as it is, download it is. There’s a good thing with download, your purchase is stored in a cloud, so you’ll never lose it as you have unlimited downloads of it. You can transfer it from one devise to another, you could burn it onto your own CD, if you wished.

It will never fail to amaze me, just how many musicians rallied to donate a song to this project, and I’m forever grateful to them all. Artists you should branch out to, and buy some of their albums and singles, as I’ve handpicked these fantastic people, so you can be rest-assured of their quality and talent.

For detailed track listing click here, but here’s the lowdown of who you’ll be hearing on this musical journey of over three hours, in order of appearence: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Wilding, Barrelhouse, Richard Davies & The Dissidents, Tom Harris, Will Lawton – Evanescence, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Nigel G. Lowndes, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, Barmy Park, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, Cosmic Shuffling, Blondie & Ska,The Birth of Bonoyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Meru Michael, Cutsmith, The Tremor Tones, Big Ship Alliance, Feat Johnny2Bad, Robbie Levi & Stones, Urban Lions, Neonian, First Born Losers.


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…


OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

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

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

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

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

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

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

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

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


Click for info on Julia’s House

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

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

Countin the Blues, Punkishly, with Elli de Mon

Well, that certainly took the serrated edge off Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. Imagine an episode where you are Doctor Who. You’ve landed the Tardis nearby a juke joint, deep in 1920s Mississippi. A bunch of wild railroad convicts won’t let you out unless your assistant plays them some songs. Trouble is, your assistant is Siouxsie Sioux. You pray to the timelords of Gallifrey she won’t corrupt continuity, by introducing punk fifty years too early. Just when you think she might have found middle-ground, Ravi Shanker drops in to join the jam!

The score could be provided by Italian multi-instrumentalist and soloist Elli De Mon, who’s forthcoming album, out 18th June, Countin the Blues is packaged like a delta blues album of yore; sepia photo of Elli, guitar between legs, and graphics to match. It weighs in well with sound too, a twangy guitar opening, but it jerks between tradition and modern. Reimaging ten female vocalist, vintage blues rarities from the 1920s, Countin the Blues varies between adhering to the original, or converting it into kick-ass contemporary punk. This works, exceptionally well under the skilled labour of Elli, primarily because those songs are as raw and filthy as punk could be or has ever been.

This album should put Elli de Mon on the UK map, as she’s been thrilling blues audiences across Europe with this unique take on the blues for best part of decade. A prolific one-woman-band, releasing six albums since 2014, she breezes through vox, rezophonic and lapsteel guitars, organ, drums, dilruba, and even an outplaced sitar, on this magnificent album.

Primordial blues being a major influence, during pregnancy Elli penned, Countin’ The Blues: Indomitable Women, a book about the women blues artists of the twenties. Published in 2020, it must’ve been a natural progression for her to decide to record the songs she wrote of, in tribute to these great women. It’s a win-win for documentation of songs which has been forgotten by most. The only tune I’d heard of was Memphis Minni’s When The Levee Breaks, as many would know it from the Led Zeppelin adaptation.

Kicking in, as I said, twangy guitar introduces us, but seconds later Elli’s version Ma Rainey’s Prove It On Me Blues electrifies. One could shrug at this conjunction, pop-punk has the T-shirt on this, if Alanis Morissette coined it, Sheryl Crow and Shania Twain commercialised it. Yet there’s a definite rawness here, a dusky garage punk nod. This notion drags you in, darkened by the second track, Bessie Smith’s Blue Spirit Blues; eloquently macabre, and the theme continues for a further two tunes until Lucille Bogan’s Shave ‘Em Dry pounces on you like a seventies punk anthem.

Proving drugs and music went hand-in-hand since day dot, the overlooked iconoclast Victoria Spivey recorded Dope Head Blues in 1928, yet Elli implements a beatnik lysergic aura to it, by adding a sitar; hence the Ravi Shanker connection mentioned in my Doctor Who visualisation!

Just when you consider reeling in your assistant Siouxsie Sioux, with your extended scarf (because Dr Who will eternally be Tom Baker in any of my imaginary scenarios) dragging her to the crossroads in hope the devil, or Davros even, is up for purchasing a soul, we’re back on the agenda, less Sgt Pepper, and more traditioned twangy acoustic guitar blues is aired now more than previous songs.

Image by S. Carollo

With the sublime acoustics of Elizabeth Cotten’s Freight Train, it feels as if Elli figured it had all gone too far the other way, and returned her salutes the queens of the blues by traditional method.  This acoustic trend continues for four amazing tunes, ingulfing the aforementioned When The Levee Breaks. In my scenario Doctor Who would be effectively saved, these last few tunes would adhere to the angry railroad convicts’ expectations. But just as you assume the cliché happy ending is near, there’s a vinyl only bonus track, Geeshie Wiley’s Last Kind Words Blues, which slivers back into psychedelia sitar, and the Doctor is doomed, to be continued next week!

