It was only a whistle-stop for me at Devizes’ best pub for original live music on Saturday, but long enough to sink a cider and assess; James Hollingsworth is fantastic….
Our roving reporter Andy informed me James is a blessing on the folk circuit, but this occasion, armed with enough loop pedals to make The Southgate’s alcove resemble the Millennium Falcon, he summoned his inner “progness” to embark upon a journey beyond three chords.
A captivating solo show, where pre-recorded backing tracks were not welcome, Frome-based James worked steadily and proficiently through his own compositions, as well as some covers, with complex arrangements built via hand percussion, voice and guitar effects.
Prominsing classics from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, The Beatles, Roy Harper, Jeff Buckley, Marillion and more. If I couldn’t stay for long, because I’m as not as omnipresent as I need to be, I picked out Hendrix’s Castles Made of Sand, and it was sublime.
So, only a quick note to say, for any music lover from folk to prog-rock, from the era of mellowed Flyod-eske goodness, James Hollingsworth works some magic. I’ll be making a bee-line next time he arrives at The Southgate, and so should you!
Without certified limitations on Devizine, I freestyle the boundaries of listing events upon the ethos if it’s conceivable and practical to drive to from our Devizes base, then what the hell, I’ll list it. While it’s laborious, and often impossible to include every Wiltshire pub with a man with a guitar yodelling Wonderwall in, I try my upmost, but the wider we journey the vaguer it obviously gets; I’m not flipping omnipresent.
I’m partial to listing events in Frome, though, despite it bordering my ruling, for two reasons; 1: The Cheese & Grain; the non-profit, community led, all-purpose venue, punches well above its weight, booking the quality of acts you’d expect to trek to a city for.
And 2: I get this overall perception of Frome being this little Somerset haven of alternative arts and culture; like a West Country Brighton, without a pier. But in all honesty, it’s hearsay; it could have a pier for all I know, for other than dropping in on my previous employment as a delivery driver, and to navigate its bypass on my way further west, I confess, I’ve never actually explored the centre of Frome; what-cha gonna do? I don’t do urban rambling, and deplore the mechanical façade of orthodox window-shopping.
In a weekend where I decided to bunk gigging, as previous weekends I’ve golloped three apiece, realise I’m addicted to writing and have to knock some-waffling-thing up for the sake of my sanity, even if it comes across school holiday assignment. Up until Sunday options were slim, Britain’s Got Talent the epicentre of entertainment ingested, followed by a surprisingly tricky quiz show hosted by the Not Going Out comedian, in which questions might’ve been easier if BGT hadn’t previously fried my cranium.
So, with Dad’s taxi booked to Longleat Forest with an approximate three-hour interval, I start contemplating how to kill said three hours. With strict satirical nonstarters like “keep driving,” “catch the first bus out of there,” and “end it all now!” being the responses to a Facebook post requesting ideas of how to kill three hours on a drizzly spring Sunday morning in Warminster, I made a note to reconnoitre why it’s considered so dismal and cultureless, other than its discouraging namesake relating to war, which is never much fun, coupled by my discovering a Warminster community hub website which, when you click their event guide comes up “page not found,” and perhaps sought to rectify this if possible, another time.
It was a no-brainer, head to Frome, Sunday mid-mornings aren’t the liveliest of times anywhere, so if I could find some hippy-chick knocking up a bowl of humus barefoot on the street, at least it’d be something. Noted I’d crossed state line as drystone walls envelope fields, hills get that bit steeper and road systems are purposely designed to ward off, or merely confuse the shit out of grockles.
To save diverting in circles, I implored myself to dump the car at the next available carpark and pray it was walking distance to the town centre. Cliché mainstream shop Marks & Sparks Food Hall and the Frome Job Centre provided clues, unimpressively. I mean yeah, they’ve got the archetypical charade of chain stores, though the borderline acceptable Subway being the only fast-food joint, if Greggs is endurable, and yay, they robbed me two quid to park on a Sunday to ascend vertical cobblestoned streets like Dale Winterton mountaineering, only to browse closed shops wondering why I didn’t slouch in the car playing WordLots on my Samsung.
