Female of the Species, Back for 2019!

Even if they are deadlier than the male, Devzine still loves The Female of the Species. Separate they are dynamic performers, each assigned to the crème of local bands, but when they get together it’s like the Spice Girls were librarians. We’ve covered their Melksham Assembly Hall annual fundraising gigs in the past, now they look set to take 2019 too.

Recently announced date with the ladies then, 30th November and supported by some so far unannounced special guests, this show will be knockout, believe me, witnessed it last time. It’s becoming as traditional as Christmas, this annual jaunt for solo singer Charmaigne Andrews, Jules Morton of Train to Skaville, Nicky Davis of the Reason, Julia Greenland of Soulville Express and last but my no means least, the one and only Claire Perry of Big Mamma’s Banned.

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They blend all their separate influences to create one super party as polished as Mrs Bucket’s (pronounced Bouquet) mantlepiece, and as about as much fun as an orgy in zero G, not nearly as fruity, but it does at times border. Devizine interviewed them all in one go, a occasion I’ve still not recovered fully from, and we celebrate this announcement with bell on.

So, bookmark the date, tenner tax, and all, I mean all, proceeds go to a chosen charity each year. This time it’s for Stepping Stones. Stepping Stones is an Opportunity Group for children with special needs. From Ages 0-5 with varying levels of need, Stepping Stones, based in Trowbridge, covers the West Wiltshire Area from Trowbridge, Melksham, Westbury, Warminster, Bradford on Avon and all the surrounding villages.

 

This non-profit organisation is only partly funded by Wiltshire County Council. Each year they have to raise £40,000 in order to continue to provide the service to the children. They pay for extra therapy sessions for the children and also fully fund both the Music therapy and Hydrotherapy sessions. There can be no better way to support this worthy charity then to party with the Female of the Species!


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Fund-Raising Female of The Species up for Community Civic Award

Knicker incidents, gaffer tape and award ceremonies, I chat with the Female of the Species; defo deadlier than the male!

 

Last year was full of highlights for me, perks of the job. Despite downsides; attending on my Jack Jones, not finding a single person I knew and having to stay sober to drive home, one particularly memorable evening was at the packed Melksham Assembly Hall in September, for the annual get-together of an explosive all-female local supergroup, The Female of The Species, in September.

 
The annual gig has run for three consecutive years, the first raising money for the mental health awareness charity, Mind. 2017 was donated to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The girl’s raised just over £3,000 last year for the fantastic youth community project, Young Melksham, and for all their efforts, the Female of the Species have been selected for a Community Civic Award. They attend an award ceremony, at the Mayor’s Reception on 22nd March, at the Assembly Hall.

A huge congratulations to the supergroup, constructed of female leads in local groups: Claire Perry of Big Mama’s Banned, Nicky Davis of the Reason, and People Like Us, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews, Jules Moreton of Train to Skaville, and of course, their backing band, including Train to Skaville’s saxophonist Karen Potter. I thought I’d create a group chat with Nicky, Jules, Claire and Julia in order to send my congrats and have a chat about how they feel about receiving the award; glutting for punishment?!

 
I decided to open with, “afternoon ladies, sorry for a group chat but it is just you girls and me, please be gentle,” but consider I may’ve been asking too much.

 
A moderate reminder from Jules, “Gentle is not in our vocabulary Darren.”

 
I asked for confirmation, “deadlier than the male, eh?”

 
“You know it,” Jules replied, “and thanks, we’re delighted about the award.”

 
“I guess the first question is, where does this take the FOTS next, I know you were thinking about more than the annual gig?”

 
Nicky replied with emoji, “London O2, then America, then world domination!”

 
“Yes,” Jules bought it down a peg, “we’re looking at doing two, one in Devizes and one in Melksham, or what Nicky just said!”

 
Prior to the interview going completely off on one, as I suspected it would, I asked, “do you see this more as a get-together, being it’s an amalgamation of groups, or could it become a gigging group?”

 
“We’re working towards gigging group!” Jules informed.

 
Nicky added, “we think we’d all love for it to become a regular gigging band, if we could make it work!”

 
The girl’s certainly bounce off each other, verbally mind, steady on. Banter ensues, and from recalling the noise in the green room of the Melksham Assembly Hall, equally as loud as the gig, I’m fully aware they get on like a house, or even, residential estate on fire. But, what about their respective bands, are they jealous of the accolade?!

 
“No jealousy at all from my lot,” Nicky confirmed.

 
“Some gigs will be for personal revenue,” I asked, “rather than charity?”

 
Perfectly understandably, “yes,” Jules confirmed, “after 5 years of us paying for rehearsal rooms, travel expenses etc, it’s about time we earned ourselves a few quid!”

