Rock n Roll Lives; in Melksham!

Found myself in the Sham last night, hail hailing rock n roll at the Assembly Hall, something I’ve been meaning to witness for ages; and I’m pleased to report, they do it with bells on……

Passing through Swindon’s GWR works prior to the Steam Museum, I perchance to natter to an aged engineer prepping a locomotive for display. He frustrated his vocation was fading, and with no apprenticeship, the knowledge would be a lost trade. Art is different from a trade; it lives beyond the creators’ years naturally; it is only hope it inspires enough to attract devotees from future generations.

Creative types rarely contemplate this, tending to live for the moment. Rock n Roll was perhaps the first youth culture to transcend social and political barriers into mainstream. Generations of segregation had worn-out the connection of railroad slaves, mimicking four-beat folk of their masters, and white youths of the 1950s reunited it by blending blues into country, much to the outrage of traditionists. But would those early, wide-eyed rock n rollers have stopped to consider seventy years later their voices would still be ringing out, their fashion would be epitomised and their dances displayed with such enthusiasm, in a market town hall in South-West England?!

Geoff and his wife proudly sit on the door of the Melksham Assembly Hall and welcome me. They have been the backbone of The Melksham Rock N Roll Club since its formation, twenty years ago. Recently two clubs opened in Bristol, he expressed, but prior he’s had free reign of the niche market for a few years. Coupled with winter’s chill and the resistance to head back out post-lockdown, he shrugs, unruffled attendance is slightly down. I pulled up a chair for a chat of all things Buddy Holly to Shakin’ Stevens, then popped inside to see for myself.

Despite his reservations and taking into account the hall is wonderfully spacious, it feels suitably packed in there, if this is an evening of lesser ticket sales it certainly doesn’t show. Devotees of rock n roll have come from afar to attend; Geoff cites members trek from Bristol, and even as far as Essex.

The closest we have here in the ‘Vizes is the Long Street Blues Club, which while spectacular can be a library-like appreciation society; I was shushed in there while thanking Ian for inviting me! Here appreciation is displayed rather differently, events aptly referred to as “dances,” while hold factors akin to many clubs, a live band, DJ and a raffle, the most astounding part was the dancing. There was no way I dare step onto that dancefloor to be showed up, as matured and authentically attired regulars would put upcoming generations to shame with their astounding moves! Trade in your gym membership, come here instead for a rock n roll workout!

With poodle skirts whirling around refined gents in double-breasted Chesterfields and winklepickers, it’s an impressive spectacle. I was interested to observe the age demographic, concerned, like the steam engineer, for his disappearing trade. I’d spoken to Geoff about diversity, for what is considered “rock n roll” is altered by later age-groups, through Zeppelin to punk. But acceptance of progression felt like a no-go zone; this was traditional, fifties fashioned rock n roll, like it or lump it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the band, hailing from various locations from Hungerford to the Cotswolds, this five-piece ensemble called Haney’s Big House had the classic arrangement; bona-fide frontman on lead, bassist, drummer, harmonica and an outstanding upright double-bass player. It proficiently spelled rock n roll to me, they played their own awesome compositions, and relished in covering Bill Haley and Chuck Berry, to name a few. Yet conversing outside, nick-picking gossip circulated it was too blues, whilst others suggested too rockabilly.

True, but the band don’t hide this blues influence on their own website, and inside the crowd danced on seemingly unconcerned. I huffed at a minority of grouches, they revelled in nights of yore through rose-tinted specs, when unfortunately, that era has passed. Haney’s Big House made for an excellent evening, seemed to love the spotlight and were a perfect match for a rock n roll club.

Akin to the contemporary scooter scene, subgenres have to merge back into one another in hope of survival, as Northern Soul mods meet ska-led skinheads, so rockabilly, RnB and blues should be accepted as fair game by fundamentalist rock n rollers, otherwise the scene risks fragmentation over time.

A heartfelt concern, because I’m with Joan Jett, loving rock n roll, put it every time on the jukebox baby; I grew up listening to Elvis, Buddy et al, via parents. There’s nothing like the authenticity of original rock n roll, with an epoch to match, The Melksham Rock N Roll Club is an institution upholding this ethos and they do so with matchless effort.

It was a brilliant evening of beguiling retrospection and long may it continue for another twenty years plus. My demographic observations came up trumps, while a palpable majority were retirement age diehards, a sprinkling was younger, equally excited about the scene. Though that number has to be upped, so I urge anyone affectionate of old timey rock n roll, try this affordable club for size; it’s reelin’ and a rockin’ to the point age is just a number, folk of all ages twirling the night away; absolutely wonderful!

Next dance is Saturday 26th February with Jive Street….

Stay updated via their Facebook page.


Check out other forthcoming events at Melksham Assembly Hall Here, from Abba and Carpenters tributes to Madness and Led Zeppelin…and erm, “ladies” nights!


Trending……

Devizine Review of 2021; Marginally Better than 2020!

If we recently reviewed Ian Diddams and friends meeting at the Vaults for their annual festive Jackanory, the first article of 2021 was the very same funny fellow reciting his yarn as a live stream from his mocked garden grotto, and in that, surely displays how far we’ve come from the restrictions of lockdown we entered the year with. Though not without the same notion as last Christmas looming over us, like a dirty black shroud, that it was, perhaps, all too soon, and we’ve not seen the backside of the Covid19 yet.

Summarising, 2021 was marginally better than 2020; there were gung-ho moments of throwing caution to the wind, and there were others to make us stop and ponder the consequences of our actions. There’s little doubt the world will never be the same for decades to come; social interaction, shopping, even work practises; but we did get to party on occasions, and when it was good, it was really good.

And if it ended with a Boxing Day brawl, I suspect some wished for the bash-a-sab fest. Even police it seems, who would likely send in The Wealdstone Raider to crowd control a Wealdstone V Whitehawk FC game, if given the assignment. Did I predict this when I said “make no mistake, there’s a civil war under our noses, which comes to an apex when blood-thirsty predators triumphantly parade their wrongdoing on a day when most of us struggle out of bed to reach the fridge?”

Hardly crystal ball stuff, tensions at their highest for rural Wiltshire’s most contradictory dispute, it was on the cards since day dot; when the county voted in a foxhunting Police Crime Commissioner, whose misadventures in drink driving caused him to pull out at a cost of millions to the taxpayer. A calamity most shrugged off with “oh, ha-ha, those naughty Tories, bless ‘em.”


