Back Wood Redeemers Squash into the Southgate

Yet another blinding night’s entertainment at the Southgate, as Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers came, saw and kicked ass….

 

His banjo to one side for a beer break, Flounder Murray perched on the step as I defined the live music scene in Devizes as thriving. As most Saturday nights we were spoiled for choice; People Like Us, I explained, popular locally, playing the Three Crowns, and there’s Britpop trio Billy Green 3 heading the Crown, rock n roll at the Rotary’s sixties-themed Presidents Night at the Cons Club, an Elvis tribute at the Cavalier and a gin and bourbon festival at the Corn Exchange. Not even touching upon various village gigs, such as Splat the Rat who played the Cross Keys in Rowde. I really need a clone, or five!

The area’s population is approximately 31,000, I’ve researched now, but returned the question on the night with a blank stare. Inevitable if you’ve not heard of Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers, this one passed you by. Alas, you missed out on what was a no-brainer for me, since Flounder last appeared here as part of the band The Boot Hill All Stars and blew the roof off with an original blend of grinding, upbeat folk and gypsy ska. It was one sweaty night. Though a quieter Saturday at the trusty Southgate didn’t damped the atmosphere, just rather more intimately contained.

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An altogether unusual seven-piece band squeezed into the tight space, I expected no less then crusty beards, the circus attire of vintage suits, bowler hats, clown trousers and stripy tights and anything goes. Armed with an electric guitar, harmonica and drums, nothing unusual there I’ll grant you, but throw in a banjo, two, yes two double basses, a pink electric mandolin made to look like a mini guitar, and a fellow propped in the alcove with a trombone, might just invoke an appropriate image as to how bonkers it was; might.

Described as “songs of dark country, twisted blues & religious fervour,” BWR did what it said on the tin. The mood on my entry was melodically paced; on asking Flounder the difference between them and the Boot Hills he expressed the hunt for vintage blues or country songs, even gospel and the ethos of twisting them into this west country folk. We talked of ska and how it developed in a similar manner as rock n roll, those rhythm and blues rarities very much standard radio airplay across the Americas. Yet Flounder pronounced the need to cover artists such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave too, and with his archetypical gritty vocals these artists are apt.

Flounder though did not front all the tunes, the band clearly a collective as the double-bass man in tights straddled off his instrument to parade around like Bez of the Happy Monday’s, singing fervently with an expressive dance routine to boot. The second half promised to be dirtier, faster and grittier, and did just this. Through the promised murky country tunes, those Somerset folks threw everything at this original blend. Think of a Wurzels-Levellers combo as a Northern Soul band at the Hacienda’s Madchester era trying their hand at jump-blues, you might come somewhere near! Yet whatever pigeonholes you care to throw at it, in the jest of this band who daren’t take themselves seriously, it’s lively, crazy and highly entertaining.

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Danceable too, once a Nick Cave song finished, the Train to Skaville riff teased the audience, and Flounder bounced into Toots & The Maytals’ 54-46, only for a melody of Tainted Love and the Cure’s Love Cats to follow. Yet aside the crowd-pleasers, it’s the proficient general skulduggery of instrumentation and upbeat sound which fuses the frenzy of the Back-Wood Redeemers and makes them so appealing. The finale Bound to Glory being the icing on the cake, and perhaps more apt for the band’s description than those known pop tunes; but either way, all were executed sublimely and originally. It was, in short, a crazy, crazy night Kiss fans wouldn’t dream of.

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As it’s been said, hats, and many of them, off to the Southgate, who, while the others tend to provide us with safe options of tributes and locally renowned acts, and there’s nought up with that, The Southgate strive to hunt for something different, and bring alternatives to town. With the attitude of providing free live music every weekend, of course, there is also plenty room for our local favourites too and while these make the best and most crowded nights here, when The Back Wood Redeemers are back around this zone, you’d be a fool to miss them.


