Hew Miller; Does Something!

When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.

Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”

None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?

“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.

Hew Miller

Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.

“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.

“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”

Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley.  “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”

“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”

On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.

“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!

Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”

True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.


The Return of the Wharf Theatre

Word on the towpath is our wonderful theatre, the only theatre in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre is preparing for curtains up in October, starting with an amateur production of My Mother Said I Never Should.

Since being forced to close in March the team have been working tirelessly to keep East Wiltshire’s best loved and only theatre afloat. There was a time, in June, when the future looked rather bleak for the little theatre. After the renovation three years ago, surplus funds were already low, then lockdown happened. The Gazette reported it may have to close due to a £30,000 shortfall in income. Celebrity patron Christopher Biggins praised and promoted a campaign, at the time they hoped to reopen for 2021. So good news is, we’re some months earlier you can enjoy the Wharf productions once again.

While it’s great news for entertainment in town, be aware and be quick to book. Only thirty tickets are available for each performance, in line with current guidelines. They can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

Last years’ Chair, Oli Beech says: “Break out the bottles, the phoenix of theatre does rise from the ashes and soars high above Devizes! Our dear little theatre is back in the black after a close encounter with disaster! The call went out and boy, was it answered. We’ve had donations pouring in, generous members and locals passing the hats around, bake sale proceeds, even an overwhelming donation of £10,000. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us either financially or with their many words of support and encouragement….”

During their enforced closure the team hosted three costume sales to raise further funds; completely updated their website and launched a YouTube channel to keep people entertained with specially filmed monologues and some short behind the scene films.

The Wharf also welcome a new Artistic Director, Debby Wilkinson. “Restrictions are beginning to lift but with social distancing still very much in place,” Debby said, “anything we do in the theatre itself will be limited. However, we are very proud to launch the first three plays of our Autumn/Winter season.”

Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details. But I’m happy to announce the new performances will be:

My Mother Said I Never Should

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2020 7.30pm each evening

Written by Charlotte Keatley and Directed by Debby Wilkinson       

This rehearsed reading is scheduled to run on October 16th and 17th.   First performed in 1987, this play breaks with convention in that it doesn’t follow a linear timeline.  The text is now studied for both GCSE and A level and tells the stories of four women throughout several periods of their lives. It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters along the themes of independence and secrets. It is a poignant bittersweet story of love, jealousy and the price of freedom through the immense social changes of the 20th century.                   Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk


 Tickets: £10/£8 concessions.

Adam and the Gurglewink

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November

7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

Written and Directed by Helen Langford

Three rehearsed readings of an original play by the Wharf’s own Helen Langford.   Adam is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic.  They form a reluctant friendship where reality blurs and magic happen. They meet Rainbowgirl who challenges Adam to a dangerous quest which will depend on his ability to keep going when things are not always what they seem.

Suitable for children 6-12 years and their parents. Tickets:/ £8/£6 concessions


Collected Grimm Tales

Monday 14th to Saturday 19th December       7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

By: The Brothers Grimm     Directed by: Debby Wilkinson

Familiar and lesser known stories are brought to the stage using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  These stories journey into the warped world of imagination.  We will meet Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, performed by a small adult cast, on a simple set.  The audience will need to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for children and adults.

Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. On behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk  Adaptor Carol Ann Duffy Dramatised by Tim Supple and the Young Vic Co.  Tickets: £14/£12 concessions

Can you Help Lucie with her Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust?

Most girls want wireless Mpow headphones, an iPhone 11, a Himalayan salt lamp, or something like that for their fifteenth birthday. Maybe Lucie Green of Devizes does too, but in an awesome act of kindness, her focus is on having twenty inches of her hair cut off to donate to the Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust is an amazing charity which provides real hair wigs for children suffering from hair loss. When a child loses their hair to cancer or another condition, the Little Princess Trust provide a free, real hair wig to help restore their confidence and identity.

They also fund research and say, “we won’t stop until the research that we fund ends childhood cancer forever. Promise.” Though the Trust relies solely on the efforts of enthusiastic community fundraisers, and receive no formal funding.

Can we help her raise money for this worthy cause? Even the smallest donation is greatly appreciated, and all the money will go towards the cost of making a wig, which can be up to £500.

You can donate via Just Giving, Here.

Wishing you the very best of luck, Lucie. Maybe we could get a before and after picture?! For more information on the Little Princess Trust: www.littleprincesses.org.uk

Our IndieDay at Brogans!

Images by Gail Foster

Coming from Essex where shopping is religion, you’d think I’d be impartial to the duty. But no. To be bluntly honest, as I believe I mostly am, I find nothing entertaining or enjoyable in sauntering a continuous stream of mundane chain stores aimlessly, other than to spend money I haven’t got on crap I didn’t want or need in the first place. Blessed we are then, in Devizes, with an array of original, charming and interesting independent shops, which make shopping endurable for whinging cronies like me! An ethos celebrated, kind of, this Saturday by the group Devizes Retailers and Independents who, in order to return commerce to our wonderful and lively town, held an “IndieDay.”

MP Danny Kruger opened the event, I missed that, loads of shops got involved and opened their doors to a festivity-fashioned celebration, missed that too. Donkeys and more, I missed. Far better for me to contribute by loitering outside Brogans café, munching on a bacon roll and taking credit for Mike J Barham’s hard work!

I arrived late, The Devizes Rotary Club arrived long before to lend us a grand gazebo, and Mike too, he set up a PA, he managed the PA, he hosted the event with his charming and entertaining charisma, and everyone came up to me and thanked me; result!

Honestly, as I’ve said, I have to give a massive thanks to everyone involved for making it such a special day, and in this day and age it was indeed even greater. Mike Barham for one, aforementioned contributions, but two, for rocking both the opening and finale with a plethora of his own work, such as the lively Bowser’s Castle, and thoughtful prose through downtempo blues, to the thundering satire of a west-country-styled Top Gun theme, Danger Zone! The guy is a one-man machine, the best of the best, of the best.

So yes, breakfast to a late lunchtime at Brogans got lively, as people filled the plot outside and the carpark, in the sunshine. It was something until late last night I feared would fail, with gapping gaps between the confirmed acts. Sadly, and for various reasons, Archie Combe and Tom Harris had to cancel, and our opening act, Pewsey singer-songwriter, Cutsmith was also unable to attend. The worry took me until 10pm when I unleashed a masterplan; Tamsin Quin cropped up on the book of face, to thank me for reviewing the new Lost Trades single, and so, whammy, I dispatched note of my concern and asked nicely if she would be able to grace us with her presence, and naturally, sing us a song or three.

I highly suspect they’re secretly superheroes, Tamsin, Jamie and Phil, and if not, they certainly saved my skin, more than once before. Tamsin dragged Jamie R Hawkins along, and as their alter-egos with no need for superhero costumes, they did it again. Thank you both so, so much. Tamsin gave it her all, which needs no surprise, her confidence and professionalism doesn’t preside her charming grace and skill to entertain. Jamie accompanied her brilliantly on cajon, claiming to be “getting into it now!” after just two songs in.

Then Cath and Gouldy rocked up on their way to the Southgate, to play as their folk duo Sound Affects, which was, as ever, blindingly awesome. All originals and finishing on Mr Blue Sky and Come on Eileen covers, it was superb. So, a massive thanks to them.

The finale then, was rocked by Mr Michael J Barham, which I’ve said already, but needs another mention. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it really special day, including our photographers, Ruth, Nick and Gail, writer Andy and all the supporters. Thanks to Brogans for having us, I trust we behaved, least it could’ve been worse, believe me! It’s times like this which make Devizine feel more than me clonking on a keyboard, and rather a thing of community, of spirit and substance. Though now I’m back clonking, vainly bigging up our own gig, which I justify by noting it’s not about me, or my bacon roll, and more about the good folk who regularly contribute to make this website function, the musicians, writers and photographers, and supporters. Here’s to more, I want more!

This is not an act of vanity, but a condition Gail set forth in order for me to get permission to use them! Thanks Gail, it takes a highly skilled photographer to capture me smiling!

Two Man Ting Bring Sunshine to the Southgate Today

Winding up their “mini tour,” after last night’s gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, world/reggae duo, Two Man Ting appear at Devizes Southgate for an afternoon session from 4 to 6pm.

Midlands Jon Lewis and Sierra Leonian Jah-Man Aggrey, are a branch of world dance collective Le Cod Afrique, who play a cheerful combination of multicultural roots-pop. A welcome addition to the Southgate’s continuing mission to provide a diverse range of live music to Devizes; and a grand job they’re making of it!

With Aggrey’s bright, chatty vocals and bongos, and Lewis’s acoustic guitar picking, this promises to be something great and wholly different around these waters. They’ve done the festival scene from Womad and Glasto to the Montreux Jazz Festival & Glastonbury, and their acclaimed album “Legacy” has been much featured on BBC Radio 3 & BBC 6 Music.

Should be a good ‘un!

Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine

Daniel Jae Webb reports for Wiltshire 999s that the organiser of the house party, in Wick Lane, Devizes on Friday night, has been issued a £10,000 fine by Wiltshire Police, for ignoring a police warning.

Officers were called to the house and requested the party was be shut down in line with COVID-19 regulations, and claims their pleas were ignored. A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said, (which I’ve had to amend the basic grammar of, like a primary school teacher): “As we continue to navigate through the COVID pandemic, we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions and adhere to the regulations.”

“Despite a warning, the organiser allowed the gathering of 80-100 people to continue, which is in clear breach of the current restrictions. Which states that ‘no gathering of more than 30 people may take place indoors, which would constitute a rave, if it were outdoors; amplified music, at night and due to loudness, duration and time it would likely cause significant distress to locals.”

Partygoers were dispersed and the hefty fine was issued. It’s a substantial amount for anyone to digest, the website stated, “there is no discretion given to set a lower amount.” Job done police, story dusted and archived. In my opinion, though, I’m afraid it feels far from over and arguably raises a number of questions.

I feel impelled ask then, firstly, was it shut down for safety reasons, due to the pandemic, or as the Wiltshire Police spokesman clearly states here, “amplified music at night would likely cause significant distress to locals?”

I cannot help but agree in this era of the pandemic we all must consider the risks and act accordingly, but the environment must be attained for people to want to do this, and take action appropriately, rather than feel they are being forced by law. Yes, the organiser and everyone who attended was putting their own health and the health of others at risk, and were foolish to do so. And when the officers attempted to engage with the group, they should have taken heed. Yet they should have wanted to do this of their own free will.

The harder the law, the more likely the rebellion toward it, though it may be important for the law to be enforced, an unaffordable fine such as this is draconian. It’s likely to have an adverse effect from the youth, who understandably see their lives disrupted in the same manner as everyone else, yet with no clear indication of ideas are being pitched to support them.

We’re casting our children out into the riskiest easing of lockdown ruling since it began, by returning them to school and college, and though you may deem it necessary, can you not also see they must feel like lab rats?

From all ancient philosophies and all of history we see a continuous pattern; people wishing to gather and celebrate is ingrained in our psyche and culture. And let’s face it, the conservative ethos set to stamp out partying long before this pandemic.

The breakup of the trend of the free festival scene in the eighties, only constituted a bigger problem to attempt to outlaw, the raves in the nineties. Retrospective youth cultures we can reflect back on now, and realise and agree the occurrences of these events were not only ground-breaking for artistic progression, and memorable for the attendees, but in reality, harmless fun.

Regulating and eventual normalising of the Criminal Justice Bill, saw something far worse; a political and social rejection of society, and a fight between police and people; a disgruntled conflict.

The psychological effect of lockdown is only just beginning to be felt, as we venture away from it. You feel isolation for the elderly was difficult, how was it for our younger generation who, by the illusion of timespan, six months feels far longer? The need in younger people to party must be recognised, as I’d imagine older generations reflect upon their youth misdoings. Rather we’re stamping our authority around and closing individual cases with a pat on the back and a job well done. We should, as a society in the dawn of change, be considering how we can arrange and organise celebratory events and parties sensibly and safely.

We have managed to adopt and implement new systems for shopping, for eating out, travel, and all other activities older generations wish to engage in, we should now focus on ways to keep the younger satisfied too. I don’t profess to have the answers, but believe by thinking together, and frankly, giving a hoot about our entire population, we can work out methods to accomplish it. Furthermore, if ideas were suggested and implemented so parties could go ahead safely, the need and want to break the law will surely lessen.

Break up the party, yes indeed, as we’re far from out of the water, but chuck people a paddle. They need a release; they need party and celebrate now more than ever in these trying times. If not, issue 10k fines to all who break the regulations; every grandad who forgets and leans over you in a supermarket, every businessman internationally jetting around the world, anyone, I dunno, who felt like driving across the country during lockdown to visit a castle, perhaps?

The Lost Trades on Cloud 9

New song from our local purveyors of the perfect folk vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades. Out for another Bandcamp Day, today, Friday, where the website drops it’s fees and gives the artists 100% royalties; and darn it, if this isn’t worth a quid when it constitutes a mere quarter-cup of coffee from a posh café these days, I dunno what is.

The origin of the idiom, cloud nine is largely debated. Explanations relating the US Weather Bureau of the 1950s denoting fluffy cumulonimbus type clouds, or the penultimate stage of the progress to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva, are mostly debunked. But who needs a debate when you’re in a definite state of blissful contentment anyway?!

All you need know is this tune will land you on said cloud as if you were the monkey-god Sun Wukong on a mission. We are blessed with all the hallmarks of a Lost Trades signature tune; the calming tingle of xylophone, the gentle sway of acoustic guitar, the heavenly vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics to boot.

As Pink Floyd, around the Meddle era, after a bout of heavy space rock, when it suddenly drifts into thoughtful acoustic mega-bliss, this song just drifts akin, without need of heaviness, of Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps, meandering along a river on a gondola, thinking; hey man, let’s, like, sing; and it’s gorgeous, as we may’ve come to expect from this Trowbridge-Devizes trio. I wonder if we’re looking at a track from the highly anticipated album, yet, even if no, it’s the perfect display of progression for the newly-formed trio, who’s exceptional solo careers combine to create just as the title suggests; sitting on cloud nine.

With Tamsin advancing with her album, and Phil some way in front, teasing us with a cover design for his, titled Revelation, it’s clear the solo side projects will continue, but as a trio they bounce perfectly off each other, though it’s hardly a shove, more mooch.  Download it here.


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.

Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.

What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.

So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.

I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.

I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!

Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.

Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.

Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


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Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?

I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.

Jon Veale

Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)

As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”

I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


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Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

Spent a recent evening flicking through old zines I contributed cartoons to, relishing in my own nostalgia. Not egotistically admiring the artwork, or even laughing, rather cringe at most of it. More so because every publication has a backstory; where I was, what the hell I was up to, and thinking, if at all, at the time. It’s like Gran’s photo album, to me. But I guess reminiscing is symbolic of this pandemic year, nought else happening.