What upped my spirits, other than a bakery sign saying Cornish pasties for £2.50 (I mean, who does that? Have I slipped through a wormhole to the nineteen-nineties, or is this the Isle of Wight?) was a window display of an arty emporium sardonically mocking Brexit and the travesty of the Conservatism regime through decorated mugs and other handmade merchandise. I smiled at the audacity of a shop which would be petrol-bombed by our knuckle-dragging majority of Daily Fail readers back in Devizes before it opened; I’d fit in here.
For want of getting lost, I wobbled back down the hill, locating The Sun Inn, one watering-hole with a Tardis for a door I’d noted for holding the odd live music event; perhaps that was my route back in time but without a rainbow scarf I couldn’t gain access, ramming the door only woke the dog and I assessed I was too early. Though by the time I’d detoured once more, governed by a broken compass, found another closed boozer I’ve listed as a music venue, uninventively named 23 Bath Street, I went on a hunch the side road by The George would be the way to my mecca.
Sure enough, over a bridge in a carpark a visage appeared, the golden wooded entertainment cathedral of The Cheese & Grain. With a café, The Grain Bar, on the side it was lively already, as a regular children’s clothes market, Little Pickles was just closing, allowing me to sneaky peak at the impressive venue. I could just imagine some great acts playing, who have in the past graced this stage. It was no Albert Hall, it was functional, yet in by modernism standard it was chic, alluring nonetheless.
I considered my tummy, at the café, but wandered off as on the way over to it, I’d seen another attraction beckoning me. Black Swan Arts is another point of interest, and I sheepishly entered, as a stranger does in a gallery shop. With some lovely art, you usually browse the circuit, make your excuses and go the way you came in, cos as much as I adore art, my wallet doesn’t.
Yet this was such a charming gallery, hosting plenty of workshops, it just fizzled into the Frome life already blossoming from its slumber outside. But I didn’t go out through the out-door, I sauntered to the rear of the shop to appear next in queue for the café, The River House, conveniently.
Handsomely expedient and adorably unpretentious, they kookily handed me a mini-figure of Batman’s Robin, rather than a spoon with a number on (which I secretly wanted to keep,) and proceeded to knock me up a hunky-dory mug of tea and perfectly toasted sausage ciabatta for a mere seven quid.
That’s when I got the bat-signal, sadly, my time was up and Dad’s taxi was back on call; just as I was getting into sharing my table with middle-aged beatniks far cooler than me. I pondered upon my return to the carpark, as a fellow sat on a bench practising his flute, Frome is a wonderfully original, outlandish place, deffo. If I was a younger, unattached lad, I could be persuaded to settle there, become part of the furniture at the Cheese & Grain.
But as it is, aging rapidly, rooted here with a settled family, and I must say, content with Devizes, I could only wish that our town council, our event organisers, and the great doers in town could take a leaf out of Frome’s books, shake off the partial frumpiness of Devizes, the discreditable tory grasp, and think outside the box. For all the great amenities we have in Devizes match Frome, yet our ability to utilise them as effectively, to accommodate everyone and their ways no matter how eccentric they might appear to others, sometimes, and I stress, only sometimes, falls beneath our potential; in, ha, you know, my honest opinion.
Though, I’ve returned home, added listings for The Cheese & Grain to our event calendar, as usual, but I mean, look, it falls within the ruling, really; they’ve got The Beat, The Feeling, Zion Train, Stiff Little Fingers coming up, they’ve even got Public Image Ltd, and thems worth driving the distances for, worth crossing border control into the land of somersetting for, if we can’t have Johnny Lydon here, punking up the Corn Exchange!
Coordinating an event in Devizes fundraising for the Ukraine has fallen wayside at the moment, I need a rethink. Meanwhile there’s lots of ways to help in Wiltshire and I thought I’d see if we can’t amalgamate them into one article….