© 2017-2019 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 Relevance of Mike Barham

After a “knackering weekend” Devizes music scene’s gentle giant rests up, prepping for All Roads Lead to Frome on Saturday, where he’s one of twenty acts to be thrown onto the Cheese & Grain’s stage. He sends me Relevance, new single, out tomorrow (30th August) telling he’s “been sitting on it for like, two years, never got round to recording it, and over the summer hols I just thought; you really should give this a go, otherwise it’s just a stopper in the pipe.”

Have to rub some stubble, yes, literally have a number of them myself. Often apposite to stockpile ideas, but creative tend to doubt them the longer they linger. Yet every now and then, your scrapbook is worth browsing, dust off a rough and finish it.

“Exactly,” Mike agrees, “it’s one of those things I just needed to get off the mental shelving you know? Not a clear-out, because it’s no good, but more like; stop resting on my laurels and progress!”

Pardon the pun, but relevance to that conviction, doubled with the notion he confesses nerves writing, recording, mixing and releasing this solo single by himself for the first time, Relevance is not only Mike on his best behaviour, it’s a prodigious single, emotive and fuller than anything you may previous have heard from Mr Barham.

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Image by Nick Padmore

Maintaining those grating bluesy vocals, for those familiar with his fiery debut album, Altitude with Attitude, expect later, acoustic tracks Signal Fires or Short, Never Forgotten rather than the blast of Bowser’s Castle or The Cider Song. Yet, think more evocative and shadier, a ripened Mike Barham, perhaps, after all we were talking about last week down the Southgate too, Mr B!

“It’s a bit of a mellower direction,” he describes, “reflective but no less direct lyrically I feel, sort of a City and Colour/Death Cab for Cutie vibe, very simplistic with just vocal, acoustic and one electric for texture.” It works for me, I envision Phil Cooper tipping his porkpie hat to its expressive maturity, and Jamie R Hawkins nodding approval at its narrative too.

Alongside working with his band Nerve Endings on some recorded material, here’s a poignant solo single which stamps Mike firmly on scene. If it’s with Nerve Endings, or solo, Mike Barham will entertain a crowd, undoubtedly, but here’s something with more universal appeal. Least I reckon, you’ll have to hear it for yourself.


© 2017-2019 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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What a May Day! Things to do Next Month; Part 1

Now your Easter eggs are nothing but screwed up tin foil it’s time to look towards May, and what’s in store for us during this early summer month. Part one, let’s get the first fortnight over and done with.

 

Week 1: Wednesday 1st May – Sunday 5th

 

First day of the month is a Wednesday, so it’s the regular acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes, an open Mic at The New Inn, Semington or a live stream of the The Royal Opera: Faust at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

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Thursday 2nd jabs at your funny bone, when the Moonrakers Comedy Night sets into the Cellar Bar, Devizes. Ed Pownall presents headliner Sol Bernstein, returning after twenty-five years of semi-retirement, only playing nursing homes. He’s performed all over the world at venues including The London Palladium, New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Paris Olympia, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and Scunthorpe Baths, but it’s at night clubs where Sol really comes to life. With opener, Craig Deeley, a finalist in Jongleurs Last Laugh competition, and an additional special guest, tickets are £10, available form: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults, and on-line at “We Got Tickets.”

Along with a Charity Quiz Night for the British Heart Foundation at The Owl, Bromham, Swindon’s masters of downbeat, slack indie and wobbly pop, the Flour Babies bring an acoustic set to The Tuppenny with support by Callum McLean. Meanwhile, Chapel Arts in Bath has Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett (feat Buddy Fonzarelli) with support by our favourite, Tamsin Quin; Devizine is the #officialtamsinquinfanclub

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The second ale, cider and sausage festival, Hopdog, at the Woodbridge, Pewsey, kicks off Friday 3rd. Three days of family mayhem for a £10 advanced ticket, £3 for 12+ and children under 12 free. You can camp, for £7, space is limited so please book early via email: woodbridgeinnpewsey@gmail.com Friday sees Grizzly & The Grasshoppers. Saturday: Bob Bowles, Brian Stone, Jazz Wrann & The Ruby Welts and Sunday, firm Devizine favourites, the Larkin boys will be with Fly Yeti Fly and Kit Trigg.