With that in mind, Bill Green of local self-titled Britpop trio Billy Green 3 has a great story to tell, ending with a retrospective release on the streaming platforms. He met Simon Hunt at a party, they liked each other’s jumpers, shared a love of music from the Beatles to the Stone Roses, and hung out on the guest list with Chester’s indie rock band, Mansun on their ’96 tour.

Billy’s mate John ‘Jimmy’ Burns “simply wanted to be in a band and dressed well.”  Never having played their instruments before, let alone in a band, one night they decided to form one with another of Billy’s friends, Mark Molloy. “We” Bill explained, “jumped about to ‘The Jam’ and had often spent nights drumming along on bars and tables.”

With Mark on drums, Simon on Vox, Jimmy on bass and Billy on guitar, Still was forming. Yet I guess Bill was reminiscing this foundation when deciding upon a name for his debut album as the trio, back in January, which we cordially reviewed, here.

“I’d written a few songs,” Bill continued, “so we set up second-hand instruments in Marston Village Hall, and banged out a few tunes, no covers mind.”  He had been DJing the ‘Vroom!’ Club, at the Corn Exchange. “Ian James was kind enough to put us on that Christmas and New Year’s, and people actually came to watch, a band was born.”

Still played the local circuit and even had a dalliance with Virgin Records, having spent a day travelling around London knocking on doors and dodging receptionists and PAs. They booked studio time with Pete Lamb’s studio in Potterne, followed by more studio time at Holt Studios, where a personnel change saw Andy Phillips join on drums and later, James Ennis on guitar.

As a five-piece they played into early 1999, before calling it a day and believing the recordings were lost. Simon Hunt recently unearthed the cassette, much to Bill’s delight, and the demos have been remastered “and tidied up a bit,” with the help of Danny Wise. Returned to Bill, who has enthusiastically released it as an album called Destruction at the beginning of the month. “And here they are,” he excitedly called, “as a permanent record of the biggest indie band ever from Devizes…. called Still!”

“I’m just shocked that Marston has, or had a village hall,” I expressed.

“Rubble when we finished playing!” Billy kidded, possibly.

These are raw demos, but brilliantly echo a time of yore when Britpop was in the making and a newfound generation of garage bands were spawning like a wart on the bottom of commercialised pop. What is great about this album, aside the backstory, is it represents all those early influences of the scene and mergers in a way we might today take for granted, but were, in essence, different scenes and youth cultures divided by decades, at the time. Yes, these may have been bought together by his more defined recent album, Still, but this is essential history for fans of that album, as it opens the casing and shows the very workings of it. Similarly, it works more generally than that, as an insight for fans of the genre.

For if influences of Britpop’s ‘big four’ are represented here, in the jaunty attitude of Blur, the maladroit studiousness of Pulp, the euphoric ballads of Oasis, and the brashness of Suede, there’s also arty punk rock and psychedelic reprises, like Elastica’s affection for Wire, even the Beatles.

There are echoes of Britpop inspirations, ‘Respect Now’ feels like it’s drawn from the genre’s eighties influences; the Jam, up to the Stone Roses. Yet tracks like ‘Happier Now’ ring drum-based upbeat riffs, but slating postpunk vocals, and the sobering drone of The Smiths. Whereas, ‘Pale Impression, Man’ is closer indie enthused from post-punk gothic, rather the end of the era anthems, like the track ‘Catch,’ which rings Suede or The Verve.

‘Lady Leisure’ just rocks, simple; this was produced at Pete Lamb’s, along with the other first bout of garage-style rock, ‘Happier Now’, and ‘Superstars,’ the latter savouring the sound of the Kinks. Perhaps the most poignant are two the love ballads, which along with ‘Catch’ were recorded at Holt. Bill informed me, “‘Gav4Saf’ was a fledging love song written for a friend’s wedding.” But the beautifully crafted ‘LoveSong’ is a missing piece of Oasis, and as a stand-out ballad is the only track rightfully to be reworked for Billy Green 3’s modern album Still. The finale is the title track, with a sublime rolling bass guitar, Who-like.

 “We hope there are some people who will listen and remember those heady days as fondly as we do,” Bill expressed, “it’s basically demos but such good memories!” It may help, but is not, I reckon, essential. I reason, quite regularly, that finding the early recordings of any artist is often more worthy than the celebrated later releases, when eagerness overrides rawness and economical recording sessions. They brought out the original enthusiasm, the roots to greatness. I favour ‘The Wild, Innocent and E-Street Shuffle’ rather than Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ for example. Even delve into bootlegs of Steel Mill, where despite the boss not being frontman, you can hear a distant echo of genius harking from the background. ‘Destruction’ is out now, as well as the single, ‘Catch,’ across the streaming sites, (Spotify) a notable antiquity of the local music scene.


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Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective Do What They Love, at The Southgate

He’s a fast learner, that Keanu Reeves; think how he progressed to “the chosen one” in little over an hour and half, while his superiors barely advanced at all; comes with the chosen one job, I suppose. Think cat scene, for example, where this novice presumed déjà vu, but twas a glitch in the Matrix.

Had a touch of déjà vu myself on Sunday, chatting with Essex’s Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective; alas I’m not the chosen one, until it’s time to do the washing up. Barefacedly had to check my own website, suspecting they’d been mentioned before. And I was right, Andy wrote a part-review back in July; I was briefly there too. Blame it on a glitch, rather than memory loss; this is 2020, glitches in the Matrix are abundant.

Regulars at the Southgate in Devizes, Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective are as the name suggests, but don’t do run of the mill. Cowboy hats and chequered shirts held a clue, but arrive excepting unadulterated county & western and you’ll get nipped. While there’re clear Americana influences, here’s an exclusive sound unafraid to experiment.

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Jamie’s abrasive vocals are gritty and resolute, perfect for this overall country-blues sound, but it progressively rocks like Springsteen or Petty, rather than attempts to banjo twang back to bluegrass. It also boundlessly exploits other folk and roots influences, with a plethora of instruments and expertise to merge them into this melting pot. And in this essence, they are an agreeable rock band, appealing to commonalities; but do it remarkably, with upbeat riffs, tested but original material, and passion.

Not forgoing, I still need to be careful, and it was but a whistle-stop to the Gate, to wet my whistle. As current live music restrictions being the way they are, it’s unfair to use a gig review as a base for an act’s entirety. For starters, they’re missing bassist Jake Milligan, and drums deemed too loud to bring, James “the hog” Bacon made do with a cajon and bongos. The remaining two, Jamie and Dave Milligan, cramped in the doorway of the skittle ally with acoustic and electric guitar, respectively. Which, in a way, proves this band’s aforementioned adaptability and desire to experiment. The proof is the pudding though, and battling through the restrictions of the era, they came up with a chef-d’oeuvre.

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Professionally, they scorched out a great sound nonetheless, mostly original, but a rather fitting Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, with Jamie’s grinding vocals apt for a later Dylan classic. But this downtempo cover was the exception to the rule, their originals upbeat and driving.

To pitch a fair review, though, is to take a listen to their latest album, Do What You Love. The cover of which is unlike your cliché Americana tribute too; highly graphical splashes of colour akin more to pop, or a branding of fizzy drink. The songs match, a popular formula of cleverly crafted nuggets intertwining these wide-spanning influences. One track they did live from their album was accompanied with an explanation the recorded version used a brass section and even a DJ scratching, yet they made do with Jake joining James for a hit on the bongos.

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They certainly enjoy what they do, and appear relaxed in the spotlight. This doesn’t make them tongue-in-cheek, like, say Californian Watsky & Mody, who blend hip hop into bluegrass for jokes. Rather Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective has evenly balanced said collective’s influences and conjured this celebrated, danceable and fun sound, flexible for a standard function, like a wedding party but would also liven up the day at a mini-festival.

As an album though it encompasses all I’ve said above, there’s cool tunes like Lazy Day, the orchestrated reprise If I met my Hero, and rather gorgeously executed ballad, Held in Your Glow, but also frenetic tunes, driving down the A12 with the windows open music, Red Hot and Raunchy being a grand, light-hearted example but I’m A Stone as my favourite, with its clever pastiches of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, it rocks.

You need not visit the Oracle, waiting with spoon-bending broods, Keanu Reeves, for her to tell you Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective are not some “chosen” livid teenagers trailblazing a new sound and striving for the spotlight, but a collective of passionate and talented musicians loving every minute of performing, and this comes across as highly entertaining.


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Hero Wayne Cherry Back in Action!

You may recall hero, Wayne Cherry of Rowde, standing for a hundred hours in remembrance at the top of the Brittox in Devizes during November 2018, to honour those lost in the First World War.

For this year’s 75th VE day celebrations, self-isolating never stopped Wayne, he pledged to stand in his garden for 75 hours, raising £1,272 for the NHS fund.

Now Wayne is back, and he has decided to raise funds for SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, for VJ Day in August by completing a 75-mile trek around the Devizes area.

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Under the banner, “Not Forgotten,” Wayne explains his reasoning, “treatment of allied prisoners of war by the hands of the Japanese army in Asia during WW2 was without question, barbaric. Those who survived struggled to come to terms with their experience and many would never talk about it. 15 August 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Asia and one that I shall be marking with respect.”

I asked Wayne how many days he planned to take over it. “I will have to start on Friday 7th,” he replied, “looking to average ten miles a day, which in reality is a push with a knee replacement and diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which is painful hips and shoulders.” The walk will end on Friday 14th August. “I just grit my teeth and get on with it,” he continued, “nothing compared to those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today.”

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Wayne will start his route each day leaving from Wadworths 10am. He will head towards the Market Place on Northgate St, through the Little Brittox, along the High St following Long St, to Southbroom Rd, and continuing onto Sidmouth St to Maryport St, through the Brittox, and back through the Little Brittox into the Market Place, up to Snuff St, along to New Park St and finally, heading back towards Wadworths. That’s approximately a 2-mile circuit, 5 times a day.

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“It would be very much appreciated,” Wayne expressed, “if anyone would like to accompany me for as little or as long as you wish, I will be carrying a collection bucket each day for anyone who may wish to make a donation.” Alternatively, if you join his Facebook group, here, you can follow and support him, and find bank details, if you would like to contribute this way.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Wayne the very best with his astounding effort, and congratulate him on the amazing fundraising he has done to date already. I know the people of Devizes and the surrounding area will rally to support him, as they have done in the past. Go Wayne Cherry, you are an inspiration to us all.


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Three Times Better; The Lost Trades @ The Southgate

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.

It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.

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Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.

It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.

In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.

Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.

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Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.

“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.

As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.

Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.

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Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale; what a great idea!

The pandemic has pulled us into a time of change for everyone, we find methods and ways around restrictions to try to continue, best we can, the way of life we’re used to living. Historically eras like these see great innovations and ideas which now have become commonplace. Online meetings through Zoom, drive-in concerts and many new-fangled concepts are falling into place, but sometimes, the best ideas are the simpler ones. Devizes resident Laura Johns had such an idea, the kind that if she was a cartoon character it would be represented by a lightbulb above the head!

Laura has created a Facebook group dedicated to holding a town-wide, community yard sale and intends to run the first one on Sunday August 16th, running from 8am-5pm. Anyone is free to host a yard sale in their garden or close green space on that date, and the group are hoping it’ll turn the town into a whopping great car booty, without the cars; kinder on the environment too, Laura!

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I reckon this is a great idea, and something which has the potential to be a regular event. Many of us undoubtedly have been having a clear-out during lockdown, made some home improvements, and now have “stuff,” for want of a better word, clogging up space in their homes. The obvious banning of car boot and jumble sales means you’re restricted to donating to charity shops, dumping them at the recycling centre if you get a slot, but selling via Facebook pages is the only way you’re going to make a little money back. Of course, you could hold a yard sale at any time, but with this clever scheme, we will all know when and where.

All participates are invited to set their own yard sale up, freely, and they will be included on a map of the town, so buyers are free to roam the town and browse. Last count, 16 people wish to set up their own yard sale, and more are joining. My work is done notifying you and hoping you’ll join in on the day, setting up your own, or browsing the yard sales on offer. Laura and the team hope to extend the idea to neighbouring villages, where an alternative day will be set for each village. Who knows how far this idea will catch on?

So, join the group for more information and updates as they develop, and support this ingeniously simple idea. Oh, and there’s a Facebook event page you can respond to; great if you wish to attend as a buyer but not participate in the selling part. I like it so much it’s my pleasure to donated a little poster/header for the group, and you can be sure Devizine will be supporting the event as best we can, provided there’s not too many pubs en-route!!


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Ben Borrill Takes A Little Time

Bobbing around the St John’s corner of Long Street, trying to act important, and sober, I had a message for Ben Borrill, Pete was looking for him, he was on next; ah, gave me something to do. It was the fantastic Devizes Street Festival, made that much more fantastic by Vinyl Realm organising a second stage, showcasing local talent. You must’ve heard about it, even if you weren’t there, I’ve harked on about it enough!

Mission accomplished, he was loitering the doorway, and equably replied with an “oh, okay.” There’s a casual air around Ben, perhaps the most altruistic and modest musician, and, oh, skateboarder too, on the local circuit. It was this way when I first met him during an acoustic jam at The Southgate. Yet there’s a magnetic sparkle when he performs, which captivates. Other than friendship, it’s probably the plausible reason he supports Daydream Runaways recurrently.

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I never held out for something recorded from Ben, content as he seems to roam the local circuit performing live, yet with the current climate surrounding gigs, time and effort is channelled into getting studio time down, for everyone. Sometimes this transmits the talents of a live performer, occasionally not, and I happily report it’s far from the latter.

Groovy, in a word; there’s something pleasantly sixties Merseybeat-come-beatnik about Ben Borrill’s debut single, Take a Little Time; not in a tacky tribute kind of cliché but in a nonchalant, progressive way. Particularly in the intro, the reference of seasonal change, shifting leaves and blossom of a fading spring, balances into romantic ditty, and spanning just over two minutes too; it’s short but sweet.

While it doesn’t go off down a completely psychedelic sixties formula, it’s no Mammas & Papas, the riffs do lean heavily on all that’s golden about that golden era, of Kinks or Hollies, with a fresh tinge of modern acoustic. Here’s a smooth ride into an intelligently grafted, but easy-going song, reflecting Ben’s charismatic and breezy attitude. It is, blinking marvellous, and leaves you yearning for more… jump to it Ben, equably I’d imagine he would reply with an “oh, okay!” Spotify link here.


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Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction

So, Devizine exists to highlight and promote local events and I try my best, apart from the odd bit of cheeky satire, to steer away from political matters. Yet I’m both heartbroken and at a loss for words this afternoon, chatting online to Pewsey mum, Tanya Borg. But within it, there is an event I need to let you know about, in this horrid mess, please read on….

Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.