Allowed Out to Play

It was May before I set foot in a pub, lockdown eased and live music was back on the agenda, albeit with hefty restrictions; early ending times, remain seated, table service, no mingling outside of “bubbles,” and deffo no dancing or singing. It felt awkward to begin with, not quite the same, but it was a start, and who better to kick off proceedings than the brilliant Daybreakers, gracing the trusty Southgate? One could sense the joy from Cath, Gouldy et al, to be singing to an audience once again, proving their dedication to the cause. A handclap emoji just isn’t the same.

For a while then The Southgate remained the only venue in Devizes providing live music, and we thank Deborah, Dave and all staff for working within the rules to create a safe space to be blessed with music; it was like they were on roller-skates at times, up and down the beer garden, ensuring not a mouth was left dry!  

I also ventured out to the Barge at Honeystreet, to see how they were coping with the boundaries too. And what a show The Boot Hill All Stars put on there, under a spacious marquee, so tempting to get up and dance, but couldn’t; mastered foot-tapping though.

The return to some normality for many in Devizes came in clement early June, when Devizes Lions held a fantastic car show, plus, on the Green. With side stalls aplenty, nervously folk began to socially distanced mingle; it was a breath of fresh air and a testament to what can be safely achieved with forward thinking and dedication.

Image by Nick Padmore

By July I made it out a few times, the idea of Vince Bell teaming with the individual performers of The Lost Trades, Phil, Jamie and Tamsin was too much of an irresistible hoedown of local talent to miss, and a third trip to the trusty Southgate to tick TwoManTing off my must-do list also proved to be a memorable evening.

The beginning of August I ventured to TrowVegas to tick another off said list, catching those Roughcut Rebels with new frontman Finley Trusler. They blasted the Greyhound, and didn’t disappoint. The month shifted gear for many, and things simply blossomed like there never was a lockdown. Back-to-back weekends saw both my favourite largescale of 2021, the single-most amazing festival near Marlborough; MantonFest is a real gem, professionally done with a real communal atmosphere, the type perpetual drizzle couldn’t put a downer on. This event wowed.

Back in Devizes, the events of the year were the weekend which followed, sitting nicely between a stripped back version of DOCA’s International Street Festival sprinkled across town, was of course, The Full Tone Festival. Without the refreshing emergence of folk out of lockdown, this would have still been something for the town’s history books, but being as it was, the opportunity to head back out and enjoy life once again, the timing, the best weather, the whole ambience was electric. The time and work gone into pulling this off was absolutely outstanding, and for which folk of Devizes will forever mark it as a celebration of post lockdown.

Awakenings even drew Andy out of hiding by September, and I was overjoyed to have him back on the team, without putting his bag and coat on the hook, he went out to play, reviewing Devizes Musical Theatre’s Gallery of Rogues, and Devizes Town Band’s Proms in Hillworth Park. Meanwhile I was delighted to see The Wharf Theatre reopen with a fantastic performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.

September also saw the welcome return of Devizes Comedy at the Corn Exchange, and The Long Street Blues Club, who, kicking off with Creedence Clearwater Review, wasted no time catching up with their rescheduled programme of the most excellent blues nights money can buy. Andy covered these, while I ventured to see Kieran J Moore’s new digs at Trowbridge Town Hall. After a brilliant street art exhibit from Tom Miller, I went to taste the music there, with a most memorable evening from Onika Venus. I returned to the scene in November, for a great gig from Ålesund with support from Agata.

Other than a trip to the White Horse Opera and Southgate to see Jon Amor’s King Street Turnaround, Andy pitched a tent at Long Street Blues Club, one time shipped out to the Corn Exchange in late November for Focus, which Andy crowned best gig of the year. I made it out to the Cross Keys in Rowde for The Life of Brian Band, and to the Southgate see Strange Folk again, since their fantastic set on Vinyl Realm’s stage at a Street Festival of yore. But October held my best gig of the year, the reasons manyfold, and I’m lay them on the line….

For the outstanding fundraising efforts of the Civic award-winning local supergroup, The Female of the Species, I hold them all up as my heroines, therefore the chance to see them again at Melksham’s fantastic Assembly Hall too much to miss, and the fact they’d chosen this time to raise funds for another of my local heroines, Carmela Chillery-Watson, was almost too much to take! With an electric night of awesome danceable covers and a massive raffle, they raised a staggering £1,763 for Carmela’s Therapy Fund.

It will never cease to amaze me the selfless lengths our musicians will go to for fundraising. Even after a year and half of closed hospitality and no bread-and-butter gigs, they continue to offer their precious time to help. While events blossomed late this year, and November saw the return of TITCO, and Devizes Arts Festival added a spellbinding mini-autumn-festival with Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Sally Barker and Motown Gold, Devizine continued also to preview events and do what we had being doing to find content during lockdown. Yeah, we rattled some cages with social and political opinion pieces, tasted some great takeaway tucker, and we reviewed recorded music further afield as well as local, but we had a number of feelgood stories, most memorable being things like our snowman competition in January, but there was a project which highlighted the sterling effort from musicians to fundraise, and it will be something I’ll never forget.

Image: Gail Foster

So, in April I announced we would be putting together a compilation album, fundraising for Julia’s House Children’s Hospices and by late June it was a thing. It was hard work to put together, but I’m astounded by the plethora of great bands and artists who took the time to send us a tune for inclusion. Knowing time was precious for artists popping out of lockdown, in need to source bookings and rehearse, I only asked them to provide us with an existing tune to prompt their albums, but some went beyond this, giving us exclusive outtakes such as the brilliant Richard Davis & the Dissidents, or some even recorded new songs, like Blondie & Ska, Tom Harris and Neonian.

I picked a staggering forty-six tracks to bind together, to create a boxset so humongous it would need far too many CDs to make it actual, so due to this and the expense of outlaying, it exists as a download on Bandcamp. Think of it as a teaser for the many great acts we’ve supported and reviewed over the years, and for a tenner, it works out under 5p a tune.