Wiltshire Council has provided some FAQs on all aspects of fundraising, donating and housing refuges HERE, I’ve been in search for others.
Starter for ten, there’s some fundraising events coming up, starting tomorrow Tuesday 29th, at Downton Social Club, Salisbury, who have a big band concert, free with donations, just turn up after 7:30pm.
Wednesday 30th with a Community Supper at Devizes Corn Exchange, organised by Devizes Food & Drink Festival, details HERE, and Saturday sees punky rock covers bands Stone’s Throw and Izzy Barsby appear at Market Lavington Community Hall, tickets are £6, HERE.
Phoenix Brass have a concert for Ukraine at Marlborough Town Hall on Sunday 10th April, ticket info on the poster below.
If there’s one band in the UK most apt for a Ukraine fundraiser it’s the incredible lively and traditional folk-punk of The Ukrainians; I’ve seen them many years ago at the Endorset in Dorset Festival and they were unforgettable. Obviously originating from Ukraine they’re based in the north of England and have been working tirelessly raising £13,000 to-date, donating to Association of Ukrainians in GB and DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and have also committed to pay the travel expenses of two transit vans taking locally donated medical supplies to Lviv hospital. They play Salisbury Arts Centre on Saturday 23rd April with Pronghorn, Lump and Gypsy Jukebox. Tickets vary from £15 upwards, pay what you can.
Frome’s Cheese and Grain presents a Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal Event on Saturday April 30th with The Back Wood Redeemers, Mighty One, Back Of The Bus, Henry Wacey and DJ Patmandu, with all proceeds donated to the fantastic Frome Town Council’s twin town Ukrainian refugee appeal. £10 in advance HERE.
Over Easter half-term, 11th-14th April, and again from 19th-22nd, Trowbridge Town Hall has some Workshops in aid of Humanitarian Aid Centre. There are badges, flag making and sunflower sowing at £1-3, kids arts open competitions for ages 5-18yrs, and a prize raffle. There’s also an online auction of local and Ukrainian artists, with a live preview of work on 23rd April from 10am -4pm in the Old Court at the Town Hall. Details HERE.
Warminster has two Concerts for Ukraine at the Athenaeum Centre, on Fri 22nd and Sat 23rd April. All tickets are £10 HERE. Warminster Military Wives Choir, Bonner & Blake, The Echobirds, Hilary Pavey and Andrew Bazeley perform.
I’m sure there’s more yet to discover, everywhere you look there’s churches collecting donated clothes and food, there’s schools holding cake stalls, and so many other amazing efforts. If you know of some worthy to add here, please do let us know.
The response to this crisis has been overwhelming in Wiltshire. Like Wroughton businessman Cliff Barry who raised more than £20,000, bought a van and left last Thursday to deliver donations to the border. But so many others have rallied to the cause, donating or even opening their homes to refuges, it’s incredible!
WILTSHIRE for UKRAINE
Trying to find the best avenue to donate should our gig have happened, I joined a Facebook group, Wiltshire for Ukraine, assuming it was just a place to post fundraising efforts, folk looking to house refugees and visa-versa, and other general news on the theme. But I was surprised to hear Wiltshire for Ukraine is all these things and so much more. I spoke to admin Magdalena, direct from Poland, where her group are visiting charities and places dealing with help for refugees.
She was keen to point out, raising funds for smaller community groups is more effective now. They bridge the gap between big charities and its users. “Of course,” she explained, “big charities are super important and professionally help all in need. In a crisis like war help is needed immediately and funds collected by groups can immediately collect and give money to those most needed. At Wiltshire for Ukraine we collect money to help refugees who fled with nothing. We give them money directly and help them have a new start in foreign countries.”
To donate to WILTSHIRE for UKRAINE find their go-fund-me page HERE, and their Facebook group has so much more info of people going that extra mile, ideas on ways you can get involved, and information for those taking in refugees. Such as Salisbury’s Valeriy, raising £10,000 for personalised help to the children and their families inside of Ukraine who have no possibility to leave the war zone. Their GoFundMe is HERE
Another Marlborough based Facebook group called Ukrainians and their Sponsors in Marlborough and surrounding area is helping link Ukrainians needing homes with sponsors and is giving Marlborough residents a place to offer practical advice once they’re here. Find the group HERE.