Red tape between the Crown Prosecution Service and Wiltshire Police has prevented further action from being taken, and under advice of the CPS, Wiltshire Police have closed the case. “The CPS are saying they don’t tell the police what to do,” Tanya explained, “But Wiltshire Police are saying the CPS don’t want to take the case.” I cannot imagine how distraught she must be. “You have no idea,” Tanya continued, “Angry. Frustrated. Sad. My daughters need help.”

In fear for the treatment of her daughters, Tanya went to explain how, after a court order for joint custody, their grandmother wouldn’t allow them to leave the house, so Tanya tried for full custody, but they ran away with the children. Angel is now twenty, and Maya just eight. A Daily Mail article exposes the issue, with a video of the father’s family driving them away. It is with hope the video will pressure British authorities to reopen the case.

This is where I asked if Tanya had or has any further contact with them, and the short answer was “no.” In England we complain about this, whinge about that, the bus being delayed etc, we really don’t understand how life is in Libya. “Because there is no authorities inside Libya, due to the situation, as Libya is at war with itself,” Tanya detailed, “it is dangerous, and that is their excuse, but now there has been a newly elected government, they could at least try, that is what is most upsetting, they haven’t even tried. I feel like my children don’t matter, because I am not of status.”

Firstly, Tanya has a GoFundMe campaign page, where you can contribute. “It’s a corrupt country, and money talks,” she explains, “I can’t do anything without it.” Tanya has spoken to Claire Perry, who passed it onto the Minister of the African Department, “which say,” Tanya claimed, “They cannot do anything.” MP Danny Kruger has been emailed, which was my first port-of-call, and we await a response.

Tanya plans to take a protest to Downing Street on the 8th August, but has also staged an event in Pewsey on the 25th July. Meeting at the Cooper’s Arms at 3pm, the protest will follow the eminent carnival route. “My eldest daughter,” Tanya explained, “was carnival princess back in 2011.” They will be chanting “Free Angel and Maya,” but ask protesters observe social distancing and wear facemasks. “I would love as many people to attend and support,” she hopes, “to help me bring my babies home.” Tanya will also be organising a local coach for the Downing Street protest.

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Sam Bishop and the Fallen Sky

Ex-Devizes boyband and half of Larkin, Sam Bishop is away studying music in Winchester. He posts about his latest single, Fallen Sky with the thought, “I really do think this is the best song I’ve ever made.” You do always say that, Sam, tee-hee, but it’s no bad thing! I think it was legendary underground cartoonist, Hunt Emerson, who once told me, “never put anything out you’re not confident to say it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.” It suggests Sam is always striving for better, but the proof is the pudding, and this is a Michelin star sundae. Yeah, I believe you’re deffo right with this one.

It’s got that dark, moody ambience, backed with a deep bassline, sonic piano and ticking drumbeats, as if William Orbit took boyband to dubstep. This compliments Sam’s humming vocals to a tee, as it characterises dejected teenage anguish and echoes the passion in early romantic interactions. While it’s a bromide subject at the best of times, Sam rests on it well, as was a time when we wanted Phil Collins to have a broken heart, so his reflection on it would be so powerfully crushing and relevant to our own life!

I feel old ears will nod in memory, but Sam’s defining style speaks volumes to younger generations. This is heartfelt stuff, as ever with Sam, but this time, in particular, the production on Fallen Sky envelopes that atmosphere so brilliantly.

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You know what I’d like to hear? And call me old-fashioned if you will, I’ve been called worse, but I’d like an amalgamation of songs filling a complete narrative, as the parable ends like an open-ended short story, leaving you wondering the next decision Sam’s character in the song will take. Like a chick-flick plot, he sings, “does it feel like it’s the end of our lives?” While this is great, I’m left yearning to know if they get back together or not, so, just a suggestion, but an intertwined set of songs spanning a complete fictional relationship, like, dare I say it, a concept album. This may not be the modern way to go with distribution I know, but here is Sam Bishop at his best, and a development worthwhile expanding.

Yeah, alright, I hear you, I’m old, yeah, thanks a million! Check this Fallen Sky out here.


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Talk in Code Taste the Sun

Back in January 2019, I was dead impressed with Talk in Code’s debut album Resolve, and labelled it “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle.” I offered the track “Oxygen,” as best example of how, like classic pop anthems should, its instantaneous catchiness gets stuck in your head. To compare and contrast that favourite from the album with the upcoming release from this Swindon indie-pop four-piece, it’s clear they’ve come an incredibly long way to enhancing and refining that fashion.

Reflecting back, Resolve has the definite “indie” sound of the nineties, only dipping a toe in the pool of eighties synth-pop. I felt this coming, each track they release sounds more like an iconic mid-eighties sugary hit, and Taste the Sun dives right in. It supplements my “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle” label much more.

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Recorded just before lockdown at Studio 91 in Newbury, the band define the theme as “about waking up and smelling the coffee, a feeling that change is coming and the relief when that change is made for the greater good.” Nothing wrong with that inspiring concept, but perhaps nothing original; writing style they stick to a model template, but the sound is invigorating. In a word, it’s refreshing, like the zest of a sparkling iced fruit drink on a humid holiday afternoon, it encompasses all that is glorious about pop. Blooming with good time, summery vibes, Taste the Sun is the sort of lively “Wham” anthem a younger you would’ve retained from a holiday camp disco, and evermore evoke a fond memory of a fleeting romance.

That said in the best manner possible. Talk in Code is a well-oiled machine, refining that classic sound for a new generation and, most importantly, extracting and binning any cliché or cringeworthy elements. You know the sort, listen to any eighties pop now and wince at a particularly ill-thought out component, be it a castoff sample, badly grafted rap or, worse still, a “talky” part; “I thought I told you, Michael, I’m a lover not a fighter!”

Yet I find similar with today’s pop, and hold my daughter accountable! “Why they doing that bit?” I grumpily whinge. “What bit?” she retorts. It’s like a repetitive synthesised single word, or randomly placed high-hat making me shudder. Talk in Code use the acuteness of “indie” to eliminate said pop crime, use pop for catchiness and throw something back at you with universal appeal. It’s true, I concern myself at the prospect of taking my daughter to a pop festival, be it I’m cowering at her modern taste, or she’s dragging me away from something I like the sound of. Talk in Code is something we could both agree is great, and throughout reviewing their singles, Taste the Summer is perhaps the prime example of this notion.

Released on Monday 27th July, on digital download at http://www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms. Go on, you have a listen, and I challenge you to find something bad to say about this sparkling, uplifting nugget of pop; because I can’t!


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Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently

I am listing local restaurants, cafes and pubs who are participating in the “eat out to help out,” scheme and encourage owners in the Wiltshire area to contact Devizine, to be listed freely. Although you know me, have to have a little rant beforehand, so scroll past my waffling if you wish to get direct to the list! Note the list will be updated, so check back in August.

For information on how to apply for the scheme, see here. Note the scheme comes with restrictions. Only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from the 3rd to 31st August 2020, and offers a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

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“I believe I dust my broom.” Robert Johnson sung that, the bluesman who sold his soul to the devil at the Mississippi Delta crossroads, in exchange for faultless musical flair, so he must know what he’s on about. Although, to dust your broom actually means to make change, derived from the expression “get up and dust,” or get out of town fast. I didn’t need to do that, just get out of B&Q!

Had my old outdoor broom for decades, but timeworn, it finally gave up the ghost. Sunday, I nipped into B&Q and returned home proud owner of a new broom with a screw-on handle. Too loose, one swipe and the head fell off, tighten it and it passes the thread and…. the head falls off. Time passed and my patience caved by numerous attempts to secure the handle on the head. I came to the forgone conclusion, it’s either fate; star alignment’s fault, since NASA claims I’ve moved from Pieces to Aquarius, or, more likely, it’s mass-produced shite.

After hand sanitising, queuing and following the one-way circuit around the entire store, I returned it, swung into town, parked dead outside Mainleys and picked up a far cheaper, better broom. By very design, glued and stapled, it’s old-fashioned, but a coupling method which has worked for centuries. If it’s not broke…. A lesson learned, then; should’ve shopped local.

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Make no mistake, I consider this soundbite “eat out to help out” nauseatingly haughty, coming from a government who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide basic meals for school children. Guaranteed, this is yet another move to line the pockets of big business, the mass-producing restaurant chains.

Never forget Boris’s bum-chum, Tim Martin and how he refused to close during lockdown, refused to pay his staff and suppliers. If a Frankie & Benny branch sadly closes, the staff will be the only ones to suffer; that’s sorrowful reality, I’m afraid. Note the variety you think you’re getting with a parade of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitito, et all, is false, they’re all the same company and will subside each other; different sauce, same old chicken, pal. If the government are going to open taxpayer’s wallets, I urge the small business and independent eateries, who would otherwise close, lock, stock and barrel, to dip in before the fat cats.

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Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the rubber chicken which bounced off the floor of Wetherspoons first hand, lost teeth on Hungry Horse waffles, and felt famished twenty seconds after eating an air-pumped big mac. Like my broom experience, I’m at my tether’s end; best to shop local.

Not that I’m trying to persuade you, the choice to eat out is your prerogative and risk; many pubs and restaurants are continuing to provide takeaway services, many established takeaways are delivering and continuing to provide an excellent service too. Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to eat out, remember your mask. If you can, here’s a list, then, of local places participating in the 50% off “eat out to help out” scheme; let’s support them.


If you missed my social media requests for participating places to be included, do not worry, I can update this if you twist my arm with some love…. and remember the best way to a man’s heart! Ah, insert laughing emoji here; only kidding, cheeky blagger that I am. Just message me and I’ll get your café or restaurant added! Do take heed though, while we’re here, overflowing with banter, our foodie reviews are the most popular articles, and we’d love to do one for you.

You can find more participating eateries via postcode search on the Gov site here.  


Devizes

Massimo’s Ristorante

For twenty-seven years Francos was the finest Italian restaurant in Devizes, but with the departure of Sicilian chef, Massimo Pipitone things were never quite the same. Two years ago, Massimo returned to Old Swan Yard to recapture the restaurant’s reputation and with a name change, has succeeded in putting it back on top. Still operating the takeaway service, it begun during lockdown, they’ve now reopened the restaurant, excellently observing social distancing regulations. They serve traditional Italian and Sicilian cuisine, and the pizzas are awesome!

Take it from me, one who loves his tucker, you will not find better service, quality and tastier food this side of Roma!  Booking at weekends is essential. 

The Pelican:

Splendid inn situated at the Market Place, known best for its roast dinners, which can be takeaway too. The Pelican have various cuisine events and has a scrumptious bar menu. An example from this weekend’s roast option:  Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Chicken is always an alternative every week with a beautiful Home-Made Vegetarian Option. Vegan or Gluten Free diets also catered for with advance booking. £8.95 per person, £5.95 per child, £4.50 per Home Made Dessert. Please telephone 01380 723909 to book.

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New Society:

Sitting somewhere between glorious pub grub and restaurant, New Society in the Market Place was quickly established as one of our best eateries. Our review last September has always been one of our highest hitting articles, and they were glad to announce reopening on 3rd July. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, or perhaps a coffee stop, New Society is a comfortable setting and serves a large selection.  Operating usual daytime opening hours, but currently evenings are restricted to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is advisable to pre-book for these nights (01380 722288).

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1Spice

One of the newer establishments, it did not take long for 1 Spice in Maryport Street to earn the jewel in the crown of Indian restaurants in Devizes, and rightly so. It’s my chosen place for a knees-under, and is often cited top of majorities’ list. Conventionally, Indian restaurants convey an aptitude of exceptional customer service and etiquette, and 1Spice is of no exception. Expect to be welcomed, but what is more, expect a wide and gorgeous selection, mixing the flavours and spices of India with the finest seasonal ingredients the West Country can offer. It’s driving my appetite for a Ruby just typing this, and I’ve had my dinner already!

The Hourglass:

Tucked away at Devizes Marina, the Hourglass is a perfect location and serves a high-quality pub menu. Options have been restricted since reopening on 4th July, but expanding now, and takeaway service is available. Booking is advisable for food. Subject to change, opening hours are 11am-9pm every day, with food served between 5-8pm, Thursdays through to Sundays. Book online here.

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Tea Inc

A cup of Rosy-Lee for me, I’m not a coffee guy. Still, I’ve not been in Tea Inc in the Ginnel (just off the Market Place) and now in Marlborough, sovereign of tearoom towns. This must change, I’m coming for you guys, ensure you have some custard creams! This humble teashop throws off the doily and delicate fingertip-cup-hold stereotype of tea rooms and prides itself with an eclectic, quirky environment they affectionately call “The Shoppe.”

Serving crumpets (fnarr, yurkk, yurkk) sandwiches, salads and soup, this could just be the essential shopping stop-off for tea drinkers; get away from me with your X-L vanilla Nespresso dripping down your MacBook!

Times Square

Central to Devizes Market Place, Times Square is simply the perfect little coffee shop for a light lunch. Cakes and ice cream, say no more. As the name suggests it may have started by being inspired by American cuisine, yet only in the best possible taste. Times Square is no stranger to hosting the odd event, and is a welcomed shopping stop off.

  Brogans Café

Brogans Café in the Brittox is one I confess I’ve yet to try. Outside space, ice cream, cakes and milkshakes and smoothies, Brogans prides itself on its vegan options. “Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake” as pictured below, might just twist my arm!

Bengal Bite

Throughout my years here in Devizes, Bengal Bite in Sheep Street has always been the tandoori kitchen of choice. The Bengal Bite offers contemporary Indian and Bangladeshi food. It’s comfy and hospitable, a romantic place to woe a prospective love with a mild Korma, or equally a place for you and the lads to blow your pants off with a blistering Vindaloo! The Bengal Bite has been voted the best restaurant in Wiltshire by the readers of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, and 2014 finalist for Small Business of the Year in the Wiltshire Business Awards.

The Fox & Hound

A little out of town but worth the trek down Nursteed Road, The Fox & Hound is an inviting family pub, offering romantic carriage rides followed by lunch or candle-lit dinner, and successful horse-drawn ghost and historical tours of Devizes start and finish at the Fox.

Jeffersons

The most down-to-earth café you’ll find in Devizes, this is Monday Market Street’s gem; great service, gorgeous homecooked breakfasts and lunches at affordable prices, never had a bad fry-up there yet!

The Bell on the Green

Always a favourite for the location in its title, The Bell has reopened with times and obvious restrictions. Here’s their menu….

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Coffee Etc:

Marvellous little coffee shop in Lamb Yard, just off Kingston Road, serving hot and cold beverages, breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas with great homemade cakes, and vinyl records too. Comfy hideaway this place, perfect for a stop-off when strolling town. I reviewed it a long time ago for Index:Wiltshire, but the site has been taken down now, so you’ll have to take my word for it! Facebook page here.

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Jamie at The Southgate; first live music review for a while!

Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Even if, it’s pathetic to lose your shit over the lessening of restrictions and go on an all-out bonkers spree of drunken foolishness, playing into the media’s hands creating a drama from a crisis. It is understandable isolated folk fear the idea of venturing to pubs when carefully selected images of hordes of pissheads scrapping outside some chavvy chain bar are spread across social media, just as a few weeks ago a trip to the beach would’ve been scorned at.

