12 Bars Later at The Southgate

Could be a pub crawl, more likely the chord progression of blues, but my drunken jesting query met with a shrug from the guitarist, the name 12 Bars Later means either, whatever!

I might not have been so far from a truth, in that over this bank holiday 12 Bars Later nail four bars; played the Crown at Bishop’s Cannings Saturday afternoon, switched to The Southgate later, and Sunday it’s over to Calne to play the Talbot’s mini-fest at 2pm, and the Gurkha Baynjan Restaurant at 8. Given a few more days I reckoned they could’ve shaken the rafters of a further eight!

Why is this narrowboat three-piece Wiltshire blues band fully-booked for gigs this weekend? Proof in the pudding, arm twisted, I nipped to the Gate to find out for myself.

Arriving late due to FullTone, it was immediately obvious, jigging up to the bar like the crows in Dumbo, their sound in its simplicity is irresistible, their stage pressence is immediately likeable. Confident Female fronted bassist, Helen Carter, banters well with the slight crowd and has the gritty vocal range of Joan Jett, while drummer and guitarist work in unison,  and we’re grinding to some down and dirty electric blues.

Yet there’s something more universally appealing here, 12 Bars Later will hook any classic tune duck, and ease it out of the pool with a blues makeover. The prize on the butt of said duck for anyone who books them will be enthused and delighted punters. This could be because they were once known as The Blue Rose Band, a seemingly more function band type name.

So yeah, while Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters and obviously apt Rolling Stones covers were adroitly delivered with passion and a deserved hard-edge, they applied the same ethos to some well-crafted originals, of which they’ve recently recorded for a forthcoming debut, and what was more for the supportive audience, sing-along covers like Elvis’ Burning Love, You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry, and even Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood. The latter of which they amusingly claimed was “as close to disco as we get!”

It’s an appropriate rebranding, for a highly entertaining pub band; certainly floated my boat, and likewise the blossoming crowd at The Southgate, as FullTone closed and folk headed over. For me, as acomplished and professional the sound of a full orchestra pushing pop hits is, it was of a generation next, for me, and I couldn’t nostalgically relate to Britney and Spice Girls covers any more than I did at the time. The Southgate was my safe haven, and boy, 12 Bars Later fit there like a glove, cumulative to another fantastic night at our dependable best pub in Devizes for the down-to-earth music aficionado.


REVIEW – Skinny Molly @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 20th August 2022

What A Sell Out

Andy Fawthrop

Seems ages since we were last turning up at the Con Club for Long Street Blues, but last night the new Autumn/ Winter season began, and there we all were again.  And what a way to start, with a cracking US band and a ticket sell-out….

The place was, therefore, obviously packed out. Whilst it might suit the music – hot & sweaty –I think it’s time that the Con Club looked into installing some air-con.  Just like the The Homing’s gig back in June, as part of the Devizes Arts Festival, the room was really stifling and airless.

Nevertheless we had some great entertainment to distract the huge crowd.  First up were Koerie & Andy, a duo new to me, introduced by host Ian Hopkins as recently discovered busking.  As might be expected with such a heritage, they were a little raw and rough around the edges, but very effective and entertaining for all that.  Using guitar, vocals and harmonica, they delivered a string of covers, including “Wild Thing” and “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”  The crowd gave them a good listen and a good welcome, and hopefully we’ll see them again.

But that was as nothing to the roar that went up went Skinny Molly finally hit the stage to start their 75-minute one-set performance.

This band, hailing mostly from Tennessee, is a major force on the US Southern Rock scene.  They were formed by guitarist/vocalist Mike Estes (formerly of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot), original Molly Hatchet guitarist Dave Hlubek (who has since left the band) and drummer Kurt Pietro (who also played drums for Blackfoot).  By 2008, the line-up was solidified with the addition of Blackfoot guitarist/vocalist Jay Johnson and  Grand Ole Opry stalwart bassist Luke Bradshaw.  And this was the line-up featured last night.

Skinny Molly’s mantra is apparently “Never let one fan leave a show disappointed” and they set about trying to fulfil this promise right from the outset, with a string of rock-infused blues and country numbers. There was newer SM material, mixed in with some older Skynard classics, and some covers.  Free’s “Wishing Well” was perhaps a surprise, less so Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road”, but the biggest cheer of the night of course came about an hour in when they launched in to probably their biggest hit “Sweet Home Alabama”.  But there was nothing one-dimensional about their material – we had a good old Southern gumbo of different ingredients, including southern rock, old country, blues, hard rock, and general Americana.