Another festival in Blandford starts, the Teddy Rocks, in aid of Children’s Cancer, with a tribute-based line-up: details here: https://teddyrocks.co.uk/

Over in Devizes, the family club has Hariana, the UK’s number 1 tribute to Ariana Grande, and rumour has it, Vinyl Realm will host another fantastic Drum n Bass night at the Lamb, unconfirmed as of yet. Melksham Assembly Hall boasts Jethro’s The Count of Cornwall tour, while the Neeld have Queen II, and Bradford’s Wiltshire Music Centre hosts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. But if you like it raw, the Back-Wood Redeemers are at The Royal Oak, Bath.

Star Wars Day, oh yeah, bank hols too, Saturday 4th May, it’s over to Urchfont, for the Scarecrow Festival; always a lovely family day, starts at 9:30 through to Monday.

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Saturday night in Devizes is about rum and reggae at the Wyvern Club, where Michelle and Stuart Field’s Muck and Dunder rum bar hosts Swindon’s finest SN Dubstation while you dip into forty types of rum, ah-ha me hearties, tenner a ticket from https://www.muckanddunder.co.uk/ or failing that, dependable The Southgate has the great Sunset Service, free as always.

Out and about, you only need to get as far as Seend for beer, yep, it’s that time again for the Seend Beer Fest, their 19th, they know what they’re doing; gawd blimey, Train to Skaville will be there; love them. Certainly, reggae filled weekend though, with The Bob Marley Revival headlining Melksham Townfest at the football club, with Falling Fish, The Decibelles and whaaaa???? Train to Skaville will be there too??; must be an express train. The Ultimate Stone Roses are at the Assembly Hall, over in Bradford on Avon the NYJO Ambassadors and Mark Armstrong are at the Wiltshire Music Centre.

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Swindon has “kids for a quid” at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, PinkMac at The Waiting Room and some groovy Disco Voodoo, with DJ Ashley Beedle at Baila Coffee & Vinyl.

Spring in the Park is a family fun-day in Warminster on Sunday 5th, or round up the weekend at The Southgate, with a band I’ve heard only good things about, The Astral Ponies. Swindon has the cool indie-sixties mod band, Six O’clock Circus at The Woodlands Edge, and Bath has Pigstock at The Pig and Fiddle; two stages, with Falling Fish, Pompadour, Cut Throat Francis, The White Lakes, Luna Lake, Jamie Watson, Eilis Tucker, and our own favourite, Mr George Wilding.


Week 2: Monday 6th May – Sunday 12th

 

Bank holiday innt? Those Devizes Lions have the May Day Fair in the Market Place, and Corn Exchange from 9am- 4pm. On similar lines as previous years, but in addition to trades and charities, a new class of stall is being introduced, for artisans who produce goods for direct sale to the public.

Sound Knowledge Marlborough are celebrating the holiday with a bang, with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes from midday in Club Thirty8, for a wristbands-only short set, after which they’ll be in the shop signing copies of new album ‘End of Suffering’.

Wednesday is acoustic jam at the Southgate. Thursday is regular Kinks tribute, Kast off Kinks  at the Assembly Hall, Melksham, but if you think there’s too many broken hearts in the world, head for the Cheese & Grain, yeah, yeah, I know; Jason Donovan.

Friday 10th sees Tom C Walker at the Long Street Blues Club, Teddy White Band returning to The Southgate, and legendary punk poet, Dr John Cooper Clarke at The Corn Exchange. English comedian and writer, Mark Steel gives contemporary rants with his Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright show at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Sharron Shannon Band & Seckou Keita at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

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Saturday 11th start the day browsing the Stert Car Boot Sale, it’s Devizes Cancer Research’s grandest event, supported by Grist, please come and help make a difference to this invaluable charity.