This album is a treasure, if not for the tremendous tributes to historical blues standards, or the adaptions of unearthed rarities returned to modern times through punk rock, but for the overwhelming effort of this Italian multi-skilled virtuoso who accompanied herself on nearly every instrument, and arranged the whole album in a new key, to align to her personal punkish style.

And Elli, if you read this, I wonder, and I’d imagine you do too, what the mother of the blues, Ma Rainey and the other subjects you’ve so wonderfully recaptured here would think of it all? It may well take some time for them to get their head around music’s progression, but I’m certain you should be proud as they’d nod their approval.


Song of the Day 37: Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse

At least I think it’s number 37, sorta spaced on the song of the day for a while there.

So what better time to reintroduce this quick feature where I generally waffle some crap and share a music video then when our friends Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse knock out an awesomely catchy rock n roll belter like this one?

Any objections and I’m not listening to ya, look; it’s even got a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clip of them at our lovely Cellar Bar; nice!

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


Song of the Day 35: The Jamestown Brothers

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

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

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

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

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


Song of the Day 34: Jon Amor

Here’s a thing, did you know the Michael and Janet Jackson duet “Scream,” is cited as the world’s most expensive music video, totaling a cost of $7 million? And Wacko dished the cash out of his own pocket?

Despite critical acclaim at the time, reaching number 3 in the UK pop charts, and the retaliatory nature of the song against the tabloid assault on Michael after sexual abuse accusations, I thought, and always will think, it was a bit shit, to be perfectly frank!

Look, I mean, okay, bit harsh were the allegations, so MJ thinks, I know, I’ll bag myself a B-movie spaceship, take my sister off the planet, buy us both matching knobbly jumpers, dance about in zero g, and cough up seven million dollars for someone to film it, that’ll convince the fans I’m not a complete fruitcake.

They didn’t even save enough pennies to get it filmed in technicolor. Input sad face emoji.

Compare and contrast to Devizes-own Jon Amor, who, with just the creativity of Lucianne Worthy, a big chunk of inspiration from Jim Henson and some snazzy blue loafers, pulls off this absolute beauty for the track Rider from the latest album Remote Control.

Smashed it, guys, and it’s in colour too. Proof you don’t gotta do a Wacko Jacko and push the boat out as far as Mars to accomplish something all together entertaining.

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


The Ruzz Guitar Sessions; Going to the City

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

Musically, blues is apt.

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

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

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

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

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


Make Headway for Ariel Posen

Try this: think of some tunes of the decade you were born, songs which you like but don’t know why, songs which, for some reason, ring alarm bells at you as characteristic of the era. Your taste screams no, you shouldn’t like these, but you do. Then check the year they charted. I wager many of them were in the year you were born, the previous or following.

I remember liking, at the time, and I’m not proud but in the name of science I’m going to confess, Brotherhood of Man’s Save All Your Kisses for Me! Oh, while we’re there, Abba’s Dancing Queen too! Thing is, I know why. They were in the charts in 1976, when I was three, the sort of excruciating pop mush anthems a toddler graduates to after the Wheels on the Bus. However, I cannot put my finger on why I’m engrossed with glam rock songs, such as Gary Glitter’s I’m the Leader of the Gang, The Sweet’s Blockbuster and Slade’s Cum Feel the Noise, when the genre makes me generally quiver.

Any doubt I was born in the 70s cleared up with this family photo; I’m the baby!

Why flower-power sold out and hippies took to wearing kipper ties and platform shoes with goldfish in the heel is beyond my understanding of youth culture vicissitudes. Still, when I hear the aforementioned glam rock screeches, they stir something vague inside, indications of a life obscured by cognition. Coincidence they all charted in 1973, the year I was born? Or could the sounds around you, as a baby, implant permanent scars?! If so, I’ll be dammed, deeply archived Little Jimmy Osmond’s Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool!

Though you should never condemn an entire decade for its pop chart. Given you’ll throw Sonia, Jason & Kylie, even Blacklace at me, and tell me to shaddup my face. Despite the lack of technological advances of the seventies when compared with the eighties, there was numerous classics. I’m drawn to the cherished saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, but surprised to note, it broke my theory and wasn’t until ‘78.

The research was stirred by Canadian singer-songwriter, Ariel Posen’s forthcoming album, ‘Headway,’ released on 5th March. Oh, yeah, I am coming to an eventual music review, excuse my waffle. There’s something retrospectively seventies about it, my mind sees a Ronco record label revolving on the turntable of a seventy’s mahogany music centre. A quick flick through the tracks suggested motives not to like this are manyfold. Yet, akin to why I cannot put my finger on why I like those glam tunes of my birth year, I’m finding it tricky to reason with this too, but I do like it, a lot.

With magnificent guitar riffs which nods subtly to country and heartland rock & roll, combined with smooth, blue-eyed soul vocals, there’s something very Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, or Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever about this potential electrified Americana rock classic.

The harmonious and tenderly sensual soul of Coming Back, against the folksy- blues guitar picking of the single Heart by Heart suggests there’s a vast melting pot, but Posen meticulously stirs it into one seriously chilled groove, David Soul styled, which will leave you causally drifting through till the end. Hence my reasons for pondering my little science experiment while listening. Again, comparisons to seventies music, here’s an album to listen to complete, afar from youthful trend of flicking through Spotify playlists like time is against them.