There is so many amazing people locally, doing whatever they can, I am sorry if I missed you and yours, the beauty of the online blog though, this can be updated if you send me details!
I say everyone, but it’s the inbetweenies always at a loss during Halloween, I tend to find. Too old for patronising trick or treating, only a handful of idiots, sulking at their lack of Harbio, who opt for the terrorising old folk kind, which spoils it for them, and for younger kids too, when everyone under the age of eighteen is tarnished with the same witch’s broom.
Yet too young to attend adult Halloween parties, which we all know, generally end up as mindless drunken satanic orgies, full of naked chicks pouring the blood of scarified male counterparts over themselves in a hellfire pit of inequity to the sound of evil giggling, and thrash metal roaring from the rafters…. at least, in my mind it does.
What?! I’m speculating, I wouldn’t know whether they break out the leather, or not. I grew up in a household where the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain was considered American commercialisation, and since escaping the nest I built my own, whereby on All Hallows’ Eve I don a beanie and wander aimlessly in the background, as “protector” parent of hyperactive children, getting ecstatic about being out under street light.
I awkwardly grimaced at housekeepers like a vagabond, as neighbours loaded their pumpkin-shaped buckets with cheap confectionary they don’t like anyway. We’d join chains of other trick or treaters, my watchful duties waning with each grouping; safety in numbers I’d suppose perfunctorily, as I tire and they run off in merriment and sugar-fuelled frenzy. Responsibility is a bitch.
I’ve got cheap, Wilkos luminous paint on my jersey from a leaking zombie, whose mask is sagging where they broke the elastic, otherwise I blur into the background and children organise themselves, until one genuinely gets scared, and I get to return home, ignore door-knocking and slope on the sofa, groaning like a headless horseman, wishing one day they’ll grow out of it.
And before you know what’s what, they do, and you pity the complaining, realise you miss the thrill in their eyes, and await the welcomed subsequent phase, grandchildren, when you hope them to provide the perfect excuse to get back out trick or treating again; by this age you need no mask or makeup, but you can return them sugar-bursting; mwahahaha!
Anyway, enough of my problems, you came here wanting to hear about all the spooky events and monster mashes going down over the Samhain, and that’s what I’m about to do, just, you know, had to get that off my chest.
Although if I’ve missed yours, I can always add them, if you liked, just message, email or howl under the full moon when the wind is blowing my direction, but the first “halloweeny” type event we’ve found, is All Cannings’ Pre-School Half term Halloween Trail, starting on 23rd October and running until the 30th. Take your little ones to All Cannings, buy a trail map from the village shop and walk the village looking for clues to spell a spooky word! Put your completed maps into our box at the back of the village hall for your chance to win a Halloween prize.
Leading up to the Halloween weekend, Crazy P’s Ron Basejam brings some Halloween disco to Komedia on Thursday 28th, but Saturday is when the spookiness really comes out to play….
In Devizes, the trusty Cavalier have a children’s Halloween fancy dress disco, with prizes for the best dressed boy and girl. You’ll need a £3 ticket, available here.
Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe wonderful DJ, Holz Stone will be on the spooky wheels of steel for the Halloween fancy dress disco at the Wyvern Club. There’ll be hot dogs, burgers and sweet bags, a novel hook-a-skull game, guess the weight of the pumpkin and what’s in the box, as well as best dressed prizes. This one’s £2 per child, on the door.
For Devizes grownups, over 21s, there’s a DJ set from Houses of Joy Soundsystem at The Muck & Dundar’s Zombie Cocktail Special night. Free entry, walk-ins, favourably like a zombie, and feel free to dress up or down. I think they’ll need an exorcist like me, to purify those spirits!
