Birthday Bash, Birthday Bash….

Alrighty then, not to blow my own trumpet, it’s time to mention our Birthday Bash again; case you forgot! Concern that it’ll be just me, crying into a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch, and Dean trying to pinch one is waning, as attention for our little party grows evermore, like a zit.

 
While I’ve asked nicely if The Gazette & Herald would be so kind as to give it mention, being it’s for charity, and I’d thought that’d bury a hatchet, it seems I’m talking to a brick wall, so I’m relying on word of mouth, and Facebook of course; you know what to do, sharing is caring!

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Oh, in addition, Sue Davis is going to ring me without inkling how grumpy I can be Saturday mornings, to allow my Dorset tones to ring over BBC Wiltshire radio-waves; I shall be live at 9:45ish. And of course, a special thanks goes to DJ Emma D, on the ones and twos at Fantasy Radio, who’s already given the bash a plug. While I’m unsure if she’d appreciate the tag DJ Emma D, I think it suits; make it a “thing!”

 
The best thing about it, this birthday bash I mean, other than we’re raising some Wonga for Cancer Research, is that all the acts playing were featured, or least fondly mentioned, back in the early days of Devizine, that long, long year ago.

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There was one which hasn’t been mentioned, the wildcard, Dirt Road Diary, but unfortunately, they had to cancel. Suggested by Dean, as we’re in conjunction with Dead Kool Country Promotions, which basically equates to Dean doing all the hard bits while I sprout gobbledygook and take control of insuring the drinks behind the bar are suitable for you; I’m nice like that.

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I’ll be honest with you, (as you know I always am!) I had deliberations about a country band playing our gig, as it’s not to everyone’s tastes, until I downloaded their EP, “Our Country,” released Spring 2018. You can download it here from their website, free; it has that tender slice of rock, like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, particularly tracks like “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.”

 
While I’ve no plans to don a ten-gallon hat and rustle in cattle with a lasso, I love it, there’s a great many references to Americana, box-cars, highways, etc, which may seem cliched given Dirt Road Diary are from Calne, but its authenticity overrides this notion and it drives a convincing country vibe. “The EP’s been receiving great reviews,” lead guitarist Mark Allen tells me, “culminating with us being nominated for the BCMAs people’s choice award to be announced during the awards ceremony on the 24th November.” I don’t do hard feelings, and I wish Dirt Road Diary all the best with this and future ventures.

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Our Country certainly convinced me to change my mind about Dirt Road playing, plus it would’ve given certainty to the times here that I’ve mentioned the ethos the Devizes Country Music Club, recently renamed Devizes Ameripolitan Music Club, likely for the very reason that it is not as one might at first suppose; line dancing is just a slither of the scope on offer, and the club plays host to some experimental and interesting bands. Dean Czerwionka has also recently launched The Devizes Family Club, also operating out of the Cons Club, so as one busy guy, I’m extremely grateful for his time on our birthday bash project.

 
So, are we one act missing I hear you screech, am I down to ten men? Not likely pal, is the answer, as the wonderful Jamie R Hawkins has been on the warmup bench for the whole season, unsure if trips to Switzerland for his recording his new EP might disable his availability to join us, but I’m delighted to announce, he can do it! Adding Jamie to our bustling line-up of local talent really is the icing on the birthday cake.

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Have no concerns, we do have cake, a black forest gateau should arrive, made by the Harcourt Hamsters of Chirton, and kindly donated by Beverly Borrill; I kid you not, check out our hammie feature story from earlier this year!

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Not forgetting Matthew Hennessy of Hennessyimages, who is our official photographer; as official photographer for DOCA and The Wharf Theatre too, provided he doesn’t upskirt me on the dancefloor, we’re delighted to have him.

 
With Dean, Matthew and Bev done, there’s so many others to thank, Carol and the Cons Club staff, of course, but especially Pete of our brilliant record shop and musical hub, Vinyl Realm, who’ve stepped in last minute to provide the PA, and hopefully operate too, as it’s way over my head.

