A (hic) Festival of Winter Ales

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Call them Ale

Proper quality celebratory glasses here y’ know, no squashy disposable cups; something of a memento. There are flowers in a jar on the table, aroma of hot pie, and a bulky fellow juggling knifes, while straddling our own Ian Diddams while he lies flat on his back on stage. If your preconception of a beer festival is a marquee in a muddy field, think again, this is the prestigious Devizes Corn Exchange and DOCA, our Outside Celebratory Arts association, are holding their annual Festival of Winter Ales in conjunction with the Stealth Brewery Company.

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Splat the Rat

I’ll come clean, I’m breaking my Festival of Winter Ales cherry tonight, and I’m also fashionably late. Friday night was a sell-out, I’m informed, today is near equal in success, but I’d better hurry on in, the beers were running out. Another confession, I be a cider drinker, part of my five a day. Our man Andy cannot report, he’s here in a professional capacity, tending the bar, least lengthy set of tables. I would have kept him on his toes, but he’s attending to the ale end of things, I’m occupying the cider corner. A rhubarb laced cider is my first glassful, despite the event’s name, there’s ciders aplenty, but the choice of ale was extensive and over the whole weekend you could possibly, but unlikely to, pursue them all.

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Vince Bell

With a customary token system functioning, and barrels aligning the length of the grand hall, there’s part of this event which reflects the standard beer festival format, in a grand fashion. Yet it has a civilised angle, prementioned flowers on tables, etc and surrounding the magnificent stage as if it was an awards evening rather than a beer festival. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint but a compliment, twas a splendid arrangement for a splendid evening; no one need a muddy field in a rain drenched February, save perhaps the odd duck.

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Matt Barnard

If I’m honest, which you know I blatantly am, I’m not surprised by the impressive event, Stealth knows good beer, and DOCA know what they’re doing and could arrange a party on a glacier off Antarctica and it’d still be awesome. Winter beanies off to them both, for this inviting and warming occasion which is, essentially, an important fundraising event which will help fund the carnival and massive summer events such as the beloved annual street festival.

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It’s Complicated

Through the three sessions over two days, our best local bands and musicians played, the wonderful It’s Complicated, Splat the Rat and Vince Bell. I was there in time to catch the finale of Matt Barnard, who has amused as compere, and all-round entertainer through the festival. He’s a confident, comical and cheery chap with that unique Saturday Night at the Palladium ability to cover all aspects of showbiz proficiently. Kris Dollimore followed, with an extensive résumé, this member of Del Amitri drove from Cornwall to pick a guitar akin to an illusionist vanishing the Eifel Tower. I pay particular astonishment to his beautiful rendition of Marvin Gaye’s Inner-City Blues.

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Kris Dollimore

What a most splendid event, one worthy of your attention for next year, and priced at a tenner with first pint free in your keepsake glass, you cannot go wrong.

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Tickets for Winter Ale

Tickets for DOCA’s Devizes Festival of Winter Ales 2020 at the Corn Exchange on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th February 2020 are now on sale…..
The Devizes Festival of Winter Ales is a fundraising event to help meet the costs of DOCA’s free annual programme of outstanding outdoor arts events and activities, including the Devizes International Street Festival, Confetti Battle, Devizes Carnival and the Christmas Lantern Parade.

Held in collaboration with Stealth Brewery, DOCA have bespoke, warming ales and ciders from some of the best independent breweries in the country, as well as some fantastic bands and special DOCA style entertainment. You’ll be able to chose from a selection of Lovett’s pies, and top quality snacks to keep you going.

Expect fantastic bands over the three sessions, Soon to be announced. In usual DOCA style we will bring to you a cabaret act with a difference!

This year, for your entertainment they will be welcoming Matt Barnard. Matt has performed across the world as a compere, actor, musician, singer and as himself in his unique one man show.
He was the resident compere of the cult Sensation Seekers Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, starred in London’s oldest variety show in the West End in and performed his unique act at the famous London Palladium. He also appeared in the Hollywood movie Mrs Henderson Presents in which he performed the famous sand-dance with Gareth Jones.

Unfortunately, DOCA will be unable to admit people who are under 18. Tickets will include a festival half pint glass and enough beer tokens for two half pints.


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REVIEW – Comedy Night @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Friday 20th September 2019

A Funny Old Night

Andy Fawthrop

A fairly packed audience gathered in the Corn Exchange on Friday night for Devizes Comedy’s presentation. Not sure it was quite sold out, but there weren’t too many empty seats in the place.

 
First up was Canadian born Tanyalee Davis, described in the publicity as “Joan Rivers meets a pile driver”. She has a form of dwarfism called diastrophic dysplasia. At only 3 foot 6 inches tall, this presents a few challenges and misconceptions in her daily life, but this also provides a rich vein of material for her stand-up routine. Her material, like her, is low to the ground, quite blue and racy in places, evoking laughs both from the inherent humour, but also from the shock value. A highly entertaining opener.

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Next up was more normal sized Irishman Keith Farnan. Here was a comic very comfortable in his own skin, and very confident with his material. He delivered an absolute master-class in how to play an audience, feeding on minor and polite heckling, and casually eliciting and provoking clues and local information to mould his script. A lot of it felt extremely-well improvised, and he took great delight in holding up a mirror to the Devizes crowd’s lack of diversity. He successfully took the piss out of being middle class, being Irish, his own name, being Jewish (he’s not, but his wife is), homophobia, Ryannair and many other topics. Not topics that were exactly bleeding edge, but he wrung some absolute belly-laughs out of such thin gruel. For my money – the best comic of the night.

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After the interval, another two acts. First of these was Tom Lucy – young, slightly camp and with a mother he described as a MILF. He tried the same trick as Keith Farnan, trying to use the audience to provide clues and prompts to direct his material, but far less successfully. A number of times he ended up, by his own admission, up a comedy cul-de-sac, having to cut routines short because they just weren’t going anywhere. Better material was on modern technology – smartphones, emojis, dating apps and dick-pics. But to my mind he never really got going, and the big laughs just weren’t there.

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And finally, top of the bill, was Mike Osman. We were all asked to stand, face to the rear of the room, and put hand on heart, to allow the entrance of this Donald Trump impersonator to the strains of Hail To The Chief. A showy entrance, but to my mind, one that felt a bit flat. Once up on the stage we had the White House lectern (later revealed to contain a Kim Jong-Un lookalike) and a pair of US flags. The whole act was an extended riff on “DT comes to Devizes”, occasionally side-stepping into a (very poor) musical number, and a range of old & new impressions (I don’t think Rory Bremner or Jon Culshaw have anything to worry about). Osman had DT’s looks, mannerisms and voice, and did a fairly good impression of The Orange One, but (to me at least) failed to convince. Most of the audience found him hilarious most of the time, but the material was frankly tedious and thin, and the jokes fairly old/ poor/ standard. If this is what you have to do to earn a living…..

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© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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