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In all actual fact, it’s a very charitable day in Devizes; yep, we’ve our first Devizine Presents gig at the Cellar Bar. If you like Larkin, then it’s a double-whammy, because while Fin and Sam will be there, it’ll be possibly the only place to see them both, separately, Sam with a newly formed band and Fin with cousin Harvey as the Truzzy Boys. If that’s not enough for you, The Hound on the Mountain, the incredible Jordan Whatley will also be showing off his new songs and Gail Foster I will be in charge of intervals with her spellbinding and, possibly, rude poems. It’s a fiver or whatever you can donate, in aid of Devizes Opendoor; so please come down.

Opps, UPDATE ALERT! Please see the poster above for a change in schedule, unfortunately Sam had to pull out, but every clown has a silver lifeboat, hurrah for sixties mod-rock covers band, The Roughcut Rebels, who’ve stepped in to save the day and will be sure to add an extra dimension to the festivities.

If my thing ain’t your thing, I might just forgive you, especially if you try the Devizes Town Band’s concert, “Greatest Love Themes,” which will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s Support at 7:30pm, The Corn Exchange. In a change from the traditional black, band members will be wearing some other colours to make the concert more dementia friendly. I can identify with this; my nan suffered this terrible ailment.

Some people living with dementia see a black mat or flooring as a bottomless black hole, which is understandably very scary. They can also see people wearing black as floating heads, because they cannot identify black clothes.

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Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer’s Support said: “People’s perceptions can change when they have dementia and it is fascinating to hear from some of them how they now see colours. It is so heartening that Devizes Town Band have taken this on board for their concert and taken this extra step to make their performance truly inclusive and dementia-friendly. It promises to be a wonderful evening of music and the bright colours will only add to the celebratory atmosphere.” Tickets are £7.50 and you can get them from Devizes Books, or online via www.devizestownband.com

 
Alternatively, Hip Route are live at The Southgate, and the brilliant Indecision at The Owl, Bromham.

 
In Marlborough The Skandals are at The Lamb and Room 101 are at The Bear. The Blue Rose Band at The Pilot, Melksham. London Mozart Players at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, Operation 77 at The Woodlands Edge, Swindon. Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80’s at Cheese & Grain, Frome; take your own Rubix Cube.

 
For want a peaceful Sunday on the 12th the Marlborough and District Lions Club welcomes you to drive through the glorious bluebells at Westwoods, enjoy the Bluebells and help support your local Lions Club. This repeats again next Sunday.
Time travelling magicians Morgan & West present a jaw dropping, heart stopping, brain busting, opinion adjusting, death defying, mind frying, spirit lifting, paradigm shifting, outlook changing, furniture rearranging magic extravaganza at the Neeld in Chippenham Sunday afternoon, promising to be fun for ages 5 to 105.

 
That’s about it for the first two weeks of May, if you think it’s jam-packed you need to see the finale part of May’s what’s on article, which I’m working on now, okay – cut me some slack! But before I go, remember to check devizine.com regularly, as it’s updated, like, nearly every day, and you might well miss something.

 
Also, please shed my workload by letting me know about your event, or news stories; there’s only so much scrolling and clicking I can do. You can email your info to devizine@hotmail.com Tweet, message the Facebook page, or I now have a Facebook group called The Devizine Communications Group, to make it super easy to make me aware of your events and gigs and news and stuff, so use it, don’t abuse it, love it and get some free publicity for your efforts.

 
Most of all though, don’t whinge at me for omitting something if you haven’t actually told me about it, sounds bleeding obvious I know but you’d be surprised by that amount of people who do!

 

Hey, hey, hey; I have actually followed this article up, click the image to go to the rest of the month’s preview!

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Gail interviews Si Griffiths

So yeah, I’ve previewed pop surrealist and tattoo artist, Si Griffiths’ latest exhibit at the Black Swan Arts in Frome, (here) but our local poet/photographer Gail Foster popped down to chat with the man himself and here’s her video to prove it, complete with melancholic themes.

Thanks for letting me make a quick and easy post out of it Gail, saved me some typing, on a Sunday too! So yay, check it out, and note the exhibit runs until 26th May.

So go for a wander round the exhibition, see the artist at work, and hear him talking about his art.

 

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