And of course, the traditional Krazee Devil Halloween Karaoke Disco will be down the The Pelican, Devizes. Only numbers are limited this year, so if you want to Party Pelicano style this Samhain then shout Sarah-Jane on (01380) 723909.
The Truzzy Boys welcome fancy dress at their Halloween Party at the Churchill Arms in West Lavington, also on Saturday. Honey-Street’s Barge have a monster mash rock ‘n’ roll Halloween party, with Little Miss Blue Bass, Mutley and Rockin Rich. Best dressed wins a £20 bar tab, which beats a bucket of Freddos. They want only £6 off you for the pleasure, tickets here.
Meanwhile, over misty graveyards and ancient burial mounds to Bradford-on-Avon, where the Three Horseshoes host Strange Folk for a Halloween party. If you checked them out last weekend at the Southgate, or read our review, you’ll know this will be a great, and very apt Halloween venture. It should go without saying by now, its fancy dress, with a prize for best dressed.
In spooky Swindon, The Swiss Chalet have one hell of a show from 2pm onwards. Train to Skaville, The DayBreakers, Hip Replacements and Mark Colton bring the skalloween tunes, all in aid of the fantastic Big Yellow Bus Project. Door tax is just a quid, with mac n cheese and a chance to win a Nintendo Switch!
Vampires and zombies of Frome only need head to The Cornerhouse, where they’ll find the highly recommended Back Wood Redeemers, with a dark country, twisted blues and religious fervor eve of Halloween. Expect special guests and they’ll be introducing the MagiGant Ska Sound System. There will be dancing afoot! Bring your relevant body parts and dress up should the whim arise… you’ll be in good company.
But not everyone wants dancing afoot, and for a relaxed meal-type Halloween event, Rowde’s legendary George & Dragon have a Rocky Horror Tunnel Party, in, as the name suggests, their secret, aptly spooky, tunnel. Dress up in your favourite horror costumes for a three-course BMF supper, and a party to follow.
And on the Sunday, the 31st, The Roebuck Inn, Marlborough, has a Halloween Open mic Night, while over in Market Lavington’s Green Dragon, there will be all sorts of spooky bonkers things going on all day, perfect for kids and grown up kids alike; with the fantastic People Like Us playing from 8pm.
I’m sure that list isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll add your event if you tell me about it. Otherwise have a grand Halloween, and as I say, I’ll be maxing relaxing, safe in the knowledge my kids now consider themselves too old for the trick or treating fiasco. I mean, I’m not naming and shaming, but one of my nippers must be the only person who can lose a tooth bobbing for apples, for crying out loud into the cold night air!
So, who told the April showers that the lockdown applied to it? Come on, I want names! Last month of lockdown was dry and clement, as soon as things starts opening up again, it phased between drizzle and downpour; you can’t make it up.
Yes, I wrote this too soon; bang on cue, here comes the sun for June.
I reviewed Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5’s album Another Time Another Dimension, Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants album A Kitchen Sink Drama. Also, Sam Bishop’s great EP Lost Promises, a single from Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory’s called Can’t Come Home, and a new track from the Longcoats, Nothing Good. We also did a great interview with Dave Lewis, one half of Blondie & Ska. Reviews in the next few days will be an EP of Celtic punk from Liddington Hill, some awesome punkish blues from Elli De Mon, and the new album from The Lost Trades, due on 2nd June.
I started a new Sunday series, being the last one was so popular. No satire this time, just a reflection back thirty years to the era of the rave, from a personal angle; I’m having lots of fun with this, if it does make me feel old! This continues into June. So, without further to do, here’s what’s occurring in June.
Firstly, staying at home we can entertain you too. I’m gradually working through writing promotional material and sleeve notes for our compilation album, 4 Julia’s House, which, as it sounds, all proceeds will go to Julia’s House. This has proved more work than I anticipated for me, due to the most amazing line up of talent who has kindly donated a song. The penultimate entry was an exclusive rock steady track by Blondie & Ska, and the latest entry is by none other than Richard Davis & the Dissidents. See what I mean now, don’t you? Absolutely fantastic, massively hugely massive this is going to be, over three hours of genre-crossing music; something for everyone on there. Okay, I’ll copy and paste the artists featured; hold onto your jawbone.