They built up the mood and the atmosphere, and there were soon plenty of folks rocking along and dancing. They kept the inter-song chat to a minimum, instead focusing of packing in as much music as possible, culminating in a standing ovation and well-deserved encore. I don’t think anyone went home disappointed, so I guess they did exactly what they said on the tin.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 8th October 202-   Eddie Martin’s Big Blues Band

Friday 14th October 2022  Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 5th November 2022  Robbie McIntosh Band

Friday 11th November 2022   Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th November 2022   Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio

Friday 23rd December 2022  Gee Baby I Love You


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival– Simon Calder @ The Corn Exchange 21st June 2022

Travel Tales

Andy Fawthrop

Well, we’re on to week two of the Devizes Arts Festival, but there’s been no let-up, as the entertainment continues to come thick and fast. Following Florian Felcitta’s wonderful Free Fringe performance in the Three Crowns on Sunday afternoon, and yesterday’s highly entertaining talk from gardening expert Adam Frost, last night it was the turn of The Independent’s travel writer and commentator Simon Calder.

I suppose there was a deep irony at play in Simon coming to D-Town, a place that last saw a rail service back in the 1960s, and which “enjoys” the bus services of a third-world country. Added to which, of course, was the added insult of it being the first day of the national rail strike. Simon’s day had started very early (as early as that of our esteemed milky editor) in his attempt to catch the first (still running) train of the day from London to Gatwick. And even then, his only purpose in being at Gatwick at sparrow’s cough was to be aboard the first Gatwick Express back to London, just so that he could report on the experience for various TV and radio stations. His quest turned out to be forlorn – the first train failed to run (staff shortages), and the second one only managed ten miles before it broke down. It was the start of a day which, he remarked in an understated stage whisper, had “gone completely Tango Uniform”. If you don’t know, Google it.

Following that, he’d made his way via Swindon, and the rigours of the cross-country 49 bus, to finally haul up in The Vize – and there were plenty of graphic pictures to prove it, including a shot of him in Tea Inc. doing yet another media despatch. Having played this early sympathy card, and got the near-capacity audience fully on-side, Simon was off on his more standard presentation on the life of a travel journalist, using photos of funny signs from around the world, personal travel experiences, and his reflections on such issues as the Covid travel restrictions, and the sub-optimal outcomes (for travellers at least) of Brexit.

His style was confident and brisk, with quips, asides and much dry humour in evidence. He was deft in praising the charms of D-Town, whilst playing to the gallery by snarking at Melksham, Swindon and Trowbridge. He’d done his homework all right. The main presentation having concluded, Simon spent a good half hour fielding audience-generated questions (ably delivered by DAF Chair Margaret Bryant) and providing helpful and hilarious advice on topics as wide as Avios points, best and worst places to visit, when to board an aircraft, the quality of airline catering, the value of rail travel, tourism in post-conflict Ukraine, and the feasibility (or otherwise) of electric planes.

An altogether professional and entertaining evening, and another coup for DAF in getting a media personality down to our neck of the woods.

The Devizes Arts Festival continues for the next few days until 25th June at various venues across town. Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk


Sarnie for Her Majesty!

There’s still time to suggest your ideal sandwich filling fit for the Queen! Devizes Food & Drink Festival are hoping for seventy sandwich fillings…..even I couldn’t eat seventy butties, but I never refuse a challenge, if they need a judge!

Lots have been suggested,” they say, “and BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davies was suitably horrified by Jenny’s favourite smoked mackerel and banana.” I’m with Sue on this, see, I love banana but not as a sandwich filling, no, no, no, let alone with mackerel; Jenny walks on the wild side of delicatessens… what about you?!

Though, it has to be said, banana is already a major component of the King’s sandwich. Yep, The Elvis Sandwich really is a thing, a thing of banana, peanut butter and bacon; I’ll leave the building.

They need more, to come up with a list of 70 before judging. It can be exotic, weird, or just plain delicious. Personally I say don’t overthink it, simplicity is key here, Queeny is probably sick to the back teeth with truffle and foie gras, escargot caviar et al. What she craves, I’d wager, is a good ol’ fish finger butty!