For me, a relative good, aging boy, who’s been looking forward to the prospect of an unpretentious pint down the Southgate all morning at work, to return home and regrettably check Facebook to notice a local post claiming sixty-plus youths were last night causing havoc in town, and extend the horror to hear similar events occurred in the Sham too, it’s discouraging. Will I be held up as a hooligan, because I desire life to return to a time when going to the pub was normality?

It’s a matter of being selective. If it was up to me, I’d encourage a mass boycott of Bojo’s philistine bum-chum, Tim Martin’s shamelessly uncultured shithouses, but each to their own. They lead by example, a bad one. If you want to pour your hard-earned pounds into the pocket of this billionaire who treated his staff with such utter disrespect, perhaps you’re the kind of insensible sociopath who enjoys a punch-up. Not me, I went to the Southgate for an afternoon pint and report back a decidedly lack of hooliganism from rampaging shirtless knob-jockeys; don’t believe the hype.

Going to this pub was safer than shopping, and the delightful experience it always was, if not more being it’s been a while.

I actually got what I anticipated all along; a warm welcome, orderly queuing for the bar, a bottle or two of hand sanitiser and a slight gathering observing social distancing, able to contain their excitement at being let off their leash. But what is more, some breezy live music; what I’ve been holding out for. Yay! I’m not writing to slag off some corporate monopoly, but wanted to compare and contrast, plus get the rant off my chest. Rather it is, our first live music review for seemingly eons, and who better to grace the step of the Southgate’s garden than Jamie R Hawkins? Okay, I know I’m asking too many questions in this piece, but that was rhetorical.

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Perched in the doorway of the skittle alley, slighter of beard and longer of locks, Jamie was every bit the icing on the cake. Predictable, could be said, but welcoming to see the many faces admiring over his ambiance of acoustic goodness. In faith too, of the gradual phase-in for live music, the session wasn’t intended to be long; just a few songs from 4-6pm. Enough though to get a taste, and Jamie looked to be enjoying it as much as the crowd.

There were some new ones, Walking into Doors (?) one I arrived for, one perhaps called “Speechless.” Jamie did one cover, Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecelia, and went through some of his benchmarks, the wonderful Capacity to Change, the remarkably sentimental Not Going Anywhere, and being it was a family affair, the ukulele-driven “Welcome to the Family,” aimed at his restless toddler in her pushchair. Yes, an intimate setting, but with words crafted so beautifully and perceptible as Jamie’s, one cannot see the relevance in your own life.

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It was also a notable notion that Jamie was the last person to perform at our splendid Southgate, prior to the lockdown, so fitting he set the ball rolling in reopening. Though, with the unification with Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin as The Lost Trades, a band formed in just enough time to play a debut, Jamie and the gang are really gathering acclaim further afield. They are promised at the Gate, but again, we have to be patience; this was a teaser under certain restrictions. A band, a late night outside may not be feasible for this humbling pub, yet, but time will tell.

Here then, was a lovely teaser afternoon, and proof above all media hype surrounding this ease of restrictions, that it can be done sensibly and responsibly, and the Southgate is on top of the movement towards normality; when it does, it’ll be something wonderful. Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Not really, it’s always been this good.


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NervEndings For The People

More clout than Ocean Colour Scene I’d expected after hearing frontman Mike Barham’s prior thrashing solo releases and drummer Luke Bartels previous band, but more roaring blues than Reef was an angle I didn’t see coming when I first checked our local purveyors of loud, NervEndings.

We’re countless gigs in now, the band, with bassist and secondary vocalist Rob McKelvey, still tight and raucous. I’m glad there’s a six-track album doing the rounds on the streaming sites, as by way of a meanderingly drunken tête-à-tête with Luke down the Gate, an album in the pipeline was one of the random topics breezed over, but so was the debatable aggression levels between Welsh and English badgers too, so I only held hope it’d see the light!

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“For The People”they’re calling it, then, out last week. It’s got the kick I now predicted, with that surprising blues element to boot, particularly in the opening track, Infectious Groove. Yet the Muddy Puddles single we’ve reviewed in the past follows, and sets the ball really rolling; it takes no prisoners, yet, for its catchiness, contains a slither of something very sixties; imagine pre-Zeppelin metal.

Emo, to audaciously use an unfamiliar genre, I’d best describe Colour Blind; smoother, drifting indie rock. And in that, Fighting Medicine is more as I’d supposed, guitar riff rocking like a driving song and Mike’s brainy lyrics, with added profanity to describe the drunken hooligan spoiling for a rumble. You know the bloke, there’s always one.

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With themes of non-pretentious indie, Chin up continues this ethos, forget the attempts to conform to expectances, it’s a be-yourself song. Best, in my humble opinion, though, is Dark Dance; as it says on the tin, teetering on crashing punk, it’s upbeat and danceable, in a throwing-your-head mosh-pit kind of way, which isn’t my way, usually, but it reaches a bridge of mellow romance-themed splendour. Here’s Jimi Hendrix covering Blur’s Song Two, as the blues is retained in all these contemporary rock tunes, and for a dude indifferent to the cliché indie sound, it works on my level too.

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Nicely done, and, double-whammy, Mike has forced upon me this streaming inclination which defies all my generation stood for when collecting music. Our parents called us by name when shouting up the stairs to turn the music down, not “Alexa!” Ah, it needed to be done and I’m grateful, in a sense. “Send me a download or something,” I pleaded, “I don’t understand this Spotty-Fly thing!” But it only met with the reply, “it’s on all the streaming sites….” I’m of the generation who tried to turn over the first CD they got, to listen to the B-side, and only just got the hang of downloading. Now I’m causally informed downloading’s sooo millennial.

I dunno, all moving too fast it; seems so unphysical, not to have a record collection, rather a playlist. You can’t skin up on a Deezer playlist. At least downloading had a file, nearer, somewhat, to owning a record. But I’ve persevered and found the Spotify app on my PC more user friendly; I didn’t harass my daughter for assistance once, as I regularly do with the phone.

So, cheers, Mike. Hopefully this will help me surpass the “noob” label my son has tied to me, which, I’m told is a word for both a novice and an insult in one. Honestly, I feel like my grandad, who, when he came over once, stood staring at our new LCD television and asked, “where’s your tele?!” For the People needs to include the older people too, as I reckon many would either love it, or give this trio a ruddy good clip around the ear, which is maybe what they deserve for being so damn good; they’d have me talking emoji next.


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Jon Amor is Cooking

Last time I saw Jon Amor he was queuing for Sainsburys. Sign of the times I suppose, would’ve much preferred to say we were in a pub or hall, and Jon was doing his thing. Capers, was what, he explained, he went in for. Those Mediterranean pickled berries, I figured; Jon is as epicure with his tucker as he is with his music. A new single, Peppercorn, expands the hypothesis; he’s cooking alright.

A contemporary blues performer with an established diverse repertoire, I was surprised upon reviewing his 2018 album, Colour in the Sky, of a distinctive and quirky fashion akin to late-seventies pop-rock in the more beguiling tracks; a drainpipe-suited Elvis Costello, of type, and songs as good to match. I’m thinking of the tracks Red Telephone and Illuminous Girl in particular, they don’t follow the archetypical modern bluesman manner, they’re upbeat, zany and define a certain panache emerging with Jon. I’m pleased to say Peppercorn doesn’t just correspond with this notion, but expands upon it.

Accompanied by video of crazy antics around his home, presumably recorded over his many entertaining lockdown live streams, with not only a rather perfected Ministry of Silly Walks tribute in snappy blue winkle-pickers, but an amusing puppet sequence to scream Sledgehammer at you. This is a quirky, catchy little tongue-in-cheek number. From Shanks & Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate to, more appropriately, The Soul Leaders’ boss reggae classic, Pour on the Sauce, food innuendo is no new thing in music; Louis Jordan nailed it in the thirties. Still with his demarcated and inimitable stylishness, here’s Jon’s own take on it.

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With a little slide-guitar intro, after thirty seconds it’s having it; immediately enticing and definingly why Jon Amor sets the local live music bar high. Though he is, the hybrid between man-about-Devizes-town and blues legend. At a quid from Bandcamp, this shiny example of why is a winning dish.


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A Cracked Machine at the Gates of Keras

Don my headphones, chillax with a cider, and prepare my eardrums for a new album from our local purveyors of space-rock goodness; Cracked Machine is a wild ride….

There are few occasions when mellowed music truly suspends me in the moment, when it just exists in the air like oxygen and totally incarcerates and engulfs my psyche. Jah Shaka and ambient house rascals the Orb both achieved this a couple of dusks at Glastonbury, but the same with likewise happenings, I confess I was intoxicated on matter maturity caused me to long leave in my past!

The issue for any reborn psychedelic-head is pondering the notion, will it ever be the same again, will music and art tease my perception to quite the same degree. The sorry answer is no, unless your intransigent mate slips something in your drink. Yet it’s not all despair, with a sound as rich and absorbing as Cracked Machine, it’s doable without drugtaking shenanigans.

They proved this at the most fantastic day in Devizes last year, which was that bit more fantastic, when what was intended to be a bolt-on feature became the highlight of DOCA’s Street Festival. Funded and arranged by Pete and Jacki of Vinyl Realm, the second stage highlighted everything positive about local music; a historic occasion we’ll be harking on for some time yet. I nipped away briefly after Daydream Runaways stole the early part of the day. But where the lively indie-pop newcomers had roused the audience, I returned to witness a hypnotised crowd and a mesmerising ambience distilling the blistering summer air. Smalltalk was numbed, as if the area was suspended in time. A doubletake to confirm we were still perpendicular, sitting in deckchairs or slouching against a wall on the corner of Long Street and St Johns and not slipped through a time vortex to a Hawkwind set at a 1970 free-party love-in. I was beyond mesmerised, but not surprised.

For this is how it was with their impressive 2017 debut album, I, Cosmonaut, the soundscapes just drifted through me, as I causally drafted the review, reminding me of a smoky haze of yore, giggling in a mate’s bedroom, listening to Hawkwind’s Masters of Universe. Youth of my era though, were subjected to electronic transformation in music, which would soon engulf us. Rave culture cut our space-rock honeymoon short, though, Spaceman 3 were a precursor to the ambient house movement of the Orb, Aphex Twin and KLF, others changed their style, like Frome’s Ozric Tentacles merging into Eat Static, and a perpetually changing line-up for Hawkwind appeased the older rock diehards.

I love I, Cosmonaut, it manages to subtly borrow from electronica and trance, only enough to make it contemporary, but keep it from being classed as anything else other than space-rock. I felt their second album, The Call of the Void avoided this slice of Tangerine Dream, and submerged itself totally in the hard rock edge; bloody headbangers! Therefore, it’s a refreshing notion to note newly released Gates of Keras bonds the two albums and sits between them perfectly.

Again, there’s little to scrutinise as it rarely changes, it meanders, trundles me to a world beyond wordplay, as these completely instrumental tracks roll into one another, gorgeously. A Deep Purple styled heavy bass guitar may kick it off, yet the opening track Cold Iron Light takes me to the flipside of Floyd’s Meddle, with seven and half minutes of crashing drums and rolling guitar riffs. Temple of Zaum continues on theme, Ozrics-inspired funkier bassline, and we’re off on the drifting journey, splicing subtle influences. The Woods Demon, for example, stands out for particularly smooth almost Latino guitar riff, making it my personal fave. Yet Move 37 is heavier, upbeat, like the second album. Low Winter Sun is sublime blues-inspired, imagine Led Zeppelin created Satisfaction rather than the Stones, if you will.

Recorded back in November, this is eight lengthy soundscapes of pure bliss, and will guarantee you a safe trip. A signature album for a lonely lockdown of dark, yet emersed in a time of Tolkien-esque vibes and mandelbrot set fractal posters. If this was released in the mid-seventies-to early-eighties every spotty teenager would be inking their army surplus school bag with a biro-version of Cracked Machine’s logo. As it is, age taking its toll and all, I have no idea if this still happens, but doubt it. None of that matters, here is a matured era of the genre, only with a glimpse of how it once was. Nicely done.

Brownie Dad in the Ring!

Yay, happy Father’s Day, Dads, we are number one, so why try harder?!

Received a photo-card from my son of my good self proudly showing off my moobs, and my daughter got me a fit-watch thingy to measure my steps, heart rate and all of that malarkey; a smidgen suspicious they’re trying to tell me something. Yet, by way of a complete turnaround, I’ve also bagged myself a box of brownies from the Gourmet Brownie Kitchen in Poulshot and now I’m staring at my fit-watch, eagerly awaiting brownie o’clock to come….

…. hold on…. Yeah, oh, mmmm, nice, yeah baby; these are the kiddy! I rest my case. Take this as my specialised technical food review; who do I look like, Mary Berry?

Now the deed is done. Amazingly, I did twenty-six steps going to the kitchen to get the brownies! It was worth the effort though, probably worth it if my kitchen was located on top of Mount Etna. Cos, like, cakes have trends, don’t they? A year or so ago it was all cup cakes this and cup cakes that; all in the icing and fancy decoration. Don’t get me wrong, nothing against the cup cake, but brownies are the new top dog, all the fancy ornamental stuff and icing begone, simple, stodgy little blessings they are, those brownies. Though, there was a variety in the box, particularly standing out visually was the fudge one with marshmallows and covered in white chocolate. I couldn’t single any out though, for all their subtle differences, I loved them all with impartiality and equality!

I tried my hand at baking them once upon a time, bought a tray especially, but they came out like squares of chocolate sponge a six-year old might make.

What’s the secret in making those beauties stodgy and so utterly gorgeous? I don’t know, put a book on them like pressed flowers? Ah, I don’t need Google, I don’t need to know, really. Jodie Perkins knows, might well be her secret, and that’s good enough; leave the brownie-making to the experts. I’m only professional in the eating part and telling you, because I know a good brownie when I taste a good brownie, and the brownies at The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen are somewhere between a brownie paradise and brownie heaven; about halfway.

Jodie founded the business in 2013 and in June last year she opened her shop at the Poulshot Lodge, which is a double-whammy as I picked myself up some wicked ribeye steaks while I was there! Now she’s shipping these beauties out nationally. Jodie makes cakes for celebrations, she offers vegan and gluten-free options, and she has a website for orders, you don’t need to wait for the next Father’s Day; any day should be a brownie day.

Virtuous Violence of a Clock Radio

If the name Clock Radio suggests an irritating box by your bed you simply want to lunge at in the morning, the casual “Talking Heads” fashion of local purveyors of self-proclaimed “deluded jangle rock,” entice no such violent action; they’re smooth and arty. Though, ironically describe themselves as “easily triggered, dishonest, cryptic yet flirty,” and violence is likely the disingenuous subject of a new tune, virtuously. Talking Heads though, Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?