For me this was a momentous achievement, and can’t thank them enough. While I’ve put it out to the right places, to the Gazette & Herald and Fantasy, and airtime on West Wilts Radio’s fantastic Sounds of Wilderness Show, there is obviously more I need to do to get the message out there, as sales have been slow, unfortunately.

I could fathom a number of reasons for this, but in all, we’ve raised approximately £177 for Julia’s House, hoping to reach a £200 target before we send them the money, still sales have waivered off so significantly I feel I need to send what we’ve had so far. Please help us to up the total if you’ve not already bought this fantastic album. Gloom aside I will say I’m planning a second volume, and already have a few contributions from incredible acts such as Nick Harper, Onika Venus and Catfish.

Returning to events for the last part of the year, While Andy fondly reviewed Focus, I popped into the Corn Exchange for a quick interview with The Lost Trades, and left to attend a great art show at the Shambles. That weekend the Full-Tone Orchestra played Swindon’s Wyvern, and I’m grateful to Ian Diddams for his review. This is what we need, people, we cannot cover everything, but if you’ve a few words to say about an event or anything local, please, help to make Devizine a comprehensive community, erm, thing!

Of course, one delightful addition to our team TD Rose has been submitting some lovey features, firstly of ramblings, and more recently she made friends with Wiltshire Museum, and reviewed DOCA’s Winter Festival. Thank you so much Tyg, I’ve yet to meet, but we need to arrange this for the new year.

Image: Chris Dunn

Towards the end of November Andy remained seated at Long Street, I did the rum bar thing. Such a refreshing addition to Devizes, The Muck & Dundar pulled off a blinder with Bristol DJs, The Allergies. This was one smooth funky night, best for an age, and it was great to shake my greying tailfeathers. Both Andy and I finished off the year with a Boot Hill bash at the Southgate, where hip hop misfits Monkey Bizzle supported, and was shocked by Andy’s positive reaction, being more my cup of cheddar, this was an awesome night too!

Kossoff played Long Street, Andy also went to White Horse Opera’s Winter Concert and other than the hugely successful Tractor & Tinsel Run, we’re back to where we started with an Ian Diddams’ spoken word showdown the Vaults!


On Stats and Boring Stuff

Our Annual Stats Doubled from Last Year!

Having live music back, no matter the limitations was a breath of fresh air. Prior to it I was still scrambling around in the dark as I was in 2020, hunting for something to write about. But I guess a year of lockdown had given me time to contemplate and improve on the content. This boosted the stats, for if 2020 saw a drop in readership, I hoped to better it, and I’m pleased to announce we had a record amount, well over doubling the figures of 2020. This is awesome news, and I thank everyone for keeping the faith in us, and continuing to support Devizine.

I keep looking at the bar graph of stats, not believing the skyscraper which is 2021. How much we’ve grown, become a “thing” now. It’s fantastic and I hope we will continue to entertain you. I must stress though, we don’t harass you to subscribe or any rubbish like this, we keep advertising to a minimum, and nothing should pop up and distract your reading, and we uphold the ethos features should be free to the end user.

Yet we do need to maintain some budget to keep the site going. That’s currently around £60 a year; we fund our own beer money, thank you, we’re not MPs, we have no expense forms! So please consider donating to keep Devizine afloat, please donate when sending us an advert, unless it is fundraising. I’d really like to build up a small fund to get some charity events off the ground, as I believe the artists should be paid for their time considering their predicament too. So, anything extra will go towards this, and promoting the Julia’s House album.

What can we expect from Devizine in 2022, you might ask; well, if it’s not broken……let’s happily bash on shall we?! Thank you all so much for your support over 2021, the stats show we’re heading in the right direction.


On Food

Said this before, but I take pride in repeating myself; food reviews get an enormous response, yet still eateries seem reluctant to come forward. A food review here will do wonders for your sales, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a greedy so-and-so. Places we’ve eaten out or takeaways we’ve had which failed to live up to our expectations have not been mentioned. I’m no Gordon Ramsey and I’m not about to publish a slagging off. I’d rather tell you to your face why I’m not reviewing it!

During lockdowns the takeaway became essential part of a weekend treat for families with nought else to do, and new establishments opened, while pre-existing ones flourished. In January we praised the Massimos’ Pizza, and the following month saw me queuing halfway down a frozzled Nursteed Road for a rather tasty Greek Gyro from the Cosy Kitchen mobile van; such was the popularity of these mobile units during the bleakest of times.

When things begun to open up in April I went for my first vaccination jab, where they told me not to drive for fifteen minutes. They didn’t say go find a new Indian lunchtime takeaway in the Brittox, but we did, and long should Naan Guru live on!

Not much further into the same month, I tracked down The Feisty Fish, a fish n chips van like no other. They don’t come into town being there’s chip shops here, but track these guys down for the single best gourmet fish n chips you will ever taste, I tell no lie!

June saw a second IndieDay, organised by InDevizes, and prompted people to get out and shop with a bustling farmer’s market, in which I discovered the rosy cheeked benefits of Lavington’s Rutts Lane Cider, and merrily made my way home on the bus! I also had to mention, unsurprisingly to those who know me, that month, that Plank’s Dairies introduced a new locally-sourced organic milk, yogurt and juice range, in sizable and reusable glass bottles, which has proved hugely popular.

Naturally, without a main stage this year, there was a greater interest in the food market at The Devizes Street Festival in August, and the following month we mentioned Devizes Food & Drink Festival’s Market, where I was reunited with Rutts!

It was July when we discovered Thai-day Friday, and that was just delicious!

Mildly amusing than most, I offered a Battle of the Best Devizes Breakfast, in November, something we need to follow up on when the kids are back in school, as Round One, The Condado Lounge Vs New Society was a popular post. I bloomin’ love food, me, y’know, invite me to your café, pub or restaurant and I’ll give you my honest opinion, except I don’t do eggs or liquorice; yuck!


On Music

If I’ve already mentioned our awesome 4 Julia’s House project, and all the artists who contributed are in my good books, we also covered a whole heap of new releases. Plus, we started a Song of the Day, where we post a YouTube link for your pleasure, and generally don’t say much else about it, rather waffle on a tangent! But mostly recorded sound reviews waned when live music reopened, still we strive to continue telling you what we like.