A mahoosive thanks goes to: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Wilding, Richard Davis & The Dissidents, Barrelhouse, Tom Harris, Will Lawton & the Alchemists, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Nigel G. Lowndes, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, Barmy Park, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, Cosmic Shuffling, Blondie & Ska, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Oyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Meru Michae, Cutsmith, The Tremor Tones, Big Ship Alliance, First Born Losers, Dutch Money(s), and last but by no means least, Neonian, who is working on a track as we speak.
Phew, so, yes, who is as out-out as Mickey Flanagan in June? I know right, how surreal. I went to a pub, an actual pub, and heard live music last Saturday; down the trusty gate for those Daybreakers. Bloody fantastic it was too. Here’s some things to be looking forward to over this month. Note, this is in no way exhaustive, (which is what I’m going to be trying to keep up to date with it all!) You must continue to check our event guide, for details of all events listed here, updates of events, and even live streamed.
Half term sees us into June, ongoing from Tuesday 1st there’s holiday activities at Wiltshire Museum, which we welcome their reopening, and program of forthcoming events.
Also, back in business is the Nether-Street’s Farm Cookery School, who has a parent and child class called Cake Lady on Thursday 3rd.
The weekend sees The Devizes Lions Sports Coaching Weekend at Devizes Leisure Centre, IndieDay happening across Devizes town centre, meanwhile Devizes Southgate welcomes Texas Tick Fever.
There’s a Court Room Cabaret at Trowbridge Town Hall, Talk In Code play Swindon’s Level 3, with Atari Pilot, and Rude Mood are at The Vic.
Eddie Martin is live at The Bell in Bath, and we wish the Bath Reggae Festival a successful first event, let’s hope it’ll become an annual thing.
While we’re on about festivals, the following weekend, from Friday 11th is Kite Festival at Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire. Closer to home, Trevor Babajack Steger is at The Southgate, Devizes on Saturday, and don’t forget Lions on the Green in Devizes, Sunday 13th; let’s support their brand-new fund-raising event. Joh Griven also has a guided tour of the Heritage Walk of Devizes.
This sounds fun too, Mustard Brass Band live at The Bell in Walcott Street, Bath
Monday 14th there’s an important meeting online, a progress report on Wiltshire Museum’s hopeful move to the Assize Court.
Summer Solstice weekend, (solstice being 4:30 on Monday 21st) kicks off the Bigfoot Festival at Ragely Hall, Warwickshire. Closer to home, as it goes to press, the Kington Langley Scarecrow Festival is still happening. The HoneyStreet Barge presents Troyka, on Saturday 19th, Jon Amor’s King Street Turnaround at The Southgate, Devizes and Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue with the Pete Gage Band at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.
There are also two great charity fundraising events, Caroline Lowe as Amy Winehouse at Swindon’s Swiss Chalet, in aid of The Specialized Project, which acts as a fundraising portal for many charitable causes and projects. And at The Rose & Crown in Worton, Chloe Jordan, Mistral and the Celtic Roots Collective have a fundraiser for MacMillan Cancer Support.
To the last weekend of what will, finger’s crossed, be an amazing return to normality, on Saturday 26th, The Southgate, Devizes welcomes Blind Justice, and the brilliant Blondie & Ska play The Greyhound, Trowbridge. But I’m hopefully saddling up and heading east, for geetars and corset swinging fun at the Barge on HoneyStreet, where those Boot Hill All Stars plan to moor up, with Dry White Bones; that one will go off!
As far as I know, the legendary Black Uhuru at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Sunday 27th Blondie & Ska will be at the Royal Oak, Corsham. But as I say, loads more will be listed by the time we know what’s what, and hopefully a summer to remember is on the cards; just have to take responsibility for adhering to regulations and observing social distancing. Have a great June.