Idiosyncratic irony and intellectual self-satire, isn’t it? Regulars at Devizes Southgate, Clock Radio threw their retrospective namesake to the wind a year ago, and joined the download generation, as far as distributing their wares. “Throw out your vinyl grandad,” they call ageistly called to order, “Clock Radio just went digital!”

Their enigmatic sound though is much the same proficient “new wave” formula you’ll hear live; if it ain’t broke. They brand themselves through posters using snippets from cringeworthy seventies catalogues or Gilliam’s Python animation-styled images; all very pop art. Their sound reflects such an epoch, so such ageist jests can be nothing more than the elemental tongue-in-cheek bravura which will aptly see them billed alongside Calne’s Real Cheesemakers.

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Out this week,“Virtuous Violence” is their fifth virtual release, following two singles and two EPs. With a spooky clocktower chime introduction, a gothic guitar riff flows through this otherwise poetic and smooth tune. It’s melodic retrospective post-punk goodness, would be avant-garde if appropriated its era. Yet if that Brian-Eno-slipping-on-The-Pixies kind of causal and breezy ambience is the fashion Clock Radio seek through their previously releases, they’ve nailed it with this one.

For while I’ll flitter with the genre, a tune has to “pop,” for me to take hold of it, and Virtuous Violence transcends the boundaries of their previous releases for catchiness and in capturing the imagination. Don’t run away with the notion they achieved this with the ease of synth-pop, for that’s an element of new wave they steer away from, keeping it traditionally analogue. No, this is just, well, nice on the ears. Another one for post-lockdown “must do” hitlist.


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Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities

We were all saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Cllr. Andy Johnson, the newly elected Town Mayor of Devizes, on the evening of 25th May, only ten days into his term of office.

Many people across the Town have already paid tribute to his kindness and generosity as both a neighbour and a worker for local charities.

One of the traditions of the Mayors of Devizes is to use their term of office to raise funds for charities which support the people of the Town. Andy had chosen three deserving charities to support, the Devizes Foodbank, Devizes Opportunity Centre, and the new St James Centre, but his untimely death occurred before he was able to turn that intention into reality.

Please join us in making a donation to this appeal, set up in Andy’s name, to raise much needed funds for his chosen charities in his memory. The Covid-19 crisis has affected all charities, but has been a particular blow for smaller, local, groups whose income has dropped substantially now that “lockdown” has prevented their normal fund raising activities from taking place. The need for their services remains as great, so many are in real crisis. Your contribution will not only allow you to honour the memory of a dedicated supporter of our local community, but will make a real difference to the lives of people within Devizes

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mayorandyjohnson thank you!

Father’s Day; Keeping Ideas Local

Whether he’s sofa slouching with his one hand down his pants the other clasping a beer, watching classic Euro finals and yelping like it’s happening now, or digging up weeds in the garden, proudly displaying his builder’s butt, don’t forget your Dad this Father’s Day…..

ON SUNDAY! I confess, I did one year, and live to regret it now he’s gone; insert sad emoji. Though it’s a man-thing for banter to ride over showing our emotion, if you’re not a dad yourself you’re excused for thinking it’s all a commercial con and your dad doesn’t want the attention, and all they did, after all, was the naughty bit. You are wrong though, I’m afraid. It does mean a lot to those dadas and father figures, believe me.

Remember we live to embarrass you in public, that’s why we have those sandals and oversized khaki shorts, but we do it because we care! So, you’ve a few more days to get it together, shops are reopening, I urge you keep it local, but what can you do to show him, through all his faults, you love and respect that balding misunderstood numpty?! Here’s some ideas….


Cards and Gifts!

Yep, easy one, innit? Top of the list though. Keeping it local, nip down the High Street, Devizes, and find Expressions Card Shop. They have reopened, and have all the cards, balloons and gifts you could ever want to shower your pops with.

Another cool place to check out, antiques and vintage shop Ele’s Emporium in Seend, they suggest some homemade beer coasters which would save your mum having to moan at him for beer rings on her bespoke coffee table; you know he’ll try to blame it on you otherwise!

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Or make something yourself, the Wiltshire Scrapstore & Resource Centre  have everything the creative need to construct something truly unique. The scrapstore is a wonderful, eco-friendly charity whose aim is to promote learning through creativity. And if it all fails and you’re covered head-to-toe in double-sided sticky tape, gifts can also be found in Barty’s next door at Bowden Hill, Lacock!


Buy him a Record or CD!

Nip to Vinyl Realm, even if you don’t know what music the old fellow is into; experts Pete and Jacki will be able to advise, and nab yourself a long player that’ll take your dear ol’ pops back to a far off time when he was young; just take a step back if he attempts to belt out Cracklin’ Rosie or show off his dad-dancing; it’s never a pretty sight!

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Beer and Snacks!

I admit some Batman socks once got me a tad excited, but usually socks are a cliché yawn. Beer, that’s what he wants, and snacks to go with it. The Vaults in Devizes and Piggy Bank in Calne offer Father’s Day boxes of such necessities, and they’ll deliver them on Saturday or Sunday. Order on their respective websites and you can benefit from the amusement of watching Dad get sloshed.

The Southgate is also available to get take-outs, might be a plan; check with your favourite boozer to see who’s also doing take-outs; Dads are raring to get back down the pub, so you could be onto a winner with this idea. Mathematically the equation is thus: Dad + Beer = Happy Dad.


Tea for Two!

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy with any food, and I’m a dad; must be something in that notion. The Happy Food Company of Devizes have put together a special afternoon tea for Father’s Day, fresh delivered to your door on the day.

Cake selection, Coffee and walnut cake, Guinness and chocolate cake, large pork sausage roll, scone, jam and cream, loose tea from teainc and at £20 for 2. Mum will love it too, even if it’s not her special day!


A Takeaway Roast Dinner!

Who’s got one of those Dads who is always in the kitchen? Yeah, thought not! Still, might benefit him if mum’s in a good mood; get a takeaway roast dinner from the Pelican in Devizes; wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Best way to a man’s heart. Roast pork, chicken or stuffed Portabello mushroom with blue cheese sauce and lovely home made desserts. Vouchers can be redeemed for up to one year, and they have Take Away Mid Week Specials from around the World!

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Sweeties!

While we’re on grub, Dads love ‘em, simple as. Savannah’s Sweets in Devizes have reopened, and still do takeaway orders for home delivery. It’s an idea, save him nicking your Haribo, after all.

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Picnic!

Every Dad is, in some way, like Yogi Bear, and love a pic-a-nic. Over at Lower Farm, home to Rowdey Cows and Spotty Dogs, they’re having a socially distancing picnic; the shop has everything you need to make it as swanky as you like, and the café is open for teas, coffees, and of course, it goes without saying; ice cream! The Spotty Dog also has a male grooming gift sets as a secondary idea. So, if your dad has adopted the Planet of the Apes look over the lockdown, this might be the very idea.


Have a BBQ!

Dad and barbeque, like horse and carriage. Butchers HF Stiles in Bromham have a mixed grill pack especially for Father’s Day

Avebury’s Gourmet Goat Farmer have some gift bags for a delicious goat-based barbeque. Complete with a goat-themed greetings card, and goat burgers, brioche rolls, goats’ cheese, and a selection of locally sourced salad items, the first 10 orders get a FREE bottle of Ramsbury Brewery beer thrown in too!

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Crafts!

Amelia-Rose Creations in Trowbridge has lots of nice ideas, including some brilliant framed worded pieces with Lego superheroes on, get in faster than a speeding brick train though.

Sugar & Spice Bows is another great online crafter with some idea for Father’s Day, their keyrings might not get to you on time, but would be make a great belated gift!

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And never forget our Naz at Cositas Bonitas, crazy little craft shop in Sidmouth Street, Devizes. While I cannot see they’ve anything specific for Dads, they’ll guaranteed to have endless ideas in there.


Get a book from a local author!

No point in doing this article without a shameless slice of self-promotion! Buy a paperback or Kindle version of the five-star rated sci-fi comedy, White Space Van Man by yours truly; it’s right up his street, lots of rude words, and it’ll keep him quiet for weeks, save for a perpetual bout of belly-laughs!

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Let him eat CAKE!

Devizes-based TrayCake will deliver a Father’s Day treat box to a five-mile radius and, mate, I’ve checked their website, only browsed the photos, but I’ll be dribbling for the foreseeable future.

Secretly though I know what I’m getting, thus is the plight of being father, the invoice was emailed to me! I wasn’t going to mention it, because within half-hour of going online they were sold out. The good news is though, The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen at Poulshot Lodge has a new batch of Father’s Day Treat boxes. OMG and other such exclamation abbreviations, had some of these at the Devizes Food Festival; see, my kids know how to push my buttons. Although I’ll probably have lock myself in the downstairs loo if I think I’ve any chance of stuffing them all!

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My work here is done. For the good of all Dad’s out there, the ones who deserve more than a Lynx deodorant set, but probably need one, have a great day! See you down the pub soon, alright?!


Blossom with Gail (from Devizes)

Phone memory bursting with text messages from Gail Foster the day I did my fundraising milk round in my Spiderman onesie. A keen photographer as well as accomplished local poet, Gail had cycled to the summit of Monument Hill and sat awaiting to capture the moment I returned triumphant.

I confess, I underestimated my ETA massively due to the media attention, Carmela and family arriving, and passers by stopping me to donate. I was also irritable and smelly by that point, but those are occupational hazards at the best of times, doubly so in a onesie in the sweltering August climate. Gail, though, was as dedicated as paparazzi to getting the snap she wanted, got me smiling just to see her there, and it’s the same commitment she shows through her expressions in poetry. Her shiny new book, Blossom is a prime example.

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Images by Gail Foster herself!

Perhaps its very title coveys Gail’s grouping of photography and poetry, natural elements crucial to her snaps, but her books bestow only the written word. We’ve reviewed Gail’s books in the past, never an easy task. Poetry not my bag, usually, so I cannot liken to similar creative outpourings. There’s also the fear that my own penmanship doesn’t compare and will not do justice to her creative writing. Poems are hard, something about bacon. Yet it is down to befriending Gail which has re-sparked an interest in poetry in me, and deflected my juvenile fear of a Ted Hughes book facing me on a school desk. That’s how universally appealing her words are.

While subjects chronologically stream from one poem to another, expect also, sudden changes in Gail’s train of thought. Blossom kicks off with a memorial forward and dark subjects follow, of wintery funerals and melancholic seasons. One may expect this, the platitude of poems often reveals a shadowy side of the poet. But, just a few poems in and though we’re still on the seasonal theme, winter cries a warning to Gail, to keep her knickers on.

Here is precisely why Gail got me into in poetry, a feat I never cared to assume would happen. The wittiness of the absurd, surreal, Pythoneske can crop up, without warning and provide actual laugh-out-loud observations. There’s a feeling of daring in Gail’s words, while acute and proficiently executed, nothing is off limits. Gail projects drollness, jocularity and just about every other emotion of the human psyche, in manner which though reflects poets of yore, breathes a fresh and unique approach to boot.

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In this, her new book Blossom doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere new in comparison to her previous collections, there’s even a pigeon reference, a running subject in Gail’s words, yet an improvement in skill and wordplay is clearly evident. Gail strives to advance and progress in her wordsmanship, dealing words like a croupier deals cards, snappy and expertly.

The introduction enlightens us to Gail’s motivation and reason for writing, “I write poems for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes an occasion demands it, in which case I stare at a sonnet on a screen for three days; at other times a poem might tickle me in my sleep, wake me up laughing.” Blossom then conveniently divides into sections, poems covering Seasons, poetry itself, “Binky Liked to Bitch a Bit,” Politics, Characters, Sorrow, Love and Prose, even local thoughts in a section titled, “a bit of old Devizes.”

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There are verses dedicated to friends, themes of celebrities, naughty royals and both Greta and Trump, odes to patronising old men, nosey neighbours, political sway, Brexit, current affairs and Nigel Farage depicted as a meerkat. As we pass through an era Gail documents them uniquely. There are unapologetic words of the sweary kind, bitterness at times, jollity in others; bugger, it’s tricky to nail this poet down; what does she want from me, trying to review a book so vastly sweeping with subject matter and prose?! I’m giving up, you have to read it yourself. You can bless your Kindle with one, or Gail favours that you nip to Devizes Books for a paperback, and I tend to agree. Devizes Books brilliantly supports local authors.

In this time of lockdown, you might need a good read, so too does the artists need some revenue. The advantage of holding Gail’s poems in your hand is that you can freely pursue them at your own leisure. We did once review a spoken word CD which Gail recorded, I like this approach and unsure if she will do it again.

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Proof it’s in Devizes Books, here’s owner Jo holding a copy!

I could, but don’t, motivate myself to attend local poetry slams and readings, in fear those poets I know, Gail, our own writer Andy, and Ian too, might encourage me to get up. Yeah right, “here’s one I wrote called ermm, ermm, and ermm!” Yet, I do love to hear Gail actually reading her poems herself, it’s a Jackanory thing, to hear the creator express their words is far more effective for a slow reader like me. But you, clever lot, will love Blossom.


© 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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Win a £1000 and help Carmela

Who watched our Carmela and family on the telebox on Wednesday? Surely the most heart-breaking section of a documentary about life in lockdown and those taking the highest risks or making the worst sacrifices.

As her Dad, Darren said while driving his van around, delivery samples to hospitals, and unable to hug his daughter, the funding for muscular dystrophy research has dried up. But here’s a way you can help from home, and even win yourself a grand. The blind card advert can be found on Carmela’s Facebook page. You can help fill this lottery up. Pick a number from 1-150, pay £10 per number, so can have more than one if you so wish. Pay via PayPal.me/carmelasfund

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Once all the numbers are taken the winning number will be revealed and the winner receives £1000, Carmela gets £500 towards a safe garden access area to play. Yep, it is play, Carmela’s family say, but only in a form of. It is, in fact, crucial exercise for her at a time when swimming, and other activities have been restricted. It helps build her muscles, and rather than most of us, being for a healthier life and perhaps some abs for the opposite sex to swoon at, muscle building is essential for someone with a muscle-wasting disease. The lockdown is already taking its tow on Carmela’s health and wellbeing.

So, please, if you can, support this sweepstake and be in with a chance of winning. Thank you. x

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Keep on Running with Joe Edwards

Joe Edwards has his debut solo album, Keep on Running released this week, here’s my tuppence on it…..

Under the “write what you know,” philosophy, if I’ve been critical in the past regarding local Country-fashioned artists using cultural references alien to their natural environment, i.e. a band from Wotton Bassett crooning about boxcars and wranglers, I have to waive the argument in the case of Keep on Running, the debut solo album by Joe Edwards, of Devizes. Not because Joe is well-travelled to apt locations and it was recorded and produced at Henhouse Studios in Nashville, though he is and it was, or it’s so authentic it’s more authentic than the authentic stuff, but because, in a word, it’s so absolutely gorgeous.