 

Will they do an annual fund-raiser this year too, though?
“Every year!” Jules exclaimed, “We won’t forget our roots.” We chatted on ideal venues in Devizes, which is never simple, Female of the Species draws crowd, and being there’s five divas here, they’d need a lot of room. I’d have to be careful how I put that to them though!

 
“Yes,” Claire Perry finally entered the chatroom; when all hell is due to break lose, “…need lots of room to shake our thangggsss!”

 

Cor blimey!

 
“Will you be doing a song or two at the mayor’s reception,” I asked, in an attempt to keep it refined, “or just getting a badge and certificate?”

 
“I’m going for the champagne!” Nicky laughed.

 
“Haaa!!” Claire, stuck on the previous subject responded, “be warned…some of us have ‘thannnngggs’ that need a wide-angle lens!?”

 
That’s simply not true, it’s all about the bass, no treble. “It’s a beautiful thang,” I pay compliment, “am I quoting you on that Claire?!” I reiterated, “let me rephrase: I am quoting you that!”

 
To Claire, it’s all meat and no gravy, considering she should ask for extra gravy on the menu choice, I guess the girls get fed at this award ceremony. “That’s fine Darren, but I’m the naughty one! – the girls might have to bring a roll of gaffer tape to keep me schtum!”

 
Jules finally answers the actual question, “We won’t be performing at the awards ceremony, this will be the only time that we can all get together and enjoy a drink or two! I’ve got the gaffer tape, Claire. We also thought we would make a little video entitled ‘a girl’s guide to gigging’. Between us we have some of the most hilarious gig stories.”

 
I guess it’s good to trade off on other’s gigging experiences, “what of gigging for girls, how does it differ than gigging for boys?” I’ll probably regret asking.

 
“I don’t think a gigging boy has ever had to ask a total stranger to help them out of their dress because it’s totally stuck to them and they can’t do it themselves!” Jules replied. Boy George, Jules?

 
“Do the knickers show through the dress?” Nicky added, “Can I get away with performing in my hoodie or do I really have to make an effort? One plus side- if the voice isn’t on form, I can wear a low-cut top and distract the audience from my crap singing by wobbling the boobs around a bit!”

 
Taken with a pinch, when recalling how Nicky sublimely covered “Heard it through the Grapevine,” at September’s gig. Still, I’m getting a tad hot under the collar. Meanwhile, Claire belts in with caps lock stuck on, “THE FRONT ROW HAVE TO HOLD ON TO THEIR BEVERAGES IF I HAVE VOICE PROBLEMS NICK!! Back stage stories; we were toying with one of the chapters entitled: Is that meant to be hanging out? Oh, wait…I’ve got an industrial safety pin in my sponge bag that should hold it?! … followed by the chapter…. NO IT WON’T!”

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I can see where this is heading, consider making my excuses; Nicky advised I make a run for it. But at this point, Julia Greenland joined the conversation, “Geez how do I even start cutting in on this one?! It’s a closely guarded secret that a few of the band went on stage ‘commando’ as they had got the wrong knickers for their outfits; no names!”
Suspect Jules gave the game away, “I know Julia has a couple of wardrobe malfunction stories,” she mused.

 
“You’re still on record,” I felt the need to remind them, “things will be taken down.”

 
“Can you see why we we’re deadlier than the male?!” Claire asked me. Feared answering, I’m asking the questions!

 
“For once I’m speechless,” Julie admitted, “either that or holding back. Once I get started there’s no stopping me…. us girls have a lot of stories to tell….”

 
Lo-and-behold a selection of those stories were relayed to me; you don’t need hear of them! “Have you considered a gig/festival with all your respective bands playing?” Not to change the subject or anything like that.

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“Many times!” Nicky clarified, “It’s just getting all our band members available on the same date.”

 
“Yes,” Julia approved, “but it’s a mammoth task to organise something on that scale.”
“Darren,” Nicky checked I was still awake, “these girls need a lot of steering… it’s like herding cats at rehearsals!”

 
They all agreed, and it was high time to least attempt to bring this rabble of an interview to a close; being as they make the Spice Girls look like the St Winifred’s Choir, I contemplated, “one idea; what about recording a charity single?”

 
“There’s no one quite like Grandma?” Claire pondered.

 
“Do They Know it’s a Knicker-less Gig at all?” I considered.

 
“…. only if you tell ‘em!” Jules added, despite the fact I explained I’ll print whatever they say!

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“Don’t you dare!” Julie said, “Spinal Tap have nothing on us.”

 
“I meant as opposed to; Do they know it’s Christmas,” I explained. “That’s it; I’m sooo out of here!”