Will Lawton

Will Lawton proposed to open a music school, JMW held a lockdown festival in support of musicians, Wiltshire Council asked Gecko for a Road Crossing song and video, and Wiltshire Rural Music’s announced producing live steams from Trowbridge Town Hall.

Kirsty Clinch announced her music school and book plans, and covered Swindon’s sound system Mid Life Krisis’s live streams. We chatted to The Scribes, announced The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch, and The Ruzz Guitar Sessions, and Asa Murphy returning to Devizes.

We announced Sheer’s Salem gig, the Dear John Concert Album for War Child, and the bid to help Calne Central. Announced Sheer’s Frank Turner gig at the Cheese & Grain, chatted to Blondie & Ska. Announced Wharf Theatre’s Youth Theatre, Pound Arts Blue Sky Festival, My Dad’s Bigger than Your Dad Festival in tribute to Dave Young. This list goes on, but most enjoyable recently, meeting up with Visual Arts Radio who moved from Frome to Devizes.

We reviewed Terry Edwards Best of Box Set, Ain’t Nobody’s Business by Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue and Pete Gage, Skates & Wagons, Kirsty Clinch, Small Town Tigers, Django Django, Chole Glover, Araluen and Ariel Posen. Trowbridge DJ and producer Neonian, The Direct Hits, Andy J Williams, Erin Bardwell, Nigel G Lowndes, Mike Clerk, Cutsmith, Timid Deer, and Cult Figures.

Horses of the Gods, Lone Ark & The 18th Parallel, Longcoats, Black Market Dub and The Lost Trades.

Brainiac 5, Sitting Tenants, Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory, Sam Bishop, Longcoats, The Bakeseys and Elli de Mon.

Liddington Hill, Boom Boom Racoon, Longcoats, Girls Go Ska and Daisy Chapman.

Monkey Bizzle, Webb, The Hawks, Captain Accident & The Disasters, Onika Venus, Death of Guitar Pop, The Burner Band, Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, and Scott Lavene.

Spearmint, Captain Rico & The Ghost Band, Sonny Vincent, Freya Beer, Near Jazz Experience, Beans on Toast, Old Habits, and most recently, Paul Lappin! That enough for you?! 


On the Social and Political Side

The fate of every nation depended on how their governments dealt with the pandemic, and how the public responded to them. I’m not here to dwell on international or even national politics, for this is a review of Devizine, what I define loosely as “an entertainment news and events guide,” for the locality of Wiltshire, focussing particularly on our base, Devizes. Yet tenaciously it is linked, undeniably affecting limitations to what we could and couldn’t do. By the very appalling national statistics, despite rolling out vaccinations like no other country, it revealed true horrors of conflicting government decisions, their general disrespect and selfishness for the public they’re supposed to serve, and the public’s reaction to them.

Like a blind vacuum, sucking in every government blame game, it never ceases to amaze me keyboard warriors on social media turning culpability onto mainstream media, when their task is purely to report news, and capture the mood of the nation. The mainstream media is ruled by the elite, funding the government, they’re in bed together, literally. To publicise shortage of goods is informing of a potential issue, they didn’t enforce panic buying, the public did; chicken and egg. Equally, to publish mood change in the majority lost faith in government, is because there’s a mood change; we’ve lost faith in government.

I’m not here to say I told you so; I’ve not lost faith in this government, I had none to start with!

Take the last set of pandemic announcements, made only hours after government-controlled media broke news of Downing Street Christmas parties, best part of twelve months earlier. A day where the public felt betrayed, even those who voted for Bojo and his cronies held their heads in shame and had to confess it was all too much for a government to break rulings it set itself, and party on while the public suffered, and died. The mood was understandably bleak; why should we do what they say when they clearly don’t?

Why, you ask, for crying out loud? To protect ourselves from a global pandemic, numpty! Government announcements are fed counsel from health organisations and medical experts, skewered by bent politics, naturally, but the bullet points are there. It is not the same self-entitled buffoons, they’re voiceover artists on this occasion; given free reign they’d have “herd immunity,” against WHO advise.

Can you not see through the wool? The government press released the Downing Street Christmas Party scandal themselves, bang on cue of an announcement, so we would all think precisely that, why should we do what they say when they clearly don’t? If we rebel from their restrictions, we’ve only got ourselves to blame when the virus spreads. The government gets what they always wanted, herd immunity, and they’ve shifted the blame away from them and onto you, me, and everyone else.

Therefore, we need to take precautions ourselves, be a community, care for others around us. No hard and fast lockdown is needed, if common bloody sense prevailed, but government seem intent to rinse it from our craniums. We’re not self-service tills, do not robotise us!

We know now how to prevent the virus spreading; keep your distance from others, wear facemasks in public places, follow NHS guidelines in testing and get vaccinated as soon as possible, whether they tell you to or not.

These things should be commonplace, but whenever restrictions ease, like a naughty school-boy triumphantly marching out of detention only to offend again, we forget everything we’ve learned and pay the cost for it. I’m not preaching like a saint, caged too, I urged for a pint, to lob my facemask into the air, hug, and flaunt the rules when the rules relaxed, at times reflecting if we did the right thing, least if we did it too soon. But it’s done now and we can’t turn the hands of time. If we could, I’d still be on Castlemorton Common.

Old Skool Rave

In this, one series of articles I was proud of this summer was in reminiscence of my youth, being the thirtieth anniversary of 1991, an explosion for the rave scene. But another similar premise based on news of illegal raves happening in lockdown, was to ask those old skool ravers if they’d still go raving if there was a similar pandemic in the nineties; with interesting results.

Return of the Rave

And if it sounded like I was defending mainstream media, I wasn’t, only applying a smidgen of sympathy. With Facebook, Twitter et al, media is everyone now; I’m living proof any idiot can publish a blog and make look it like reputable news! Reason why, I guess, criticising other local outlets always brings hits, the occasion I felt the need to defend Devizes against the sharp eye of local gutter-press Wiltshire Live, proved to be our third most popular article of the year.

Devizes is a great place to live, Tory top-heavy, but that’s something anyone with an alternative opinion has to unfortunately suck up. Our fourth most popular article this year was in January, breaking the news Tory PCC candidate for Wiltshire, Johnathan Seed, was a bad card. Something as more evidence came to light, namely drink-driving offences, proved to be true, at the time I put my finger on something conflicting in his chat with us, calling anyone who cared to address fox hunting a “troll,” but requesting we talk on his trespass pledges, blatantly linked to restrict the movement of sabs, the only folk we see actually policing this disgusting and unbelievable smokescreen of trail hunting. Something we covered more recently, suggesting Boxing Day Hunts need better policing.