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I’m going to be hard-pressed to find a different album of the year, as if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.” But it isn’t, and if one can rebuke Dylan as eaten by wealth and the machine he once repelled against, here, with freshness, is Highway 61 really revisited. The characters here can be akin to Dylan’s, questioning romance, bittersweet with humanity’s cruelty. Keep on Running never faulters nor diverts from its mellow method, if the tempo raises it’s only slight, and if it slips a toe under the door of rock, shards of both folk and blues roots are methodically preserved with finesse.

“…if this was a new Bob Dylan release the headline would be “Dylan Back on Form.”

When preacher Casey picks up hitchhiking Tom Joad, recently paroled from the McAlester pen in the Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck paints a picture with his words so immaculately precise you’re in that pickup with them, sensing the raw sting of the dustbowl and the smell of the dying cornfields of Oklahoma. With every banjo riff, or twangy guitar, Joe paints a similarly genuine image of the Southern American states.

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The writing is sublime, acute blues. Characters are often despondent, impecunious and dejected. Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible. You may be riding their train of pessimism, yet it’s not discouraging on the ear, rather selfless muse executed with such passion there’s an air uplifting, best compared with Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.”

You sense a running theme; yes, life is shit but I’m dammed if I’m going to let it piss on my chips. A feeling Joe nurtures as the album continues, reaching an apex with a track called “Don’t Let the Bastards Get you Down,” and continuing to the title track. Hereafter you understand the metaphor to “Keep on Running.” If not, the cover is a meek lino-cut akin to labelling of a Jack Daniels bottle, with a road heading off to the mountains, just to make sure.

“Yet this is not Springsteen’s Nebraska, somewhere they’re thrown a curveball and the air of melancholy is introverted, altered to positivity in the face of all things terrible.”

After the title track, there’s a road ballad in true Americana style, the venerable symbolism for changing your life, which is never a negative notion. If the finale then spells the most adroit blues tune, “Mine oh Mine,” the beginnings, “Beth’s Song” and “Cross the Line” herald the better country-inspired ones, but between them, an insolvent blues tune, “Capital Blues,” as a beguiling teaser for what’s to come. In contrast the achingly poignant, “Gambler” is perhaps the most accomplished bluegrass, filled by a tormented soul pouring his heart out for want of an extra six dollars.

It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well, though, like a concept album of the 1970s it’s a single unit to be heard complete. This doesn’t prove a problem; you’re engaged throughout and wouldn’t dare press pause.

Nothing is tentative about Keep on Running; you get the sense Joe is deliberate in where he wants to take you. Despite remaining faithful to the formulae set by Guthrie and continued by Dylan, Segar and Lynyrd Skynyrd, where nothing is experimental, nothing is cliché either. One listen and you’ve entered a grimy western saloon, biker citizens pause shooting pool to glare, and a cowgirl in daisy dukes and a red chequered shirt tied at the waist welcomes you, piercingly.

“It flows so incredibly well, George Harrison well.”

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There is no in-your-face blast of sound, it traipses mellowly, and Joe executes his vocals with a whisper, as though he’s pouring a heartfelt secret to you alone, and for that you’re honoured; you should be. This is sweltering Sunday morning music, preferably slouching in a rocking chair on the veranda of a log cabin, sipping whiskey and rye, plucking a banjo. Though the least I can do right now is watch Oh Brother Where Art Thou!

Keep on Running is available now, here, and on Joe’s Bandcamp page, here.


© 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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Bryony Cox Art on Sale and NHS Donated

Wondering where the time goes, it’s been near on a couple of years since we featured Devizes artist Bryony Cox, when she exhibited her paintings in Upstairs at Jacks. At the time Bryony had not long graduated from Falmouth Uni. Since completing her studies, she has travelled extensively throughout Asia.

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“I’m now doing an MA in actor musicianship at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama,” she informed me to minor surprise, aware Bryony has performed and sung in local dramatics such as the White Horse Opera and Devizes Musical Theatre in the past. “But I’ve kept my studio in Trowbridge and still produce artwork alongside. Sometimes I have been able to use my visual skills exploring theatre making and performance.”

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Personally, I’ve always been taken by her dramatic landscapes and fascination with mountains, yet I’ve always been a fan of Turner, and there’s something equally as expressive and unified in Bryony’s. There is, however, a variety in her enlarged portfolio since we last spoke, some figure and settings work inspired from her travels, sketched miniatures, and she has been using mixed-media, charcoal and pastel for example, and experimentation with college, even animation. And there’s no better time to browse Bryony’s website, as she offers 20% off and 50% on some of her older works, with 20% donated to the NHS. See for yourself on her website, here.

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These connections between art and performing arts captivates me, aside the name arts, and primary school drama class where I had to pretend to be a tree! So, I asked Bryony if she thinks there are similar work practices in theatre to art, and in what ways.

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“I’m quite interested in the crossover between theatre and performance art,” she explained. “I have started bringing film back into my work and my research on my MA has been about performing alongside film projections of drawings, animations and audio overlays. But I have always kept drawing and painting Wiltshire alongside because of the beautiful countryside and still keep drawing portraits from any travels that I have been on as I love to document different people and cultures.”

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We are lucky to live in an area where artists feel their home is an equally inspiring subject as their travels. In this much I see a likeness to Clifton Powell’s work, another well-travelled local artist who documents his journeys through his art, yet returning to Wiltshire often produces some equally outstanding pieces.

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It’s worthwhile bookmarking Bryony’s site as she frequently updates it with new work. “More recently I have been to Vietnam and Indonesia,” she told me, “so some of my more recent portraits that I am going to put up today are from that trip.” We look forward to seeing them!

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow) Images Copyright of Bryony Cox.
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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Rowde Artist Alan Watter’s NHS Portraits

Rowde artist Alan Watters has finished a portrait in the ‘Free Portraits for NHS Heroes’ initiative as featured on BBC news recently. The subject is Christina Whicker, an IAC nurse at Boston Pilgrim Hospital. Alan says he’s about to start another, “as I find it difficult to say no!”

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Alan is also a part time support worker confined to 12 weeks self-isolation and wishing to still do something to help the fight against the Coronavirus. “I thought I could produce limited edition pencil signed and numbered prints from some of my recently created original artworks and sell them at a modest price but with 100% of the profit going to causes fighting the virus, the major benefactor being ‘NHS Charities Together.”

So, he’s knocked up a website where you can view the prints, here. “I have a little way to go to reach my target of £1000,” Alan explained, “so please have a look and help if you can.” There’s a wide-range of fine art on show here, some life sketches, celebrity portraits, cute animals and also some thought-provoking imagery. Most prints are £25, for a limited period it’ll also include a pencil signed greetings card featuring the image of your choice.


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Talking Gravity, and other things, with Daydream Runaways

With some images used by Nick Padmore

How professional of me to create a to-do-list of outstanding subjects for articles, but then spoil said professionalism by dithering to the Daydream Runaways boys about the nineties rave-indie divide and becoming a grandad. The sensible members of the band promptly left the group chat, save guitarist Cameron Bianchi who stayed to endure my inane waffling up as far as the Madchester scene.

Prior to this though we had a great heart-to-heart early in the week, but if the title of this article is misleading, I should add the subject of Sir Isaac Newton never came up, rather Gravity is their latest single, hot off the streaming sites yesterday. It’s quality, as expected, going on their three previous releases, blinding reviews and an appearance on BBC Wiltshire.

It does indeed, as the press release states, “deliver on their brand of retro-modern indie rock,” but while maintaining an emerging signature panache, it pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division. A hasty grinding atmospheric intro with a pause, then the spiralling sonic guitar takes no prisoners. If the last tune, Closing the Line bore topical sentiment with a theme of the town’s Honda Plant closing, Gravity is perhaps more general, but even more powerful. This imminent Swindon-Devizes four-piece really have dug into an emotional slant with Gravity.

The combination of Ben Heathcote’s idiosyncratic vocals, said sonic guitars and class production value, this belts across as a rock anthem to not only scare The Darkness but fight a Foo. They say it comes from “a time of turbulence and explores the burden of life’s toughest decisions.” If I predicted the air of gloom surrounding the era would produce some intensely expressive songs, here is the all the proof you need, if indeed it’s a product of the pandemic. I’m going to find out.

So, I’m wondering, if the recording was done at a distance, or prior to the lockdown. Drummer, Brad Kinsey informed, “it was done in February, in Swindon, with an engineer from Westbury.”

I explained my reasoning, “it sounds heavy, rather darker than usual. So, I wondered if it was a result of the lockdown. Is there a drive to take it that route, I mean slightly darker and heavier, or is just the mood of this particular track?”

Cameron replied “I think it was just the mood of the track. Everything kind of centres around the experience Ben’s lyrics are speaking about. In fact, Ben’s probably the best person to about the story behind the song. But we definitely made a conscious effort to push ourselves on this on to do the song justice.”

It certainly does. “It doesn’t hang around,” I pointed out, “and the vocals are more powerful than before. Seems like a natural progression, a maturity. Not that I’m calling you immature, you understand?!”

Bradley responded, “nah, I get that. I think we gained confidence and are more unified about this sound.”

Cameron interjected, “I think it’s important to all of us to keep pushing ourselves with each release and not churn out the same number. I’m not saying we’re the Beatles or anything, but you know give it some time. We’re still young!”

Bradley bantered, “are you, Cam?!”

Cameron added, “well, some of us are still young…” Laughing emojis are added, but I’m getting paranoid.

“Okay,” I opposed, “spring chickens; don’t rub it in!” But even with any such change, such as the edgier component of Gravity, there’s a distinct signature maintained in all their tunes and this, I feel, sets them apart from many a local band. I could have guessed it was them before knowing it. “Is that important,” I questioned, “to be instantly recognisable?”

Cameron said, “I think it helps that Ben has got a very distinctive and powerful voice. I suppose we’re starting to find our sound as well. Ben & Nath wanted to go a bit heavier with this track but I’m not a massive fan of heavy guitar. So, I opted for a more chimney yet overdriven guitar style that suits me, but also packs a punch. Plus, I got to flex my inner Graham Coxon/Jonny Greenwood with the effects heavy solo part!”

Brad covered this shot too, “I would say so, yeah. It’s good to build a sonic trademark, all the greats have that! It’s a good thing when people can still recognise you, even when you change things. Shows that you’re using that style but without losing the integrity of what you are.”

At this early stage, Daydream Runaways call a good compromise between them, witnessed when they tuned for our Waiblingen Way Fire fundraiser. “There’s always going to be differing opinions,” I pondered, “Bit like marriage!”

Cameron replied, “no relationship comes without some disagreements, a band included. But we’re all good at finding a compromise, which is good!”
Throughout the interview I’m concerned if I should bring the idea of a possible album up, as when we did the fundraiser I asked, and it met with varying opinions between them. However, with the topic running on compromise, it’s now or never! “I wasn’t sure, though wanting to ask, if I should bring it up again!”

Cameron delegated, “Bradley…over to you on the album talk!”

I interjected with the proposal before he did, “I think you should, but accept I’m not thinking about current climate in the music industry, rather an old fashioned ideal.”

Bradley answered, “there was a plan. However, the coronavirus has impacted that. Not going to say it’s completely gone but we’ll wait and see what happens. You can’t really make any plans at the moment.”

Cameron expressed, “it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when is probably all we’ll say for now!”

Brad added, “I’d say doing an album is all dependent on what genre you’re doing. Rock music fans are still very defiant and keeping the album alive. So maybe with this Gravity sound we’ll go down that route.”

It did bring us onto these strange times, and my deliberations on what’s the best approach for artists on how to continue, continues. “What’s best for musicians,” I asked them for their tuppence, “the live stream is simply not the same as a gig, and while charging for it is a bit cheeky, it’s difficult to know where to go to get some revenue for the work you put it. In short, must be a bitch. Let’s not say the word again!”

I couldn’t argue with Brad’s comment, “some bands I follow have rejected the idea and directed people to supporting more pressing causes.”

Meanwhile, Cam elucidated his feelings about the lockdown. “Whilst you really miss that immediate response from a crowd, and the fact you’re in a room where you can play loud and really get into it, they’re still fun to do! We were lucky enough to do one right before the lockdown was enforced. Probably one of the first bands to do it, then Chris Martin came along after with his solidarity sessions. We still haven’t forgiven him for that!”

“Springsteen did one! But not before you!” I supplemented.
Bradley was proud to say, “we were the first UK band to do a self-isolation livestream. There, I said it; Let the feud with Chris Martin begin!”

The topic continued for a while, this dilemma between fan etiquette and revenue for artists. But I wanted to notify how much I enjoyed theirs, “yeah, good it was too. Saw that! Right now, I guess, it’s all we have. That’s the point I cleared with Kieran at Sheer. It’s never going to be the best plan. I think it’s time to get down and write some killer songs, agree?”

Cameron agreed with a feel-good quote, “definitely, but now is also the time to look out for each other, even though we’re all apart. If we can reach out to people with our music or it helps them get through their day, then that’s amazing.”

Bradley approved too, “yeah, and there’s never been a better time to write. Technology’s made it so accessible now to bounce ideas. Who knows, we could even release a song in lockdown without even meeting up.”

It always amazed a younger me, that Paul Simon could collaborate with the South African musicians on Graceland, back in the late eighties, and it sounded like they were playing in harmony in the same studio. It is possible to edit parts and stitch together. Must bugger up the flow of it though, make it sound mechanical or manufactured.”

Bradley replied, “well, if the band records the parts individually themselves and lays off the editing it’s possible to get that organic feel. I wouldn’t be surprise if we start seeing artists jump on this idea and release original tracks.”

It was at this point Ben Heathcote joined us. “It seems like the boys have covered the questions quite well! As Cam said, Gravity comes from a place of uncertainty and pain from circumstances and the decisions triggered from them. A crossroad of the mind. And yeah, lockdown wise we’re hoping it makes people see the value in their freedom before and hopefully will bring out further support when pubs, clubs and entertainment reopen.”

I see Ben’s clarification reflected in the cover art too. With a kind of “stairway to heaven concept,” an impressionist character is looking lost, pondering which road to take. It’s apt for the song.”

Ben welcomed this, “you got it. And again, the artwork is something were really proud of. Provided by ezra.mae.art. We also enjoyed working with Reloopaudio on the production, a friend who we will be working with again. We love this song and we’ve loved the whole creation, writing and everything about it. It’s nice to have developed it from the live sound too.”
For Ben’s benefit, we found ourselves back on the subject of Gravity’s edgier side, “I think it will please the hardcore indie fans, and those which come from a heavy rock side, which is good, there’s a majority of them locally.”

Ben replied, “as you mentioned earlier, with the style sounding fresh, but still us. This is something I’ve always been hot on since the band formed. I’ve never wanted us to be doing the same thing every time. The aim was, and continues to be; to write and produce fresh sounds with hints of varying styles that is still recognisable as us, allowing it to not be boring or repetitive; kind of inspired by many of our favourite artists who keep developing their sound.”