Winners receive a prize from the wonderful Jack Spratt sandwich bar in Devizes, and all you got to do is post your suggestion on the Devizes Food & Drink Festival’s Facebook or Instagram pages, to be automatically be entered into the competition. Plus, your sandwich will be made and sold at Jack Spratts, over the Jubilee celebrations.


Soraya French’s Art Demonstration in Devizes

The Lawrence Art Society welcomes Soraya French’s return to Devizes, on 7th March at the Devizes Conservative Club. She will be demonstrating a contemporary approach to landscape painting using acrylic inks.

Soraya is an International Artist, and Author based at Project Workshops in the UK, she also demonstrates for GOLDEN Artist Colours, runs private art workshops, and regularly teaches her painting techniques to art groups (including the Lawrence Art Society.)

The Artist Articles – Soraya is a regular contributor to the UK’s leading art magazine “The Artist”. Her articles vary from reviewing products to a four-part series about colour, figure painting, use of acrylics, mixed media, and many more subjects.Collins 30 Minute Acrylics – Many people think they don’t have enough time to paint, but in this attractive guide Soraya French encourages quick and simple learning.

Check out her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/sorayafrenchpswa

£2 for members. You can attend as a none member as a “try before you buy.”

REVIEW: Devizes Musical Theatre’s “A Gallery Of Rogues” @ Lavington Community Centre –Saturday 11th September 2021

Yes M’Lud!

By Andy Fawthrop

It’s not often that you’ll get me schlepping down to a Community Hall in the middle of nowhere (well, OK, Lavington) on a Saturday night for a dose of Light Opera, but…well…it seemed like a good warm-up for the BBC Last Night of the Proms which was due to be broadcast later that night – and so it proved to be.

Devizes Musical Theatre (DMT), in their wisdom, had chosen this slightly out-of-the-way place to perform “A Gallery of Rogues” as their 2021 production (their first since 2019 following Lockdown for most of last year). And thus, breezing my way past the various posters for WI and other local events, I found myself in this rather modern and well equipped hall.

The evening was in two parts – the first being a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Trial By Jury”, a one act comic opera, and the second being the company performing a number of well known songs from many different musical shows.

“Trial by Jury” is a comic opera in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was first produced in 1875, at London’s Royalty Theatre, where it initially ran for 131 performances and was considered a hit. The story concerns a “breach of promise of marriage” lawsuit in which the judge and the legal system are the objects of light-hearted satire. As with most G&S operas, the plot of “Trial by Jury” is ludicrous, but the characters behave as if the events were perfectly reasonable. This narrative technique blunts some of the pointed barbs aimed at hypocrisy, especially of those in authority, and the sometimes base motives of supposedly respectable people and institutions. The success of “Trial by Jury” launched the famous series of 13 collaborative works between Gilbert and Sullivan that came to be known as the Savoy Operas.

In this production, using mostly modern dress, no scenery, and virtually no props, the guys and gals from DMT had nowhere to hide. Using only a simple piano accompaniment, it was down to the strength and quality of the voices only. And, after a slightly nervous start, they pretty well nailed it, with each singer growing in confidence as the play progressed. The call-and-response choruses, so beloved of G&S fans, were used to great effect and the whole production swung along with very few flaws. Of particular note were Naomi Ibbetson as The Plaintiff, and Tom Hazell as The Defendant. The supporting roles, especially the three bridesmaids, were also strongly played to great effect.

The second half consisted of a series of songs from various musicals including “Cats”, “Oliver” and “The Wizard of Oz”, culminating in a full-cast version of the Lockdown classic “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Not a dry eye in the house.

For me, it was a good evening of entertainment, and well worth the trip out to Lavington. And I’d say the rest of the audience agreed, as the applause was hard and long. However, I’m still mystified as to why a concert that clearly took a lot of time and effort to be produced was only to be given this single performance, and why at such an out-of-town venue. Surely more people would have gone to see DMT in action if this had used a more Devizes-central location?

Future DMT productions:

The Wind in the Willows – 3rd to 10th April 2022 at Dauntsey’s School


Click here to buy!
Click here to win 2 free tickets!

Trending….

%d bloggers like this: