Asa is Back in Devizes

Give or take a week, it’s been two years since Devizes Corn Exchange reverberated rock n roll when Liverpool’s entertainer Asa Murphy presented his Buddy Holly tribute show. An amazing fundraising night, in dedication to local music hero Bruce Hopkins, the show had perfect renditions of Buddy’s songs wrapped in a simple narrative to set the scenes, and by the end, Age Concern need not be called as young and old, the audience danced in the aisles!

Deja-vu on many preview pieces we wrote about this time last year, including announcing Asa set to return without the Buddy specs in April with a variety performance and handpicked guest appearances.

Obviously and sadly, it couldn’t be, but I’m pleased to now re-announce the Corn Exchange is booked for this show on October 16th, and will feature the original lineup; superb sixties singer, Sandy Collins and Lennie Anderson, an excellent comic.
Tickets are on sale at Devizes Books, which you can call to secure your seats until the shop is bookshop is open again for business.

For more details you could check last year’s preview, by clicking here; saves me writing it all again, but don’t look directly at the old date, look around that date and concentrate your mind on October 16th 2021! Oh, and I hope to see you there!


Buddy Holly Lived, Last Night at the Corn Exchange

I love the way BBC Radio Merseyside presenter, Asa Murphy says “Devizes,” in his Facebook video-diaries. The rich scouse accent feels almost alien against the usual Wiltshire enunciation. In fact, there was a scouse tinge amidst the customary folk chatter in the Corn Exchange last night, as it prepared for the hit show, Buddy Holly Lives.

Asa had messaged me early in the week, asking to give the event a push; he still had sixty tickets left. We did what we could, but I had to forewarn him Devizine’s demographic doesn’t trend to an older age group, generally. Also, it was perhaps the wrong weekend to stage anything rock n roll in town, both the Long Street Blues Club and the Melksham Rock n Roll Club had events, popularly enticing loyal target audiences the show would surely attract too.

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Yet my only inane grumble about last night was that we crammed into the Corn Exchange like sardines, the seats adjoined with paper-depth separation, left barely the leg-room of an Easy-Jet flight, as this massive hall was brimming to bursting point; seems virtually every remining ticket at the beginning of the week had been snapped up. While a younger crowd could cope with this, the nature of the show bound to attract an older crowd, who surely need just a little space to move, particularly being the show was absolutely spellbinding and enticingly danceable. You could feel the audience, of an average middle-age, being there were a few younger, itching to jump off their seat but fearful in their morals that they’d be shoving elderly neighbours to the floor.

Although the last thing I wanted to do was injure a kindly old lady with my frenzied twist, when Asa finally suggested we get up and dance, by pronouncing “we are still teenagers!” the crowd needed no more encouragement, and the finale saw old and young throwing away cares, qualms and perhaps, any medical advice against excursion, to dance wildly in the aisles and manage best they could in their space.

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If Asa also suggesting continuing the party into the Exchange’s basement nightclub in jest, had become reality, I’d wager this generation would show the younger a move or two! For rock n roll, agree or deny, doesn’t care, it doesn’t care if you reject its influence on every brand of pop which followed, and even if after this aged generation the songs of Buddy Holly was to fade away, his and his peer’s daring experimentation, hedonism and desire to fuse cultures will be the blueprint for everything which ever follows.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, for Buddy Holly Lives is not a ground-breaking turning point for rock n roll, rather a homage to those that was, and for which was sublimely performed and thoroughly entertaining. Its narrative separated the show into four sections, recreating historic moments in Buddy’s career; his beginnings at KDAV radio which demanded he abstained current trends in rock n roll gave us a country intro, with a need to break the rules. Again, the resistance against shying away from playing the majority Afro-American Harlem Apollo and in doing so, giving Caucasians acceptance here, made an explosive second section leading to the interval.

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An inspiring third section a recreation of Buddy in the studio, enlightened his desire to experiment with strings and orchestral accompaniment, whereas the final section, though rather predictable, took the audience to the Winter Dance tour which saw the tragic end to this young prodigy’s life. Combined, Asa, backing group and associates acting the parts, gave us a comprehensive catalogue of Buddy’s songs and covers which Buddy would’ve approved, with panache and precision.

Rarely done with a “tribute act,” Asa tugged off trademark glasses and leapt out of character, to explain his reasoning for creating the show, the importance of bringing it to Devizes, and in doing so, not only introduced his charming charisma which has labelled him the “king of swing,” but paid a moving ode to Bruce Hopkins. It indicted the originality in this show, for though it had enough narrative to combine the songs, unlike a theatrical production, there was not enough to distract from the music, but more-so, this was not a tribute act, but a homage to Asa’s influence. It also stated the charitable donation the show made.

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In conclusion then, the combination of the show’s charitable cause, the reasoning for producing it, the subtle but significant narrative, the band and Asa’s realistic, vivid and skilful recreation of the legend of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, made this show absolutely brilliant.

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April Warming with Asa Murphy as Buddy Holly

The Corn Exchange, Devizes most prestigious and largest venue, sets to rock n roll on April 6th when Asa Murphy and gang brings his hit Liverpool show, Buddy Holly Lives to town.

Posting a rehearsal video on Facebook this week proved a plan, it sounds marvellous. Asa also made an appearance at Devizes Books last week. Yet, the weekend may not have been the most carefully selected, the popular Long Street Blues Club hosts the Billy Walton Band, while The Melksham Rock n Roll Club are bound to pull a crowd for the Hurricanes, all on the same night. With rock n rollers spoiled it’s just to express why Buddy Holly Lives is my personal choice for the most unmissable event this April, hopeful to reach to an audience beyond rock n roll aficionados, and I base it upon the simple fact Buddy’s music was such it transcends its genre.

Timeless performers of Buddy’s level of talent and prolific drive come around one in a generation, if we’re lucky. Above all of their peers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the experimentalists, the pioneers who avoided rock n roll crashing out of fashion with their diverseness in musical formats. The unpretentious, simplest formulas are the backbone of every pop classic, take the ease which Buddy mastered this notion in a tune like “It’s Raining in my Heart,” or “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

 
But if we are to strip down a song for analysis, take “Everyday” as a prime example of what I’m attempting to get at. An out of studio rehearsal of the song, where without drums Jerry Allison tapped the rhythm with his hands on his thighs, it is Buddy’s immediate eureka moment to keep it as that, rather than use drums which represents the genius in simplicity which the Beatles borrowed, the same cognitive creative virtuoso producers like Quincy Jones, Lee Scratch Perry, Giorgio Moroder, or William Orbit would adopt to make a song into a hit, in their respective eras.

 

Do you see where I’m coming from? It is why I’d recommend any contemporary aspiring musician to take heed of Buddy’s catalogue, and also why I’d advise, if there’s one show this month you need to be at locally, it’s this homage to the utmost pioneer of pop, aside being a fan rock n roll, or not.

 
This is without the added detail it’s a celebration of the life of Bruce Hopkins, who through his music raised substantial amounts for Cancer Research, a donation will be made to charity, and Asa’s professionalism and dynamic charisma. Bought to together with Buddy’s music, with narrative, I’m not only looking forward to this, but dragging my mum halfway across the country to come see it! As a Buddy fan since early teenage, she will be a far harsher critic than me, Asa!

 
Tickets are £20, available now from Devizes Books.

 

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