I take off my hat to this, “I might come across pop or soul-ish but I had my day, and do still listen to bands like Zeppelin and Floyd etc. I think Gravity will be boss with that crowd.” With which I asked for their influences, and if they mutual.

Ben reacted, “I’d say our choices are not miles apart, but to pin a group favourite would be impossible as we all have our firm favourite influences.”

Cam agreed, “yeah, I don’t think there was a particular band or artist that inspired the track as such but we all agreed what the sound was we were aiming for. Making sure that each of us brought our own thing to it.”

Laughing emojis made a reappearance, when I teased, “Ed Sheeran it is then!”

Keen to take it back, Brad nods at my sixties psychedelic citations, “Floyd and Zeppelin are timeless though. Prefect example of bands that pushed themselves overtime.” And the Daydream Runaways can relate to that with this progressive new release.

Ben said, “I think before we produced the track, we all knew in our head how it should sound.” It’s definitely a belter. I thank them for their time, with one last question before we headed into our tangent about the rave-indie divide of the nineties! Where do the Daydreamers see themselves in five years?

Ben suggested in five years’ time he would like them to have a steady schedule, “playing to crowds who know our words, filling sold out venues as well as intimate gigs, which we can always remember.”

Cameron felt they’d have “an album or two under our belt, playing to crowds in our favourite venues. Having a slot on The John Peel Stage at Glastonbury is a bit of a dream of mine!” Ah, there’s the source of my waffling, started with seeing Oasis at Glasto but, unbeknown to me at the time, I paid them little attention.

Daydream Runaways though, worthy of your attention, here’s the Spotify link to Gravity, like them up on the book of face, and cross your fingers and toes we’ll be seeing them live soon, if not the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury!


© 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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Falling with Tone and Cutsmith

Since the jazz era, musical genres start covert and underground, and with popularity they’re refined to mainstream acceptability, packaged into a new pop wave, and eventually fall into a retrospective or cult hall of fame. I first stood aghast at the selling-off of our adolescent anthems when I heard Leftfield’s Release the Pressure in an advert for Cheese Strings. When this happens to you, you’re officially past your sell by date!

When my daughter is in the car it’s paramount, she controls the stereo, at least it is to her. I’m indifferent, the bulk of contemporary pop irritates my senior ears, but occasionally there’s a something interesting hidden. There was one, once, don’t expect me to root through her playlist to tell you what one, pop, but with the backbeat undeniably inspired from drum n bass.

My attention was drawn to a tune this week, Falling, from Devizes’ drum n bass outfit SubRat Records via Gail Foster, who shot the video for it. Listening took me to the aforementioned moment; how drum n bass was now part of the “norm” rather than primarily an underground genre. If it has come of age and entered the realm of acceptable pop, though, there’s still room for experimentation and the fusing of styles, which is no bad thing, and precisely what Falling is. Chris, hereafter known as Tone, has set up SubRat, and Pewsey’s Cutsmith is the vocalist on this particular track.

Cutsmith is current, using hip hop to inspire his acoustic compositions, so it melds effectively. In the way David Grey produced Babylon, Suzanne Vega did with Tom’s Diner or the entire catalogue of Portishead, fusing up-to-date dance styles with acoustically driven tunes is a winner, if done correctly. If not, it’s a howler, but I’m glad to say, this one really works wonders. Falling has a sublime ambient texture and glides causally through a mass-acceptable drum n bass riff. Cutsmith’s smooth vocals complements it perfectly, breathes mood into it and gifts it with meaning; the combination, a match made in heaven.

Though this may not be an entirely ground-breaking formula, I’d like to train spotter a nod towards a lesser-known tune on A Guy Called Gerald’s revolutionary album Black Secret Technology, where through splinters of drum n bass, an unknown Finely Quaye covers Marley’s Sun is Shining. But if you’d rather me example recognised tunes of singers who launched a career from featuring on a dance tune, from Seal to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and renowned artists who regenerated theirs, like the day William Orbit got a call from the queen of pop, here’s two local artists collaborating for each other’s good, rather than one tossed a rope to the other.

I wanted to probe the mind of producer Tone, about this concept, as what he’s got here is something very marketable, as opposed to something which would only appease the drum n bass fans. I asked him if this was the intention with this tune, yet I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea; I meant this in the best possible way. Even if, Bohemian Rhapsody, for example, is timeworn and cliché, it’s popular because it’s a bloody amazing song. Pop doesn’t necessarily have to be a sell-out, cast yourself away from Stock, Aitken Waterman.

“You’re definitely right about this particular track sounding more marketable and commercial than your everyday underground D&B piece,” he expressed. “I had no intention of making it sound acceptable to the masses but I’m glad it is like that. I think more people should be able to enjoy drum and bass for all different backgrounds. I’m not really trying to make what everyone wants; I just make what I like the sound of, and quite often or not it’s easy on the ear for everyone.”

I wanted gage the story behind this belter. “When we worked on this piece,” Tone replied, “I started out making the entire track without having any intention of putting vocals on to it. I sent it over to Josh (Cutsmith) and he said he’d love to do something over it, which is when we started recording. It turned out really well even though throughout the production I didn’t think I’d be making anything that sounds like this. My roots are actually firmly with the rave scene and I absolutely love sub-heavy underground vibes.”

Is this a debut single from Sub Rat, I asked him. “This is the first free release off of our label, SubRat Records, by myself, Tone. In a hope to bring people in and start a fan-base.” So, does Tone consider himself a DJ and producer? “I’m based in Devizes and solely a producer right now. I haven’t DJ’d for a long while. I produce a lot of drum and bass, but often step into other genres like Hip-hop, dubstep, grime, modern rap and more commercial stuff etc.”

If our local music scene is blossoming, it can be limiting regarding genres, so I welcome this with open arms. To assume such genres are generally confined to a municipal environment you’d be mistaken. Prior to our chat delving into rave memories, as the typecast urban raver always excluded the rural counterparts since day dot, I tried to keep current and ask Tone if future releases will follow a similar pattern, and where he saw SubRat heading.

“Aside from my solo journey I take pride being in the background for vocalists/rappers and providing the music/instrumentals for them,” he explained, “I want to see people succeed off of my tunes!” I hope so, this is promising and like to see other local singers benefit from an electronic dance music makeover, and if so, judging by this excellent tune, through SubRat, drum n bass is the key component.


© 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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Two Fundraising Heroes, Slightly Younger Than Captain Tom!

As the nation embraces the 100th birthday of Captain Thomas Moore, who famously raised over £30 million of NHS Charities Together, I too tip my hat to this war hero, but I also wanted to highlight and thank two very much younger local heroes this week.

Firstly, a huge congratulations goes to 13-year-old Will Foulstone. Yes, the pianist prodigy from Bishops Cannings/Chirton who kindly played the first slot at our Waiblingen Way Fire Fundraiser at the Cellar Bar, and set that bar high for our following acts, Daydream Runaways, Chloe Jordan, The Celtic Roots Collective and Ben Borrill. Oh yeah, and who played with the Script and London’s O2 arena too, mind!

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Will

Father, Stuart, live streamed this grand effort last Monday, which, as part of a Facebook virtual festival, the International online music festival for PPE fundraiser, managed to raise over £1,500 for this worthy cause. Well done Will, a brilliant job!

Our second local hero slightly younger than Captain Tom is our wonderful, six-year-old heroine Carmela Chillery-Watson, who, since her dad Darren couldn’t run the London marathon this year, replaced the 26.2 miles of a marathon with 26 laps of her therapy assault course. This gruelling challenge was also streamed live on 26th April, where Carmela was in high spirits and played to camera while completing this mini marathon. Carmela raised a staggering £1953.00 for Muscular Dystrophy UK. You can still donate to Carmela here for her amazing achievement if you missed it.

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Carmela

“Carmela is sore and tired as expected,” Carmela’s mum said, “and will probably be wiped out tomorrow too, but she certainly did us proud and more today.”

Well done to both our heroes this week, if you know of anyone else we should add please let us know!


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Courage (Leave it Behind) New Single from Talk in Code

As predicted, the void where live music reviews used to sit will be filled with an abundance of releases from our local music circuit. I’ve a backlog building at Devizine Tower; here’s the first this week, from Swindon’s indie-pop four-piece Talk in Code, and much as we’ve enjoyed watching streams of Chris in his car, yeah, this is more like it, cool.

Some pensive prose swathed in the upbeat eighties-fashioned synth-pop we know Talk in Code have mastered. Courage (Leave it Behind) offers a “wake-up call,” as the press release defines, yet does so with all the hallmarks of another catchy anthem. This lockdown-themed leitmotif hails what you’re probably questioning yourself, “it’s that feeling of realising something is not right and has to be changed. But, knowing what needs to happen and taking action are two very different things…”

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The world will undoubtedly be the different after this pandemic, the unity binding us could potentially tear us apart; did Joy Division predict this?! If not, there’s a ghost, least an inspiration from those early eighties new romantics fused into this contemporary tune, and again, just like the previous singles, while Talk in Code songs sound as if they’d slot into the background of a John Hughes coming-of-age movie, listen again, they also ring modernism in both production and subject.

From its inaugural piano, through its beguiling beat to this cliff-hanging finale which leaves the question open to interpretation, this is an uplifting song; I expected no less though. “Finding the strength to make a change and every bit relevant to these challenging times,” as the blurb continues, is surely up to us, pop doesn’t preach as it once did, rather stages the dilemma for you to solve, and that, in a way makes it that bit up-to-date, rather than a retrospective eighties tribute.

For that reason, Talk in Code are pushing boundaries rather than dwelling, and the reason which found them on BBC Introducing In The West, on The OFI Monday Show, The Premium Blend Radio Show, Swindon 105.5 and Frome FM. It is the reason why the Ocelot, Dave Franklyn of Dancing About Architecture, The Big Takeover, and oh yeah, us, are singing their praises.

Providing optimism as a theme to this single is a biting reality, and Talk In Code still hope to play some of the fifteen festivals that were booked into this year, including M for, Daxtonbury, Concert at the Kings and Newbury Beer Festival along with a showcase for Fierce Panda/Club Fandango, to be rescheduled for later in 2020; hygienically rinsed fingers crossed, and toes.

COURAGE (Leave It Behind) will be released tomorrow, 30th April, on digital download at www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms.


© 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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The New Local Blues

Had a nice chat with Sheer Music’s Kieran about acts, live streaming, future plans, and gardening this week… what am I on about? It’s always nice to chat with Mr Moore….

If the beginnings of Devizine was a learning curve in which I realised I’d bitten off more than I could chew, one might be mistaken to think now we must’ve covered every musical talent in Devizes, if not Wiltshire. Not so, as a post from Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music incited me to shudder. Why have I not heard the name Joe Edwards before?

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Joe Edwards

Name does ring a bell, must have posted about the cancelled album launch at the Wharf which would’ve happened this week. Well-travelled, Joe has been touring through Europe as a drummer for Australian band The Wishing Well, plus his debut solo album Keep on Running was mixed in Nashville and mastered in New Jersey with Grammy nominee Kim Rosen; might explain it, and if I have encountered the name I had no idea how renowned and awesome he is.

Hoisted in the help of Kieran for this then, to insure I’m bought up to date; there is a new cool in Devizes, and I’m going to prompt him about it. The initial message on any chat window these days is enquiring of wellbeing, understandably. Mr Moore is positively beaming, “[I’m] getting so much done and achieved,” he explained.

I replied with a question, “Like the gardening?!”

A boundless list of household chores followed which included, “how to programme moving head lights, learned how to live stream, learned how to record and edit videos.” Bless, that’s our Kieran, dedicated to fetching us the best live music and promoting local artists, no matter what the era brings us; you have to tip your hat to the man. Seeking permissions to release sets Sheer recorded from 2012-14 and bootleg them onto Bandcamp being the latest venture.

What of the live stream though? My Virtual Festival started with good intentions, but there’s been so much of it it’s hard to keep up, some may not be appreciative my sharing of their stream; it’s a close call. In these frustrating times, I asked Mr M if he felt “people are going to get bored with the live stream.” I often feel it doesn’t make up for the real thing and enforces my sadness that we’re missing out on live music. Yeah, I know, right; then I apologised for my despondent attitude.

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It’s a close call because artists earning from a live stream is problematic. Some have found methods of a pay-per-view stream, but many rely on a PayPal donation option. While I sympathise with the artists, also I ponder if charging for a live stream is justified when Wi-Fi can drop out, be overloaded, etc. “So,” Kieran added, “live streams have become a necessary evil, in the sense that everyone is doing them, and it’s really difficult to earn from them. Let’s be clear, live streams will never replace the real thing. No need to go into detail, we all know why, it just won’t.”

He believes they have a place in the future, though, after lockdown has ended. “You’d be a dolt not to recognise it! Whilst it may be difficult and lacking for most of us, these streams have enabled many people who wouldn’t usually be present, be it social anxiety, disability, or a myriad of other reasons, be able to take part and fell part of something.”

I gave mention to a stream-festival by Swindon Shuffle, it doesn’t have to be geographically grounded, organisers said people attended as far away as Mexico, and this increases the fandom of the performers to international levels.

In these few short weeks, we’ve seen musicians getting more creative with the concept, nice to see Benji & Hibbs sitting around a fire rather than indoors,Jon Amor climbed onto his roof last night, and Phil Cooper is getting tech with green screens for a Lost Trades stream on 1st May. “A lot of people have invested in the technology,” Kieran expressed, “so why would it stop after? It’s just daft, of course it won’t. Also, the reality is that venues won’t be back and open before 2021. The possibilities are currently being peddled by MVT,” He continued, “and it’s being taken seriously.”

I felt the need to apologise for my grumpiness, it had been a long day at the diary. I would, however, like to see artists getting some releases out rather than live stream, but accept that’s not easy either, for a band, with social distancing. Talking blues though, surely some the most poignant music, particularly blues, comes from feelings of isolation, depression and disappointment; from teenage anguish or working on the chain gang! The lockdown should deliver some interesting content.

“Be prepared for an avalanche of Coronavirus and lockdown blues songs,” Kieran suggested, and yep, seen a few emerging myself and played the “Corona Blues” by The Ragamuffin All-stars on my radio show last week.

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Little Geneva

Talking local blues, though, on top of Joe Edwards, who after a listen to I’m liking to a raw George Harrison or Clapton, what else has Kieran got for me? “Jon Amor likens Joe to JJ Cale, which is nice,” he compliments. “Then we have Little Geneva, who actually do covers, but they’re so obscure, people don’t know them. I actually like that slant.” Ticked that box some time ago, Little Geneva playing the Cellar Bar was knockout, and I’ve nothing but praise for their authentic blues sound.

This said, Little Geneva have since recruited female singer Mariam Maz to add to their already talented gang, and this I have to witness.