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Most of all though, let’s thank the stars of the show, as no matter if I get my haircut for the special occasion or not, it’s not about me, it’s about the wealth of talented musicians who have kindly agreed to play for nothing but the love of their craft. Lottie J from Swindon you may well know; only fifteen with such a mature, soulful voice and keen writing ability. She’s one to watch, so get there at 6:30pm as she’s opening our show.

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Our Devizes lads, Sam and Finley, aka Larkin are next up, you got to love ‘em; we’ve been following their progress through the brilliant Set You Free debut album to their new EP. After this then, I treat you to the masterful song-writing of that porkpie-hat-wearing Trowbridge living legend Phil Cooper, who sent me his album “Thoughts and Observations of…” to review many moons ago. Phil’s been working closely with our recent addition Mr Jamie R Hawkins, they bounce off each other nicely and so, I think we should extend Phil’s slot, slide said Jamie in and let them play in whatever formation they wish to; it’s a win-win.

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Tamsin follows Phil and Jamie, Devizine’s middle name is Tamsin-Quin-Fan-Club, our first ever article was about her crowdfunding project for an album, which came to fruition as Gypsy Blood, so it wouldn’t be the same without her here.

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I’m also so delighted George agreed to come too, when I first met photographer Nick Padmore, he tipped me off about George Wilding, even prepared I was in awe of his natural ability, and I’d sing his praises to the moon and back, but they’ve probably heard of him there already. I have asked the amazing young painter, Miss Bryony Cox, who is also known for her love of singing, if she would like to join George for a song or two, appearing together in the past has proved to be a wonderful combination; not sure how far we got with this idea but I guess it’ll turn out whichever way on the night.

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And what an awesome night it’s due to be, with Swindon’s The Day Breakers as a finale; Cath and Gouldy, who now also gig as duo Sound Affects, I first discovered through the Devizes Scooter Club as the then Killertones, with their awesome brand of classic covers we can all have a dance at the end; honestly, I insist. Dean has even offered, unofficially, to show us how to dance the floss – another good reason not to miss it.

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Of course, I might be persuaded to say a few words of gratitude, alcohol levels permitting, but you know I’m not best in the spotlight; has to be a very dull spotlight, 20watt or less. We do, however have the brilliant Devizes poet Gail Foster, to entertain us with some witty verses during any tuning and downtime from the acts, so a massive thank you also, to our Gail.

 
A few have asked if they can bring children, whilst I confess, I’ve not arranged provisions or entertainment specifically for the kids, of course they are welcome, and free for under 16s. Who am I to deny kid’s entrance, after all I’m a big kid anyway?! There will be balloons, provided by Cancer Research, and maybe, if I get the time, or someone else could bring some pens and paper, I’d be more than happy to spend as much time as I can on the night, doing some doodles with them.

 
Any other questions or queries you may have, do send them as I’m not an event organiser and probably have overlooked a number of things.

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All I need now is you, oh and a buffet, which I’m working on, but no guarantees; if anyone would like to take this on, with the promise of free advertising on Devizine, I’d be enterally grateful if you get in touch asap. So please make sure you’ve had your dinner early, as it kicks off at 6:30pm, on Saturday, 10th November, and please come and enjoy yourself!

 
Tickets are £10, all proceeds, save a beer each for our acts, will go to the Devizes branch of Cancer Research. Get ticket at the club, at Vinyl Realm, online here, or message me if you’d like to reserve some, but there will be some on the door. Anyone on the guest list are welcome to donate to the charity if they so wish to do so, at the door.

Tickets Online Here

Let me know your coming on Facebook!

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There’s a Kidnap… In Pantoland!

No, not some kid’s pap in Poundland, there’s been a kidnap in Pantoland, or at least there will be if the Wharf Theatre have anything to do with it. Me, I’m trying to imagine: “he’s behind you!…..Oh, he was behind you, now he’s bartering for your ransom demand.”