Sitting by a controversially purple outside bar, contemplating my debatable definition of the term “festival,” yesterday in Bishop’s Cannings, while Freddie Mercury sauntered past and … Continue reading “Top Marks For CrownFest”
Once a cover band, east Wiltshire’s rootsy four-piece Hooch have moved to writing and recording original material. Their discography goes onto music streaming sites today … Continue reading “Hooch on Streaming”
Full Tone Festival August Bank Holiday then, penny for your thoughts on that one…… Five irritating wannabes handpicked for their conflicting personalities vote on each … Continue reading “Full-Tone Stands Alone”
To celebrate the release of his new single “the Gathering,” featuring Jason Isbell and Muse’s Dom Howard, multi-award-winning Frank Turner, one of the UK’s most successful solo artists of the past decade, selling over one million records worldwide and playing to over two million people from small venues to a sold-out show at London’s famous Wembley Arena, announces a UK tour. The good news for Turner fans is, Sheer Music nabbed the man himself for two dates at the Cheese & Grain.
Out via Xtra Mile Recordings of Polydor Records, The Gathering is his first new solo music in nearly two years. That said, we did review his Buddies sequel album with Jon Snodgrass not so long ago.
Launching today, The Gathering is available to stream now across all platforms, alongside are the exciting details for a series of nine live show ‘Gatherings’, headed by Frank and Xtra Mile Recordings and running over summer 2021. Tickets for all shows on sale from 10am BST on Friday May 7th.
It’s said Frank Turner didn’t want to write a lockdown song. Over the past year he’s written and rewritten songs, trying to steer himself away from the subject that will no doubt dominate the charts for years to come. But for a man whose life and career are so intrinsically linked to live music, not referencing the dearth of festivals and gigs started to prove impossible. Not least since Turner himself has spent much of lockdown playing virtual shows from his living room, raising over £250,000 to support endangered grassroots venues up and down the UK, many of which might not have otherwise survived the pandemic.
So, it’s fitting that Frank’s new single ‘The Gathering’ is an upbeat, Glam-esque stomp. It puts a positive spin on things, anticipating a return to normality. “It’s about that moment when you come together in a room full of people, and you lean on a stranger and sing along with the chorus and get the words wrong,” explained Frank.
Produced by Rich Costey (Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters), who Frank worked with on 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, ‘The Gathering’ features pile driving drums courtesy of Muse’s Dom Howard and a triumphant guitar solo from Jason Isbell, who recorded remotely from Los Angeles and Nashville. The new track follows a number of huge life changes for the star, who left his beloved London for the Essex coast, also getting married after the release of 2019’s No Man’s Land. “The biggest thing for me about the lockdown experience was about identity,” he says. “I am the guy who tours, this is who I’ve been since I was sixteen. This is the longest period of time I’ve slept in the same bed continuously since I was seven.”
Set to change this summer, when, in celebration of the ethos behind ‘The Gathering’ Frank and label Xtra Mile Recordings will present a run of outdoor shows, helping to kick start the return of live music. It’s been a catastrophic year for the Industry as a whole, with the Covid pandemic dealing blow after blow for everyone in the sector. In true punk rock style, Xtra Mile and Turner want to take matters into their own hands with a set of versatile events that can either be socially distanced or full capacity depending on the maximum safety of the audience, performers and crews and in accordance with any national restrictions in place at the time of the event. Frank says; “At a time when the pandemic has wreaked havoc all across the live music industry, I feel like it’s important to get back to the basics – playing live music to entertain a crowd. This summer, with Xtra Mile and friends, I’m taking the punk approach – do it yourself, find a way. I can’t wait.”
2021 UK ‘Gathering’ Live Shows include Bideford in June, and Frome’s Cheese & Grain on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June. The tour continues through July with dates in Liverpool and Gloucester, August at Manchester and Hull will need to wait until September.
The Guv’ of Sheer, Kieran Moore is keen to point out the Sunday is his birthday, so if you are going, take him a cake. I dunno, good question; add about 50ish candles I reckon!