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Will Blake

“Then we have Will Blake in Bromham, a honky-tonk 12-bar type of guy,” but I’ve recently bookmarked Will too, sharing this soul cover multi-instrumentalist’s Isolation Sessions, which see him on piano in the middle of a Bromham field giving us a marvellous rendition of Man in the Mirror et all.

And finally, Kieran aims one I don’t know at me, a “swampy and dirty” contemporary Trowbridge four-piece, Sober Son. This is hard-hitting rock and one to watch. Looking to the future, where I predict an aching aftermath for concerts and gigs, many might frivolously suggest we have the party of parties, but Kieran is a doer. Can I spill the beans on his “overall idea?” “Say it’s currently Sheer’s intention to host an event!” he informs, yeah, will do.

Hosting a “Devizes Music Festival” is said idea, when the lock down is over, and to do a multi-stage bill, across the whole venue. Kieran’s dream team would consist of Jon Amor, Sober Son, Little Geneva, Joe Edwards, Will Blake and The Lost Trades, “etc.” I’m saying no more, not to get over-excited too soon, we’ve a long way to go with the lockdown; I could be a pensioner by then and only wishing to listen to Pat Boone!

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Ah bugger, back to the now; do like the Sheer Music Facebook page, currently dedicated to bringing you the best local live streams, “the necessary evil.” But most importantly is the notion I’ve said before and will no doubt say again, unless you want to pop the bubbles of musician’s aspirations and see them pushing supermarket trollies, it’s vital you check out local artists and buy their music, be it from Bandcamp, streaming sites, their sites or send Vinyl Realm a message, as they stock a selection of local music too.


© 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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Rural Wiltshire’s Sensational Soul Food with Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen

When you live in a market town such as Devizes it’s inevitable when driving through any city to become overwhelmed and perhaps a smidgen envious at the variety of cuisine on offer; look, Nepalese dal-bhat-tarkari street food, outside a lacto-vegetarian Mongolian bistro, next door to a vegan Venezuelan arepas snack bar! You name it, a metropolitan milieu will probably have it. Here, while it’s hailed as some of the best; Italian, Chinese and Indian are about our limitations, unless you chance a kebab.

So nice then, that Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen has gifted us an addition, if variety is the spice of life, it’s high time we had a taste of the Caribbean. Sporadically shacked up in the Shambles prior to the lockdown, Pauline and the team has never been busier since introducing a drop box delivery service; perhaps she doesn’t need me to hype it up as word travels fast; this is an authentically tasty treat.

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Through my love of reggae, I’m rivetted by all things Caribbean, the easy-going culture, the colours and sweetness of those exotic islands in the sun, the sounds, linguistics, the art, and of course the food. And that’s before I even went there! The only member of my family lucky enough to have taken the once-in-a-lifetime trip, I wondered if Sujay could return my taste-buds to the West Indies in the same way as a jouvert jam would for my ears, but I was unsure if the family would take to the idea. Surprised then I was when the better-half suggested we ordered, arm twisted, and before I could recite a verse of Three Little Birds our drop box was ordered for Saturday afternoon.

Caribbean food is not customarily a Michelin star a-la-carte affair, rather the traditional roots rest in amazing street food and home cooking, therefore styles and recipes can vary, and this is precisely what you get. You should note I’m no Jay Rayner, I’ll hoof the loot without coming up for air, and if it’s tasty I’m going to tell you, and if it’s not I believe honest criticism is virtuous; it’s all unpretentious evaluation rather than vernacular condemnation. This though, arrived at our door on time with a smile, and was everything it’s been rated as being.

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So good I didn’t contemplate taking a photo for use here, sorry, but I simply didn’t have the will power to resist getting stuck straight in!

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Me, I went for the goat curry as I’ve never tried it. Sticking to custom it is as it should be, a quite humble green paste curry, spices, with chunks of goat. But served with traditional rice and peas (peas being a black bean rather than European green peas) the simpler formula is often the preferred and I loved every bite, as did the wife. I added a side dish of plantains, imagine a fried banana that thinks it’s a potato and you’re somewhere near the mark.

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For the daughter, and of course with portions so generous some of it naturally found its way onto my plate, the classic jerk chicken with a side of chicken wings, and another colossal portion of rice and peas. Perhaps no other dish so popular varies from handed down home recipe as much as this one in Caribbean food, but I’ve tasted a variety. If Levi Roots has marketed a certain blistering style and tailored his own methods, Sujay’s is closer to what I’ve tried in Barbados. Much more subtle with the hotness, but nice on the spice. I also reserve at Caribbean street chicken disguising cheap meat with a high dosage of hot paste but this is not the case here, the untainted wings would’ve revealed, but these too were exceptionally scrumptious and clear that the quality of the ingredients were not skipped on.

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If Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen doesn’t deserve enough kudos with you for providing fifty meals earlier this week for the NHS staff with the organisation of Tailor-Made Events, or serving brown stew chicken and stew pork with rice and peas to the homeless and vulnerable on the streets of Swindon this evening, maybe its time you sampled some of their sensational soul food yourself?

Tams off to Sujay’s then, the perfect meal with a difference for our rurally repressed palate. Irie, as they say in the JA, gurt lush as we might say here! I’m not ganderflanking yer mucker, this is the soul food of Wiltshire and will whisk your taste buds to a tropical paradise faster than Beenie Man can wax lyrical a monostich; pass the rum punch!

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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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Sam Bishop is One of A Kind

With all the hallmarks of Sam’s current releases,One of a Kind slips perfectly into the direction he’s heading; it’s smooth, echoes of slight melancholy but uplifts just enough to wet the taste buds. Proving Sam Bishop is one of a kind, carving a distinctive style with every new track.

But this one has one significant difference, all profits from it are going straight to Trussell Trust. Sam explains “a truly amazing charity that works to provide emergency food and help for those in need.”

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There’s also a topical theme, reflecting the mood of the lockdown for young lovers, “this song is about missing loved ones whilst apart,” he continues, “and feels extremely poignant right now.”

He added how “terrified” he is as it’s the first track he’s produced solely, but it doesn’t fail to impress. It also gives much anticipation for a better day when his newly formed band while at college in Winchester, Midnight Running will re-join and I hope he can bring them back to his hometown for a gig. Until then, check out the single we campaigned to get crowd-funded a month back, as every penny goes to a great cause.


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Wiltshire Girl Goes LIVE for Muscular Dystrophy

It was a sunny afternoon when we arranged a photoshoot for our Spider-milk-man fundraiser last spring, so the playpark outside my house was an ideal location. Carmela played on the climbing frame while I got to know her mum, Lucy. It was sadly evident then how restricted her muscular dystrophy limited her ability to do what so many other children love to do, run and jump and play.

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The lovable part to this six-year-old is her optimism and endearing personality, but the inspirational is her zest for life and determination to overcome. For Carmela’s family life is a constant fundraising campaign and together they strive to find new ways to promote it. If Muscular Dystrophy UK, like many other charities is feeling the effects of Covid-19, for the family personally it hasn’t been easy either. In a heart-melting film for Points West last month, we saw Carmela’s Dad Darren unable to see his daughter as he’s a key worker and communicating with sign-language with her through the garden’s patio doors.

Alongside the many fundraisers for ‘Carmela’s Stand Up To Muscular Dystrophy,’ and for MDUK in general, Darren was due to run the London Marathon on the 26th April for MDUK, but this event has now been rescheduled for October. MDUK needs our help now though, for those with a progressive muscle wasting disease, at high-risk from the pandemic and the usual systems for coping vastly restricted.

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Save the UK’s Charities General fundraising has been hit very hard by COVID-19. Thousands of fundraising events have been cancelled and many charities, particularly smaller ones, are struggling to maintain services because of this huge reduction of income. This impacts all sectors of society from children to the elderly as well as the vital work in areas such as palliative care, serious diseases, mental health, housing support, food supplies and countless others that charities support.

Step in our six-year-old heroine, to replace the 26.2 miles of a Marathon, Carmela is going to attempt to do 26 laps of her therapy assault course LIVE via her Facebook page on 26th April at 2pm. Carmela would normally only do two to three laps. “This is going to be a very tough challenge,” Carmela’s mum Lucy explains, “we may have to take out certain high equipment during the challenge as she is not meant to over exert her exercises as damaging her muscles is permanent and won’t repair.”

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We wish her all the best and support for this enduring challenge, she will be going LIVE on her Facebook page ‘Carmela’s Stand Up To Muscular Dystrophy’ on 26th April at 2.06pm. You can also donate to MDUK. Text MDUK3 to 70660 and donate £5. Or directly to this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/my-2-6-challenge-d92bda3f-a95b-4a87-a64d-6dcb4b39491d

Go Carmela!


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The Lost Trades; Debut at the Village Pump

By Helen Robertson

Images by Abbie Asadi

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On a rainy Friday night in Trowbridge, I followed the directions from the bar staff at the Lamb Inn- past the pool table and out the back – to the Village Pump, a quirky, intimate performance space that was already packed. And there was cake, lots of cake.

This was the first gig for The Lost Trades but most people seemed to know the Wiltshire-based singer songwriters, Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin, pretty well as they mingled in the breaks between support acts Vince Bell and newcomers Timid Deer.

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Tamsin confessed she was nervous, hoping the new three-part harmony adventure would start well. She needn’t have worried. The sell-out crowd were on their side right from the start.

 
Swapping instruments and lead vocals throughout the night, The Lost Trades shared their stories and songs with the relaxed ease of seasoned performers. There are three distinct styles to the songs but an obvious pleasure in playing together binds the music into a cohesive set. It’s folky, funny and full on harmony.

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 I’m glad Phil took the time to introduce his original, the Groom of the Stools – a little context went a long way to explaining this rollicking, foot stomping number where “every day I take a look at the Crown jewels”. Google it, trust me it’s that job that you’ve never dreamed about.

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 About halfway through the set Tamsin debuted Hope Cove, a very personal song for a friend about holidays in Devon. Loaded with emotion the absolute strength of the trio, the balance of harmonies, was on display. These three voices create a beautiful rich sound, layered and textured.

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 My favourite song wasn’t an original – sorry guys – but a traditional American spiritual, Down in the River to Pray. The harmonies, wow. Just wow. As it soared and rolled around me, I’m not ashamed to say I might have had something in my eye….

 
The Village Pump is a cracking venue, home to the local folk club and a regular open mic night. I was told a group of friends started the folk club there in 1973 in a barn at the back of the pub. Performances were staged from a wagon and there are nods to this on the walls with horse paraphernalia hanging with tubas, French horns, guitars and pipes from a church organ. Upstairs in the balcony there’s plush red tiered seating from a now-closed local movie theatre. Great acoustics, a welcoming vibe and drinks on tap from the Lamb Inn, it’s just the place to showcase local talent.

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Shout out to Jamie’s fiancé Janey for the cakes – a vote saw the chocolate cake coming out the clear winner with the consolation prize going to Tamsin’s flapjacks. I tried a few, for research purposes. Perhaps more than a few. Yum!

 
The encore was a swinging country version of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere. I’m picking this is far from the truth for the trio. The Lost Trades are out on a Spring tour now with a handful of gigs around Wiltshire as well as trips to far flung places including London, Stratford on Avon and Exeter between now and the end of April. Details are on their website along with the chance to join the mailing list for early bird benefits.

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Helen Robertson)
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Blues at the Sports Club got my Mojo Working

If I divide rock music into three favoured eras; its birth from rhythm and blues to form rock n roll, psychedelia moulding it back to wailing blues, and second gen mod or new wave from the eighties, and anything post these I don’t care for so much, be it heavy, soft or Nu-metal, I paused for thought last night, observing these three pillars firmly personified at this most fantastic jam at the Devizes Sports Club. And what is more, it’s fused, together in one great monster of a performance, which, in a word, was spellbinding.

Impelled to duck out the Cavy early, as while I figured our writer Andy would be in attendance, and be willing to put some words into action, I had to see this for myself. It was as I predicted in our preview, no musician singled out, no-one-on-one-off exhibition, rather a humongous blues jam amalgamating the exceptional talents of all present. Already underway on my arrival, our guitar heroes Ruzz Evans, representing the rock n roll in my three-pillar theory, with his classy suit and quiff, Innes Sibun on the psychedelia with that long hair and wailing guitar, and Jon Amor in his trademark drainpipes and sneakers. To boot, not only is Ruzz’s backing band present on bass, drums and horns, there’s the legend who is Peter Gage causally making the keys look like Child’s play.

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Afterwards I made a beeline for Ruzz, inquiring how one goes about creating this wonderful amalgamation and how rehearsed it needed to be. There was no rehearsal, he explained, it’s based on specific templates in which the musicians observe each other’s changes and improv takes control. This takes a wealth of experience and talent, as Ruzz continued to get technical it showed both his obsession with his craft, and my incompetence in such matters. I should’ve recorded his explanation for a quote, as the jargon pursued and I’d drunk far too much! (Note dodgy photographs as proof!)

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Again, the slight topic of conversation that was passed around the club related to the current virus situation. Naturally people are concerned, yet it didn’t stop this venue filling sufficiently with our blues aficionados, matured or otherwise. I figured if times do go terribly wrong in the coming days, this could potentially be my last night out for a while, and if so, or even if not, I’m out to party. This event satisfied that ideal, but I knew it would, it said so on the tin.

It was good to bump into singer-songwriter Joe Hicks, where we expressed concern for the decline and postponing of events and its effect on organisers and musicians alike. He had, as I suggested, already an album up his sleeve. Perhaps the coming month will see musicians take to recording studios as the bread and butter of gigs phases out. It’s a sad thought, but absently unnecessary tonight, as the power of live music blessed the hall in a way which should make Devizes proud.

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Staggeringly as ever, Innes was on lead when I got there, taking the audience on one of his magical journeys, only for Ruzz to be frontman for one of my favourites of his tunes, Sweet as Honey. After a short break it was Jon’s turn, picking Juggernaut to blast us with, ever so proficiently. Then, was it a Billy Price song which Peter Gage so skilfully but causally covered with the honky tonk of Howlin’ Wolf, The Price I Paid for Loving You? I dunno, no expert, but I’d lost the will to keep track, allowing the blessed music to flow over me.

With a hypnotic guitar-off, if that’s the appropriate terminology, between Ruzz and Innes, sections provided for all musicians to show off, including the drum solo of drum solos and the most amazing bass guitar solo too, it was one heck of a brilliant blend of electric blues I’ve bared witness to.

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If my only criticism was pondering if the sound could contain this monster of supergroups, and that a semi-circle barrier between the musicians and audience had naturally formed, with the blues preservation society of Devizes merely wobbling on their feet, the sound system took the strain adequately, and after not too long the movers penetrated the semi-circle and all round dancing ensued. Otherwise, this gig was perfection on all levels, my blessings to all involved. If there is, gloomily, to be no Saddleback Festival this year, last night thoroughly made up for it and leaves me pondering what will be next from this fantastic venue.


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