Upon first impressions I was dubious about a Springsteen comparison, contemplating the subjects are generally of romance, and perhaps simpler than the Boss’s interweaved wordplay, yet again humbler Beatles’ pop formulas clearly influence it greatly too. Harder listening conjured a progressive prose of evolution in life, love, and all points in between. They’re poignant and beguiling, combined, you just have to dive a little deeper.

Two years in production, Posen began recording Headway in December 2019, a week after wrapping up an international tour in support of his acclaimed debut, How Long; the effort shows. The gigs received standing ovations, and Rolling Stone dubbed him “a modern-day guitar hero.” Music Radar listed him as a fan voted top 10 rock guitarist of the year, and the Western Canadian Music Awards nominated him for Breakout Artist of the Year.

So, yeah, this is worthy of your attention, and if I attempt to lambast the seventies again, remind me of the current sate of my lockdown coiffure; I’ve got the big hair of a middle-aged Caucasian from 1976. I’m going out on my Raleigh Chopper now, mum, call me when my mince in gravy is ready!

Artic Roll for pudding? Hunky dory!

Pre-order Headway HERE


Trending….

Song of the Day 28: Kevin Brown

Launched today, ‘Square Peg in a Round Hole.’ How’s that for efficiency? I know, I’m not usually this quick off the mark, must be something in the water!

But yeah, but no, though; you’ve got to hear this beauty of blues-folk from Kevin Brown, it’ll take you away with it, and we all need to get away; who’s been living in their Jimmy-jams for months?!

A song inspired by, Kevin explains, “people living on the edges of society, in and around Bath in the mid 80’s… people who don’t quite fit in.”

We’ve chosen some stunning photographs by Steven A Chandler for the montage – they really capture the mood of the track.” And emotive it is. I’ll use the term emotive rather than ‘moody,’ if you don’t mind, Kevin, as it has a subtle uplifting hint, and it’s simply gorgeous.

Subscribe to the man’s YouTube channel, here. I’ve stressed this before, and reinforcing it by subscribing to as many as I find. It’s crucial for all musical artists that you do, gives them possible revenue, if they get to a certain amount of subscribers, but they do a LOT of them to get there. Whereas, a “YouTuber” podcasting a hoard of bling and clothes, or playing Minecraft while chatting nonsense, can elevate to stardom in a matter of milliseconds. Such is the way of modern life.

Anyhoo, that’s my song for the day, very good, carry on…


Ain’t Nobody’s Business but Ruzz Guitar and Pete Gage’s

I’ve said it before, said lots of what I’m going to say before, in fact, but I reserve the right to say it again. And you can’t blame me, it’s this Groundhog Day thing, this exasperating lockdown. I perpetually revert my mind back to the last night of live music I attended, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue at Devizes Sports Club with Peter Gage, Jon Amor and Innes Sibun. How I suspected walls could come crashing down, but didn’t want accept it, neither at the time acknowledge it would be so soon. Still, optimistically, what a blinding night; least we went out with a bang.

I mean, I know and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who acted to do what they could immediately after the first lockdown, the afternoon sessions at the Southgate, and our own outing for Devizes;IndieDay, but as good as they were, as Ray Charles said, the night time is the right time. Ode to the gig, the gathering and the celebration, how we miss it so. Are you with me? You are, right?

Faced with the unwelcome likelihood of the first anniversary of the occasion coming around and still, no live music, I have to ponder how far to the light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. And to rub salt into the wound, Ruzz has released a new track, featuring the very same blues legend Peter Gage! But as far as salt goes, upon hearing this tune I’m like a halophile (a salt-loving organism; look it up, people) living on the back of a saltwater crocodile, basking at the shore of the Dead Sea.

A cover of Jimmy Witherspoon’s tune Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Ruzz explains, “we’ve taken the B.B. King and Freddie King versions, mashed them together and added an RGBR flavour into the mix! We’ve been working hard on this track since Christmas and we’re all very excited to release it.”

And so, they should be, it’s sublime, as ever. Habitually, I favour Ruzz and the Blues Revue when they work up a frenzy, but this is smooth, this is blues, the kind of blues you need contemplating the anniversary of the gig ban, and if you attended, it will remind you of it too. If not, it doesn’t matter, it just breezes over you, as all virtuous blues should.

I mean, right, the guy was from The Sloane Squares, headhunted by Shadows bassist Jet Harris upon them supporting Hendrix, and that’s just the beginning of his extensive profession. Pete’s proficient vocals, gives it that edge of aforementioned BB King influence, the arrangement and tightness of this collaboration are like the chimes of seamless bellringing, here’s the Blues Revue on top form, adding guests of calibre and concluding as perfection; quid well spent.


Latest Reads….

Gull Able

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

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

On Social and Political Matters……

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

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

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

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

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

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

January

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

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

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

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

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

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

February

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

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


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March


On Music……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May