Still,  The Wharf Theatre Group ask, “what better way to start the Christmas Season and get into the festive spirit than by taking the family to the Wharf Theatre to discover all the songs, jokes and slapstick fun you would expect from the magical world of panto?”

“Come and cheer, boo and generally join in as you help discover ‘who-done-it’ in this pantomime adventure featuring all of your favourite fairy-tale characters,” my money is on Buttons, never trusted that guy, always the quiet ones.

“Together you can catch the culprit and rescue Snow White, Sleeping Beauty & Cinderella who have all been taken hostage by someone in Pantoland. Help Detectives Maverick and Chirpy investigate the case with a little help from the goodies, including wacky washer woman Widow Twanky and silly servant Buttons. And remember to keep a look out for the baddies – Captain Hook, the Evil Queen, the Wicked Stepmother & the Wicked Fairy are hiding out at their club house, working on their alibis!”

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I confess, I’ve a little crush on the Wharf Theatre since the fantastic Little Shop of Horrors performance and it sounds to me like The Wharf’s spin on pantomime will be highly entertaining family fun! Tickets £12/under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource at:

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-wharf-theatre/events

or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a new Autumn/Winter brochure which is now available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

Wharf Theatre, Wharfside, Devizes, SN10 1EB

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Teenage Country Sensation Emily Lockett coming to Devizes

 

Arriving at seventeen is a crossroads between childhood and adulthood where most of us dangle in limbo, at a loss to where the path will lead.

At the same age I didn’t know what was what, Stoke-on-Trent’s singer/songwriter Emily Lockett is busy working on her second EP, to feature three tracks already recorded; “Nice Eyes,” “Feel Love” and “Where We Left Off.” These two releases follow her 2016 album “Reflections of Me.”

With a stunningly graceful voice and the poignant song writing ability of a musician twice her age, seems this country-pop-folk artist, recently awarded British Country Airplay “Artiste of the Year 2018” in the people’s vote, has a flying start to a career in music. “I started learning to play the guitar at the age of about 5 and started writing songs when I was 12,” she explains on her website.

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So, if you thought the recently renamed Devizes Amerpolitain Club was a handful of line-dancing fogies, perhaps it’s time to rethink your preconception, as Dean Czerwionka constantly pushes the boundaries of the genre and brings a wealth of youthful talent to our town, Emily is playing at the Conservative Club this Sunday; it’s her first headline gig and blatantly, she’s one to watch.

“If you like Taylor Swift’s early work with an Avril Lavigne vibe then I’ll be right up your street,” she tells. But don’t let comparisons judge, check out the videos added here and see what I mean yourself.

Currently studying an Artist Development BTEC Level 4 at Access to Music in Manchester, Emily began on the talent show circuit at her tender age, her song “Reflection of Me” was highly commended in 2017 in the national Song Academy Young Songwriter competition, a fashion repeated this following year. It was performed live on BBC Radio Stoke, and a mountain of other local radio shows; deserves a warm, Devizes welcome, wouldn’t you say?

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https://www.emilylockett.co.uk

https://m.soundcloud.com/emilylockettmusic

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5jTBTukmcJaAfea5tj1I8x…

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A Night At The Opera!

 

The White Horse Opera’s Magic Flute, Reviewed by Andy Fawthrop

 

No – not a night with the Marx Brothers or a Queen concert, but an actual night at the opera! And in Devizes too – well it was Lavington School actually (no passport required) – to see the wonderful White Horse Opera’s 2018 production of Mozart’s most-loved opera The Magic Flute.

 
This two-act opera is a classic tale of good and evil, of love and loss, serpents, fairies, magical queens, spirits, sorcerers, castles, magic flutes and….well, you get the picture. Just the normal, classic stuff of your average opera.

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And this production was bang on. Well sung, well acted and well (musically) played by a dedicated (and very talented) company of amateurs, this was an extremely enjoyable night. By singing in English, using modern dress and a minimalist set, the team made the story accessible and easy to follow for a non-opera buff like myself. Mozart’s music, as ever, is light and lyrical. The libretto is straight-forward, eschewing the usual long miserable and repetitive arias so favoured by some composers, so things move along quite briskly.

 
Particular shout-outs last night:

 
• to Matthew Bawden who, playing the lead role of Tamino, had only taken up and rehearsed the role within the last ten days or so when his predecessor had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances. He sang and acted well, betraying no sign whatsoever of being short of practice;

 
• to Barbara Gompels, playing the Queen of the Night, (not for the first time in her career) for her pitch-perfect delivery of some of Mozart’s most demanding soprano parts;
• to Chrissie Higgs for not only shuffling around the stage playing a shambling old lady in one of the chorus parts (frighteningly convincing!) but for the fact that she directed the whole production;

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But, to be honest, I didn’t spot any weak links at all – either in the cast or in the orchestra. A fine all-round production.

 
White Horse Opera is based in Devizes and was founded back in 1990. It produces both static and touring versions of many classic operas. It’s supported through sponsorship, fund-raising events and by ‘Friends’ of the Company. It’s all done on a voluntary, amateur basis – which makes it worthy of everyone’s support. It’s yet another jewel in Devizes’ crown.

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This production has its last two performances tomorrow (Friday) and on Saturday, for which there are still just a few tickets left. So, if you haven’t already done so, make plans to get yourself out to Lavington and have yourself a great night out! And – reviewer’s tip here – get yourself one of the padded seats!

 

White Horse Opera Website

 

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Gimme me Some Tickets!

“We’ve got a two-hour set and every single song is one which everyone knows. You can’t beat the classics,” James, Frontman of Gimme Some Lovin’ reassures me, ahead of their appearance at Devizes Scooter Club.

The 1970s and 80s were not kind to Carmarthenshire’s largest town, Llanelli. Dependant on the coal mines for tin production, it felt the fate of their closure and fell into economic decline.

If Wales isn’t a breeding ground for raw musical talent enough, when hard times befall an area it’s affiliated with a rousing in the creative. I wondered if this was a driving force behind the Llanelli-based soul covers band, Gimme Some Lovin’ so I figured I’d catch a few words with frontman James, prior to their gig at The Devizes Scooter Club on Saturday October 27th.

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But as it turned out, Llanelli is just a base. “If I’m honest,” he replied, “we’re from all over the place. I’m from Cardiff, the guitarist is from the vale, and the brass guys are from Swansea. It’s a big demographic too; from late 20’s to those with bus passes.” While I’m not quite eligible for a bus pass, yet, that’s brilliant news for the Scooter Club, who are quickly building a reputation in Devizes for putting on high quality events, which despite its retrospective ethos, surprisingly attracts a wide age group too.

Gratitude to the Scooter Club, for sourcing recent acts such as the dazzling All That Soul; it reassures when a billing arrives in our town which we may not have heard of. This said, Gimme Some Lovin’ can sell out a show in Wales, as they have next weekend in Cardiff, and as James proudly states, “We had a near-capacity crowd for the Monmouth Festival (5000+.) We sell out the Neon in Newport every year with our Christmas show too.”

So, with status assured, what’s in a name? I denoted the Spencer Davis Group’s classic single in our chat, a song which they wrote and arranged in just half-hour, and recorded the following day, under pressure from Blackwell for a hit. Its attraction, though, is in its simplicity, surely? “Is it a silly question to ask,” I asked James regardless, “if you’re going to play The Spencer Davis Group?!”

“How could we not?!” he replied, yet it was only an inbetweener question to probe James about what we can expect on the 27th. “It’s very much a classic soul set,” he continued, “I’d say that we’re very much like the Commitments; classic soul with a modern edge. I think our front-line vocalists take us a little further away from the originals too, as they’ve all got massive, unique voices that seem to elevate the tracks, especially live!”