 
“Coward!” Julie joked, as Jules advised I did leave, to save myself. The only thing really becoming clear, The Female of the Species is a tightknit girl gang, with seamless talent, precariously hilarious banter, and hearts of gold; well done to them for this amazing award.

 

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The Return of the Female of the Speices

Wow, 11th September 2017 this article dates back to: “Female of the Species, boil ska, soul and blues influences to simmer Melksham for the Air Ambulance.” In Devizine terms that’s ancient and a gentle reminder we’ve nearly reached our first birthday.

 
Being one of our first pieces it has to be said, not only is it of far better quality than the type of rubbish I’m now putting out, but it had an inspiring theme! The reason I bring it up, because the local, all-girl supergroup The Female of the Species, which was its subject, are at it again, and tickets for their gig at the Melksham Assembly Rooms are now on sale.

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Tackily pasted from last year’s event, I wrote: “Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, form the supergroup for Live on the Night, at the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday 30th September.” So, other then being pushed back a day, I asked Nicky if anything else has changed?

 
“Claire (Big Mama) no longer performs with the Misfitz,” noted Nicky, “instead she’s now with ‘Big Mama’s Banned.” Jules added, “The girls are delighted to announce that joining us as part of our band line up this year, on sax, is my fellow ‘Train to Skaville’ band-mate, the awesome Miss Karen Potter.” So other than this it’s much the same and on target to rock the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday the 29th September.

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Karen Potter

This year’s event is subtitled “Raising Money Through Music,” and is in aid of Young Melksham, a registered charity which “work as a community to provide all children and young people with opportunities to thrive, develop and participate.” Young Melksham really makes a huge difference to the lives of youth in our area, by hosting more events than I can list here, including The Melksham Young People’s Awards.

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Click for more info on Young Melksham

They make trips to shows locally, hold a variety of regular weeknight “youth club styled” workshops and events from their Canberra Club, from cookery to sports. They even run a shuttlebus to get kids there safely. The policy of Young Melksham is: “advancing in life and helping children and young people by developing their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as independent, mature and responsible individuals; advancing education, providing recreational and leisure time activities in the interest of social welfare designed to improve their conditions of life.” They even have fully-trained counsellor and listening support workers when youth need a friendly face and a listening ear.

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Supporting the supergroup this year will be young songstress with that oh so soulful voice, Laura Jayne Burt, Melksham’s guitar/soloist Sarah Deer and batting for the boys, Bath’s acoustic duo Ben & Tim. This is one unmissable annual extravaganza which takes the best elements of all these local groups and combines them into a blend of reggae and ska, soul and Motown, blues and rock. It can only guarantee too ooze with local talent and blow the roof of the Assembly Rooms, for just a tenner a ticket, with ALL proceeds going to this fantastic charity-based community project…..and it’s full of gorgeous ladies; what’s not to like?!

 

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Female of the Species, boil ska, soul and blues influences to simmer Melksham for the Air Ambulance

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Deadlier than the male, The Female of the Species is an amalgamation of female musicians from various local bands who team up to host charity gigs; what’s not to like?

 
Nicky Davis from Warminster based People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, form the supergroup again for “Live on the Night,” at the Melksham Assembly Rooms on Saturday 30th September.

 
Seriously not to be missed; Beginning by showcasing two young performers; James Dempsey and Laura Jane Burt, giving them stage time and experience. The show then continues with People Like Us. The finale, Female of the Species sure to be the icing on the cake. Blending their influences in a mash-up of reggae and ska, soul and Motown, blues and rock, how on Earth do they govern what genre is coming next?

 
I thought I’d hassle Jules of Train to Skaville for an answer. “Each of the girls chooses three or four songs from their band’s set list,” explained the self-confessed rude-girl, “and then we add in the stuff we sing together.”

 
The Female of the Species first formed for a one-off gig at the Civic Hall, Trowbridge in 2014 for the Hope Centre in Southwick, a charity for adults with learning difficulties,  “but it was so successful,” Jules continued, “we had no choice but to do it all again….and again.”

 

 

 

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This news nugget keeps getting better though, as this year they’re fund-raising for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The previous appearance at the Assembly Hall in Melksham, back in 2015 raised £2,920 in aid of WILTSHIRE M.I.N.D Mental Health Charity. The founding gig at The Hope Nature Centre in Southwick in 2014 I previously mentioned, raised an amazing £3,395.

 
While the next Train to Skaville is boarding from the White Swan, Trowbridge, Big Mama and the Misfitz only coming as close to us as The Fox and Hounds in Colerne on 4th November and the next People Like Us gig being a longer bus journey to Bath, at the Westgate on 22nd, here’s something in easy reach and all for the greatest cause. Tickets at just a tenner can be snatched from the Assembly Rooms or online here.