Moan I’m bias, yeah, no shit, Sherlock. Do I attempt to hide it like others? Why the hell should I side with anyone butchering wildlife for so-called sport, and in that, why the hell would you?! But hey, I remained impartial during local elections, giving each and every candidate a platform, so there!

Never has a PCC election run with such controversy. Aggravation between sides fired, and we did more than blow the lid off Seedy’s bogus campaign, causing some alarming revelations in local social media bias. Tories back Tories, no matter what they’ve done wrong, it’s an allegiance to admire, even if you feel it’s malicious. As well as chatting with Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster and independent Mike Rees, we tried a few spoofs: Play the Wiltshire PCC Game, Basil Brush Missing, and upon the Tories hustling in an alternative candidate by stalling the re-election, we ran a short story The Adventures of Police Crime Commissioner Wilko, which was based upon a better received satire, a long-running mock of Wiltshire Council, in The Adventures of Councillor Yellowhead.

At times Mike seemed such a threat to Wiltshire’s Tory totalitarianism, a media attack seemed the best method to deflect people taking the common-sense vote. The first bout came in January, when Mike was barred from volunteering to administer lateral flow Covid tests, the second in July affected me personally as the Devizes Issues Facebook group revealed its fiercely denied bias, by banning me for using a George Orwell quote to express my concern at the taxpayer having to fork four million quid for a re-election which was clearly the Conservative Party’s fault! I’m adamant it was justified.

Nineteen-eighty-four was supposed to be a warning, not a fucking self-help guide.

Annoyed, I struck out, naturally, and was begged back, after the full-gone conclusion a Wiltshire majority blindly vote for the blue rosette no matter what! But it was a month after the ban, the smear reached its apex, with all posts about the independent candidate immediately banned and deleted on the popular Facebook group, and anyone complaining were blamed by members for the downfall in Mike’s success! You can’t make up hypocrisy that nasty. 

Tory Devizes Town Councillor Iain Wallis on “the Devizes Issues.”

It’s not the politics which bothers me as much as the kind of world they envision. Stories of injustice swamped Devizine this year, more than ever before, even our April Fool’s Joke had stark repercussions. 

Every minute an adolescent arm reaches out of a window, unceremoniously handing a bag of fast food to a driver, they nod a thanks, and leave. That seemed to me to be the maximum social interaction of 2020, yet commonplace in modern living, pandemic or not. I recalled going to a Tesco, paid at the pump, masked expressions as I sauntered the aisles, paid at the self-service till and on the way out considered one could live their life in modern times completely unnoticed, months need pass without human contact. My mind meanders if that’s something young folk actually want, or if they’ve been robotised, or if it’s an age thing leaving me in a care-home for terminally bewildered.

The best hitting article of the year was again, our April Fool’s Day joke, where this time I misleadingly announced the opening of a McDonalds in Devizes. Maliciously planned, it broke the local internet, and despite suggesting it was All Fools Day in the piece, comments and messages flooded in from headline scanners. In favour of it or not, the debate is such popular the joke was lost on many desperate souls dying for a McFlurry; causing faith, just like Chippenham’s recent pandemonium for a bucket of battery chicken in gravy, yes, Aldous Huxley was bang-on, many folks do want to live in this commercialised bubble, void of individualism.


On Everything Else

Individualism, free thinking and fair and just causes we stand for here, it is not my fault the many attempts to counteract this seem to come from a conservative ethos, and therefore get criticised for it. I’m not dead against conservativism, but they seem dead against me, as if we’re supposed to know our place tip our hat and reply, “very good guvnor, I’ll bail your shit for a shilling!”

My god, how they hate common people who can articulate, that’s’ why they slash away like Freddy Kruger at the education budget while back the grammar school relaunch. Then keyboard warriors whinge at juvenile delinquency like it’s a new thing and something stringing them up for will somehow solve. We’re heading into days as dark as the early eighties, perhaps medieval for some, days I remember with a horror in my heart.

The audacious legacy building bashes on with grand and glorious plans, I reported Stonehenge had been saved by the High Court, but they operate above the law and continue to ignore the justice system, plotting to bury a road underneath it, shaking it to ruin, least knocking it of the World Heritage List, for the sake of knocking minutes off commuting times.

I criticised the reality of building a whole new train station miles out of Devizes, against popular opinion, cos I’ll believe it when I see it, and furthermore, I feel there’s more pressing issues which looking at. If not our terrible infrastructure, the state of our roads, and the endless chain of bureaucratic nonsense to get the simplest of notions pushed through bumbling pompousness of councillors and apparent do-gooders, it’s the increasing homeless on our streets, the need for Food Banks which the Tories selfishly assume is a good thing, the poverty level submerging a continuous population and the outright condoning of racist, sexist and homophobic acts. Sort them out, and I’ll gladly stand on Devizes Parkway platform with you, or any other brazen legacy-building pledge you dream up!

Every time I’m duped, I feel like an idiot, unable to get my message through the red tape. You want a train station, yet I reported the dangerous state of a Wiltshire Council playpark in Rowde, FIVE years ago, and I have to seriously throw my toys out of the pram to get anyone to pay it any attention. In February this year I was delighted, based on my article, Councillor Laura Mayes secured £20,000 from WC to re-design the playground and she proudly used it to publicise her election pledge.

But still the playpark remains in the same state of disrepair, not a penny pledged has been spent. Whether this is WC’s fault or the Parish Council I don’t know, they got what I suspect they wanted, a successful election result, and my whinging reduced too. I’ve just lost all faith and interest in continuing to bother with it. You want a train station, huh? Traffic lights at the Black Dog crossroads? A no left turn sign at the top of Dunkirk Hill? Yeah, good luck with that, we’re moving into six years for them to fix a dangerous baseplate of a bouncy chicken in a playpark!

Yet perseverance can pay off; we loved it when Rab Hardie of Duck N Curver broke into Stonehenge to raise awareness of his wish to film a video inside the stone circle, we asked if the Fire & Rescue Service were Cutting Vital Flood Equipment, defended Wiltshire Police from keyboard warriors upset they used a rainbow as their Facebook logo during Pride Month, wished Devizes Lions a happy 50th, supported Joe Brindle on his campaign to save Drews Pond Wood, attended Save Furlong Close protests, added some reflection on the Travellers based in Bromham, praised local artist, Clifton Powell when he was commissioned for English Heritage Exhibition, The African Diaspora in England, had a great time at Breakout, Chippenham’s Alternative Art Show, congratulated the award-winning British Lion. Crickey, the list goes on; the vast array of subjects we’ve covered, even war memorials which look like bins!

I must be boring you into an early grave, which isn’t the best way to start a new year!

One last thing, we did plenty of spoofs and satirical pieces, too many to name, yet, all’s fair in love and war, and it was a great year; here’s to 2022! I leave it there before your head explodes!


Jon Amor to Take Up Sunday Residency at The Southgate

Featured images by Nick Padmore

I still remember landlord Deborah’s face aglow some years back, when she told me Devizes blues legend Jon Amor was booked to play The Southgate. He’s made several appearances since, as solo and as frontman of King Street Turnaround, but today the Southgate announced Jon will take up a Sunday residence at the lively Devizes pub…..

It will be a quieter New Year’s Eve for the Southgate, there is no music booked and from Monday 3rd to Monday 10th January the pub will be closed. “We’re keeping it simple on NYE, no live music, believe it or not!” Deborah said. “But we’re saving the best of the best until Sunday with a mega Blues/Funk/Rock gig to blow away the extended hangovers!

With an awesome line-up on Sunday 2nd, as Jon is joined with Innes Sibun, Pete Gage, Jerry Soffe, and Tom Gilkes, I knew about this little marvel, and it has been up on our calendar for a while now. What I didn’t know is this will build a new house band for the Gate, “yes,” Deborah delights to inform, “Jon Amor and friends are taking up residency! Sunday afternoon gigs, first Sunday every month for 2022.”

So expect to see King Street Turnaround with Jon and friends on the first Sunday of each month down the Gate, which is some great news!

The future is bright, the future is The Southgate! Reopening on Tuesday 11th Jan, with the absolutely awesome rock covers band Triple JD Band on Saturday 15th! Rock on!

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Meanwhile our event calendar is building up with choices for New Year’s Eve, do check it out for links, and have a great New Year; hopefully might catch you down the Southgate on Sunday, if I’m allowed out to play by the boss!

Billy Green (solo) @ The Hourglass, Devizes

Devizes Scooter Club NYE Party @ Devizes Cons Club

New Year’s Eve @ The Vaults

New Year’s Eve @ Massimos, Devizes

Rip it Up @ The Greyhound, Bromham

Sour Apple @ The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve

Six O’clock Circus @ The Talbot, Calne

The Roughcut Rebels NYE bash @ The Churchill Arms, West Lavington

New Year’s Eve Party @ The Green Dragon, Market Lavington

Illingworth @ the Waterfront Bar, Pewsey

Get Schwithty (Jamie R Hawkins & Phil Cooper) @ The Bear, Marlborough

80s, 90s, 00s NYE Party @ Wellington Arms, Marlborough

Deathproof Audio NYE Party @ the Vic, Swindon

Dubsouls & The Rumble-O’s @ The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath

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REVIEW – Kossoff – The Band Plays On @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 18th December 2021

Free At Last!

Andy Fawthrop

And so we came to the last LSBC offering of 2021, marking the half-way stage on the current season of concerts.  It’s been a packed programme recently, but no-one’s complaining about that!

Last night’s offering was as good as a double-header as far as I was concerned.

Drafted in at relatively short notice as the support act was local legend Jon Amor, a man I’ve seen many a time as the head-liner.  He bounced onto the stage brandishing an acoustic guitar, and looking full of beans.  It seemed strange and unusual not to see him backed up with one or other of his bands, particular King Street Turnaround, as I last saw him at the Southgate recently.  But there was no stopping him as he confidently blew through several songs, and at one time wandering out in to the audience to sing acapella before returning to the stage to finish the song.  It takes guts and panache to pull that sort of thing off, but it worked wonderfully.  Highlight song for me this time, as often before, was “Another Stitch In Your Party Dress”.  It was a great short set – chipper, upbeat, confident.  Great to see Jon in such great form.

Main act was Terry Slesser’s 5-piece Kossoff – The Band Plays On, who produced two confident and polished sets.  They were last at LSBC back in May 2019, which I remember as one of the highlight gigs of that year.  I won’t bang on about Free/ Bad Company/ Back Street Crawler being the soundtrack to my musical upbringing in the late 60s/ early 70s but….but…well, they just were.  And, yet again, it was soooo good to hear some of their songs knocked out with precision, love and energy.  Slesser, taking lead vocals, is no Paul Rodgers in either looks or voice, but he certainly makes up for it in passion and delivery.  His command of the band and his easy connection with the audience were winning features.  And the band, again no look-alikes, were terrific when it came to that lovely sludgy, driving Andy Fraser bass and that Paul Kossoff squealing lead guitar.

They kicked off with Free’s “Fire and Water”, a stonking opener which immediately put down an early marker of intent.  I’ve said before that these guys are no mere “tribute” band, content to slog through a greatest-hits set and take the money.  This was much more about “homage” to some truly gifted musicians and song-writers, nicely capturing the sound and the feel of the early 70s, with Slesser’s personal recollections of Paul Kossoff interspersing the songs.  And the song selection itself was interesting and respectful, delivering some of the lesser-known numbers, such as “Long Way Down To The Top” and “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler), “Walk In My Shadow”, and “I’ll Be Creeping” (Free).  And there was the more subtle, non-rocking stuff, such as “Be My Friend”, proving that the band (like all the great rock bands) were not just one-trick ponies, but capable of writing tender and thoughtful lyrics.

Of course there was the usual leavening of stonking hits – “The Stealer”, “My Brother Jake” and (inevitably) “All Right Now” – which all went down a storm.  And, just as Free themselves used to do back in the day, delivering their well-deserved encore that thumping blues classic “The Hunter”.

Great entertainment, and a great night out.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins. 

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Antonio Forcione @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 27th November 2021

Italian Jazz Guitarist

Andy Fawthrop

This was the third Long Street Blues Club weekend gig on the bounce for me.  Following Gerry Jablonski Band two weeks ago, and the blow-away Focus gig at The Corn Exchange last week, it was back to the familiar surroundings of the Con Club in Long Street for (yet again) something completely different.….

Support act for the evening was Eddie Witcomb, who started off with a lot of nervous chatter before getting stuck in.  He played mostly his own material but also hit a cover of Nina Simone’s “Because You’re Mine”.  His songs were gentle, thoughtful pieces, but definably in the downbeat and miserable categories.  Describing himself as a “one song a year man”, it was obvious that his songs were a labour of love.  Some of them had curious, trail-off endings, leaving the audience confused at times as to when he’d actually finished.  Overall his set was entertaining, but low key.  I think he needs a few more upbeat numbers to leaven the mix a little, but otherwise great stuff, much appreciated by a large and supportive audience.  Chatting afterwards over a pint, Eddie said that he had indeed been nervous, mostly caused by simple lack of gigs over the Lockdown period, but that he was looking forward to getting his various solo and group projects moving again – which I’m sure will happen for such a dedicated and talented bloke.

Antonio Forcione, the main act of the evening, is an artist who has been hailed as one of the most charismatic, unconventional guitarists at large in the musical world today.  And with a host of international awards under his belt, this eclectic composer produced two fine sets that had the audience enthralled.  Starting on stage with just himself and his cellist, the very first number was spell-binding and mesmeric.  Then joined by bass and percussion players to fill out this international quartet, he proceeded to produce some truly stunning acoustic music.  It was a mark of the respect with which the audience held him that when he was playing you could hear a pin drop in a very crowded room – no background chatter, no noise from the bar, perfect listening conditions.

The first set was slightly shortened when Antonio had to do some running repairs on his guitar, before coming out of the blocks in the second half with number after number of beautiful, nuanced playing.  Dropping back to occupying the stage solo “to give the band a rest”, he proved that he is an absolute master of his craft.  And then, as the band re-joined, with their sensitive and sympathetic accompaniments, adding layer upon layer of sound, much of it with a laid-back jazz sensibility, creating complex soundscapes, the magic simply continued.  We had a musical trip around the world, with influences from Spain, Italy, South Africa.  It was mesmerising, it was entrancing, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Yet again, we were very lucky to be able to listen to an international artist of such standing and musical skill in our little town.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins.  And another great night out at Long Street Blues Club.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Focus @ LSBC, Corn  Exchange, Devizes – Saturday 20th November 2021

Best Gig Of The Year In D-Town!

Andy Fawthrop

Second day on the trot in the Corn Exchange for me – on Friday night it was Motown Gold, with D-Town’s (ahem) young things bopping away to hits from their lifetime’s soundtrack.  But on Saturday night it was something completely different – a journey into the wilds of 70s Prog Rock, with a side-serving of close-harmony contemporary folk.……

This was a complete change of venue for Long Street Blues Club for one night only, switching from the usual Con Club to a much larger hall and stage, in order to accommodate a more fitting light and sound show for one of the music business’s most famous bands, as well as to pack in a bigger crowd.  And it was a move that was fully justified, as the music-starved hordes of The Vize turned out in their hundreds.

But first things first – the support act The Lost Trades, consisting of three well-known local singer/ song-writers: Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin and Jamie R. Hawkins.  (See Darren’s pre-gig interview with them if you’d like to know more about what makes them tick, [coming soon, Ed!]).  I’ve personally seen these guys sing before, many times, both as individual performers and as The Trades, and they’ve always impressed me.  On this occasion, and with a big attentive crowd in front of them, I thought that they absolutely nailed it.

Kicking off with “Only When We Sing With One Voice”, “Road of Solid Gold” and “Kingdom Falls” – all tracks on their latest album – all three performers looked relaxed and well-rehearsed.  Their multi-voice harmonies were spot on, and their (apparently) effortless swapping around of instruments showcased their collective talent and versatility (including a complete no-panic moment when Jamie broke a guitar string).  The songs were far from being one-dimensional, and instead were nuanced and textured.  As a group, I feel that their song-writing has improved no end, each of them contributing their own ideas, as well as improving the inputs of the others.  Their performance, to my ears at least, is strongest when Jamie takes the lead on vocals and, as they did on their last song, they simply drop all the instruments and just give us the stripped-down acapella harmonies.  All in all a top-notch, consummate performance which I expect will have won them a lot of new friends.  Just superb.

And then, as someone famous once said, for something completely different.  And you couldn’t get much more different than veteran Dutch prog-rockers Focus. 

Currently in the middle of their 50th anniversary UK Tour (which continues to mid-Dec, then starts again from April 2022), these guys are an absolute institution.  Still touring, still making albums (they are now on their tenth!) and new music, and still bringing crowds to their feet across Europe, Focus blew into D-Town and, with a little musical hocus-pocus, blew us all away.

Fronted by founding member Thijs Van Leer (an imposing figure in long black leather coat) on Hammond organ, flute and (ahem) vocals, the rest of the band were: veteran member Pierre van der Linden on drums, Menno Gootjes on guitar and Udo Pannekeet on 6-string bass.  And they seemed to be there on stage in absolutely no time at all, following a rapid changeover from the Trades, almost taking everyone by surprise.  Before we knew it we were off with the first number, fittingly called “Focus 1” – no warm-up, no intro, just straight into it.

And that was the start of a breath-taking two-hour-long set.  Suddenly we were in the midst of progressive rock – heavy chords on the organ, light passages on the flute, with guitar solos, bass solos, drum solos, some wonderful wandering jazzy improv passages, and (of course) those bizarre vocal interludes, scat singing and yodelling.  Most of the set was instrumentals – these are (in true prog-rock parlance) not just “songs” in the conventional sense, but rather “pieces”, consisting of different phases, passages, moods.  We were getting very close to Concept Album territory here, but we managed to avoided any such cliché as that.

Of course we got all the big 70s chart hits – how could they not on an anniversary tour? – “House Of The King”, “Sylvia” and a blistering, massively-extended version of “Hocus Pocus”.  But there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy too – “Le Tango”, “Peace March”, “All Hands On Deck”, “Hamburger Concerto” to name just a few others.  The vocals, such as they were, were largely incoherent, incomprehensible noises uttered by Thijs at key moments in the pieces.  But it was far from a one-man show, as proved by Thijs when he wandered off stage several times, including once through the audience and into the foyer, as the other musicians took their solos and duets.  Menno’s guitar-playing was stunning, and a real highlight for me, beating the bass and drum solos by a long way.

I have to say that this was the gig of the year for me.  By the end of the night the band not only got a fully-deserved encore, but a full-throttle standing ovation.  As far as I’m concerned, they knocked it right out of the park.  If you were there, you know exactly what I mean.  And if you weren’t there, you missed the best show in town!

Given what I’ve said above about The Lost Trades’ equally superb performance, the whole evening delivered a fantastic night’s entertainment, and a really strong advertisement for live music in Devizes.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Climax Blues Band @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 30th October 2021

New Music For Old Favourites

by Andy Fawthrop

Another trip up the hill to the Con Club for the latest pop-up session of Long Street Blues Club, and another great night with a busy and enthusiastic audience.

Support act for the night was Bristol-based Damian Arketta, a new name for me, but I’m always happy to listen to new talent.  Damian played a lot of his own stuff, which I found generally unremarkable, and a rather awkward cover of Heard It Thru’ The Grapevine.  To be honest I found his singing style a little strident and shouty, and there was nothing special in his playing – no subtlety or nuance.  To me the applause sounded polite and supportive, rather than genuinely enthusiastic, but I’m aware that views may differ.  Thinking that I was perhaps being a little harsh on the guy, I asked around a bit and found a somewhat Marmite response – some folks thought he was really good, whilst others (like me) were far less enthusiastic.  Overall, however, you simply can’t like everyone, and I’ll just say that he didn’t really float my boat.

Main act for the night were the legendary Climax Blues Band.  The band were originally formed way back in 1968 by Colin Cooper who led the band with Pete Haycock through great success and recognition through the 1970s and 1980s.  The current 6-piece line-up, however, are a different set of guys now, but that’s not to say they don’t have plenty of track record between them.

George Glover has been on the keyboards since 1981, Lester Hunton on guitar since 1986, and Roy Adams (drums) and Neil Simpson (bass) joined the band on a permanent basis around 1990.  The current line-up was completed by Graham Dee on vocals, and Chris ‘Beebe’ Aldridge on saxes.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well there was much chat from frontman Graham Dee about the journey the band was undertaking in trying to blend the music from their historic roots, the material they’ve inherited, with the songs they’re writing and delivering today, the completely new material.  The band, quite rightly, want to move forward and to develop.  And the result, to my mind, was a complete success.  They delivered two good long sets of blended soulful, boogie-woogie, funky, bluesy music.  There was also a jazzy feel at times, as the musicians took their solos, then blending easily back into the groove.  The band looked and sounded comfortable, giving the music the space to breathe.  Dee’s gravelly vocals, combined with Alridge’s seductive sax notes, added superb subtlety and tone to the driving rhythm section.

Dee was a terrific frontman, looking and sounding the part of the band’s MC, coaxing and encouraging all the musicians in turn as they took flight.  His rapport with the audience was spot-on – confidential, cheeky, honest, down-to-earth.  And, yes, he did mention from time to time that the band had a new album out (Hands Of Time)!  He also led the audience in a great call-and-response treatment of “It’s A Family Affair” – exhausting, but great fun.  It was infectious, it was engaging, it was a great performance

Overall another great night at the club – great value to listen to world-class musicians in our own back yard.  Well done to Ian Hopkins and his team!  And there’s loads more good stuff in the pipeline too – see the listings below.

So – you know what you’ve got to do – get out there and support live music!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 13th November 2021                   Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 20th November 2021                   Focus (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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Barry Reviews Strange Folk at The Southgate!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


REVIEW – Jimmy Carpenter – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 2nd October 2021

Long, slow sax in the evening

Andy Fawthrop

I think we’re all partial to some casual sax when it’s on offer, so it didn’t take much persuasion to get me back up Long Street to the Con Club for the next date of Long Street Blues Club’s winter season.  Tonight it was the turn of Las Vegas-based Jimmy Carpenter and his band, and the Devizes date was the first night of their UK tour…..

But first things first.  Acoustic support act for the night was Lewis Clark, shorn of his Essentials for the evening – just the man, his voice and his guitar.  Lewis played mostly his own material, and a lot of the songs were new.  These were often raw in emotion, but still strong on melody, with some intricate guitar playing and soaring vocal work.  He did play one cover – John Martyn’s I Don’t Wanna Know, and a damned fine job he made of it too.  Lewis is a talented guy, and the crowd clearly appreciated it as a great start to the evening’s entertainment.

Then it was onto the main man – Jimmy Carpenter.  The man came highly recommended on the back of his new album (Soul Doctor) and his Blues Foundation 2021 award for Best Instrumentalist.  The guy is a saxophonist, singer-songwriter, and arranger and has been in the music business for over 35 years – and it showed.  I was new to the guy’s music, but was totally won over by the end of the night.

The 5-piece band played two 50-minute sets and it was the mark of how darned good it was that it seemed to slip by in half that time.  Jimmy was in total control of his band (including a bassist brought in at the last minute due to a possible Covid scare) and, after a few numbers, in control of the crowd.  The sets featured several original tracks from the album, including a really superb rendition of the eponymous Soul Doctor, together with a seamless leavening of carefully selected covers.  Just as I was beginning to think of comparisons – Van Morrison, Southside Johnny, Junior Walker – up came the latter’s Shotgun.  We also journeyed through Peter Green’s Need Your Love So Bad, Otis Clay’s Trying To Live My Life Without You, the Rolling Stones’ Shine A Light, Freddy King’s Surf Monkey and Eddie Hinton’s (of Muscle Shoals fame) Yeah Man. 

All of this was played with enormous panache and great energy, effortlessly working through Memphis soul, boogie-woogie, rock & roll, and blues.  And not content with blowing some wicked sax and putting out a great line in gravelly vocals, the man kept flipping over to lead guitar “just for a rest”.  What a performer!  Needless to say the crowd lapped it up.

Great night’s entertainment, and what good quality live music is all about!  Best sax I’ve had in ages!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

  • 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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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…