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The more the enthusiastic frontman eludes the details the more eager I am to catch this band at the Cons Club. James, a songwriter himself gasps at the idea the Spencer Davis Group could knock out their namesake single in such a short time, “sometimes the best ones just fall out. I can’t say I’ve ever managed anything in half an hour though!” But it’s unlikely we’ll hear any original material, “We tend to stick to covers,” James expressed, “We’ve been considering getting some original tracks in there but, with so many great songs to pick from, it’s impossible to decide what to drop!”

While the trend for original compositions on the local live music scene is a constant deliberation between artist and promoter, the Scooter Club know their crowd, and this closing statement from James: “We’ve got a two-hour set and every single song is one which everyone knows. You can’t beat the classics,” is so pertinent it’s easy to visualise this night being a soul stonker for Devizes.

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I’m smitten; the Club will be so glad if you made it too! Tenner tickets to Gimme Some Lovin’ are at usual outlets, The Cons Club and Vinyl Realm, and even Jeffersons where you can fill your soul with the best breakfast in town (the things I say for an extra sausage know no bounds) While there’s a price given on the door at £13, seizing an advance ticket is advisable, even if your name is Spencer or Davis.

Gimme Some Lovin’ on Facebook

Devizes Scooter Club on Facebook

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Upstairs at Jacks with Bryony Cox

I don’t know who “they” are, but Bryony tells me they say you shouldn’t mix dry and wet mediums. “I thought why not,” she shrugs, as we ponder a stunning pastel and ink landscape of Alton Barnes.

Why not indeed? In this painting of an atypical day in Wiltshire, a dark cloud looms over the down, the ink emphasises its shadows across the fields impeccably. In art, rules are made to be broken, provided you understand them first, and judging by the range and panache of Bryony Cox’s paintings, she certainly does.

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You’ve a day left to drop into Upstairs at Jacks and see this Devizes based artist, who studied and remains in Falmouth, and her humbling exhibit as part of Marlborough Open Studios; I suggest you do. I first met Bryony as an aspiring singer, but it’s in her paintings where she really shines.

“You’ve got to be the youngest artist at the open studios, haven’t you?” I asked, knowing how to flatter a girl! She suspected she was but wasn’t completely sure. If it’s true her work certainly fits the bill, it comes across as sophisticated and as mature as anything else on display throughout the county.

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A moody sky landscape takes pride and place, so we ponder Turner; it’s takes no words to see his influence on Bryony’s work. Turner has that instantly recognisable style, rare in a landscape artist and as well as major inspiration, I can see a definite style in Bryony’s work developing.

She appears most comfortable with landscapes. Although there’s a detailed range of pencil studies of animals and wildlife, some sublime scenes from travels in Sri Lanka and even an instantly recognisable wildcard of fellow singer George Wilding with birds nesting in his scraggy hair to add a slither of humour. Although these other subjects show Bryony’s skill has range, the landscapes are simply breath-taking.

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Beauty in small moments of stillness is the essence of what she wants the viewer to engage with; I was just passing while on my way to the supermarket! Unusual for me to do the shopping, I find myself very structured and meticulous while undergoing the task, ensuring I get only what I need and get out as fast as possible. This is so unlike me, who favours to stop and stare at the wonders around me, so if you’ve a spare quarter hour or more, need a break from the shops as I did, I’d recommend you stop by Upstairs at Jacks tomorrow and check it out.

Bryony’s Website

 

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Devizes Scooter Club’s Grand BBQ

All images used with kind permission of Ruth Wordly

@ MoongypZy Creative Photography

 

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If last weekend in Devizes belonged to rockers, as the Sports Club shook by the awesome Saddleback Festival, it was small mercies for the Mods this Saturday as Devizes Scooter Club hosted a more moderately proportioned charity BBQ day, which wasn’t without equal summer fun and frolics.

The corner of Hillworth Road and Long Street became a haven for scooter enthusiasts, who’d travelled from far and wide, and local lovers of soul, reggae and ska who gathered outside the Conservative Club to raise some funds for the Devizes and District Opportunity Centre.

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How much was raised at this tender morning moment (at the time of writing this on Sunday) is unconfirmed, majority of organisers I’d wager are taking a fully-earned rest, if not nursing a sore head!

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I’ll let you know the grand total as soon as I get some feedback, but cake stall helper Paula told me she’d sold twice as many as last year’s family fun day, as husband Andy, whose task it was to man the barbeque looked vacantly into space through sheer tiredness. “I reckon he’ll be flipping burgers in his sleep,” I imagined.

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The bar and garden packed out by lunchtime, extending to the car park, which converted into a showroom of lamberttas and vespas, with an added parts stall. As enthusiasts admired each other’s “hairdryers,” their families enjoyed the plethora of side stalls, the hall of bouncy things (castle and a Gladiators-styled battle arena) and the quality music.

Contrary to their name, Swindon’s Daybreakers turned up early afternoon. Thank heavens I figured, lesson learned that day; a cider breakfast does no good when attempting to operate a mixer. Thanks to Tony who danced around me doing all the technical wizardry and gave our musical show a voice.

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By 2pm The Daybreakers were off, with no one willing to stop them they revved through a glut of benchmark early 80s pop, the likes of the Specials and Dexy, to sublime renditions of crusty rock, such as the Levellers. Wherever Cath, Gouldy and gang land there’s guaranteed to be a blinding show and today was no exception.

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An awesome team effort blessed the event with an uncompromising community spirit. From face-painted kids guessing names of teddies, shooting footballs and munching cake, to adults estimating the weight of a ham, shooting down beers and munching burgers, a village fete atmosphere ensued with a retrospective, hedonistic angle, as opposed to being all vicars and teacakes on the lawn.

By late afternoon Chippenham duo, Blondie & Ska had pitched inside and began their dazzling show; a precise Blondie tribute meshed with other two-tone classics in a style as if Debbie Harry would’ve covered them. They made a fantastic sound for just a duo and relished every minute despite fatigue setting in with the punters, who tended to loiter outside to begin with.

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With most exhausted from the day’s affairs already, it took a while for the show to push the audience into gear, hangers-on remained in the shadows of the garden to begin with, or those with families retired home with worn-out youngsters. I thought it a shame the club could’ve shown how we welcome acts as good as Blondie & Ska, but the thought abruptly ceased as the evening took hold and sweltering members graced that dance floor.

I offered a rock steady break for the band, but dancers yearned for some Northern Soul, so that’s what I did. Then Blondie & Ska continued and took us to into to the close. If you need more of these guys, or if you missed this thoroughly enjoyable show, I strongly advise you check out future gigs on their website. Closest to us, is The Wroughton Club on August 11th, The Royal Oak Corsham the day after, and the Gladstone Road Club in Chippenham on October 27th.

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As for the Daybreakers, well they’re never to be missed. Catch them again for an afternoon in Devizes, when they’ll be at Vinyl Realm on August 4th, and check their Facebook page for an extensive gig guide.

Back to the BBQ Day though, it was in observing the quantity of people gathered, and their enjoyment of the day which gave me both enormous optimism for a very successful Scooter Rally next summer, and a pride in our small town’s Scooter Club, where everyone contributed a gallant effort to ensure a grand day out was had by all, most laboured until they dropped, notwithstanding, some money was raised for our preschool for children with disabilities and learning difficulties. So full steam ahead for the Scooter Club now, as tickets for a brilliant sounding, soultastic Motown-eske band, All That Soul, are now on sale at the Cons Club, Jeffersons and Vinyl Realm.

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