There’s something indefinitely old school punk about Salem, with nods to pop-punk, goth and rockabilly, hoisting them to the absolute top of their scene. No one in the UK are delivering this genre better right now.
This side project of Will Gould from Creepers and Matt Reynolds of Howards Alias is loud, proud and spitting; dripping with Siouxsie and the Banshees, laddered fishnet stockings and Robert Smith influences. Quite honestly, Kieran’s right, again; it’s knocking deafeningly at my front door!
They described their self-titled debut 2020 EP as “spooky, silly, romantic punk rock songs.” Yeah, figures.
Today they announce their October UK tour, with Oxford’s Bullingdon, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Bristol’s Exchange included, and nestled between them, on October 16th, Sheer Music & Bandit present them at Swindon’s grandstand music venue, The Victoria.
Support for the Salem’s tour comes from a new solo project from Welsh former Holding Absence bassist, James Joseph; James and the Cold Gun. A playful twist on his name, James and the Cold Gun is named after a Kath Bush song. They promise to be something of a rock n’ roll blues revue, akin to former British rock n’ roll heroes The Computers. They signed to Gallows label Venn Records for the release of their debut album.
Presented a punter-based cautionary piece on the hopeful move forward for live music this year, and how chancy it all is at this stage. If the playground remains uneven, I never intended the article to be pessimistic, though it may’ve been perceived that way. I just advised applying caution may be necessary prior to a compulsory detonation of over-excitement.
The other side of the coin of this vicious circle is that, without ticket sales there will be no show. While many organisers have cancelled their regular events, some keep their fingers and toes crossed, others are trying to work through it, and are dowsing a silver lining to this cloud with a summer of festivals planned.
Let’s hope and pray it pays off. Festival websites report that it is, and tickets are selling fast, which agreed, could be a sales pitch. So, you’re left to risk the call, and snap up tickets, especially for the most popular ones. I have faith most festivals will refund you if it either goes Pete Tong, or Pete Tong is booked to DJ, or else ask to retain your ticket for another year, because they organise festivals, and festivals are all about openness and sharing. Booking agents on the other hand, might be another story.
Personally, I’ve done gone got the festival t-shirt many moons ago, and the jester’s hat too, come to think about it; I can bide my time from power-napping in a spinning canvas pyramid, paying over the odds for a baggie of basil, and sliding headlong into a ditch of piss. For many though, particularly younger generations, festivals are essential, and vital, for their wonderful feeling of togetherness. For the music industry it’s crucial to maintain this notion; ignore my aged rant, there is no ditch of piss, not really, not in this clean-cut era!
Let’s run through the locally based choicest ones, which sound too good to miss… but remember to check the individual planned conditions of entry, some will ask you to provide evidence of licensed vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 48 hour period.
11th – 13th: Kite Festival
Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire
Born from a Kickstarter campaign in January 2020, but cancelled for the obvious reasons, it’s this festival’s maiden voyage this year. KITE aims to combine incredible music and breakthrough ideas in a unique programme of live performances and interactive discussions. “We wanted to bring together contemporary and legendary performers, thinkers, writers and public figures from the world of music, politics, business, technology and the arts and give you the opportunity to engage with the people who are influencing the way we live.”
Cultural icon Grace Jones, multi-Grammy-Award winning jazz singer Gregory Porter and gospel legend Mavis Staples were set to lead the music programme for the original date last year, we wait in anticipation to hear the line-up now, as Kite announce they’re working on their 2021 programme. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.
18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival
Ragely Hall, Warwickshire
Another first outing cancelled last year sees its debut this June. Just the map is enticing enough, with a boating lake and woodland and all that stuff. Local breweries and bands, who share the stages with a great line up, including Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ) Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Pile-Up. There’s also an intersting wellbeing programme with hip hop yoga, boxercise, Let’s Talk About Sex Meditation & Mindfulness, and biscuits & burpees; I’ll just have the biscuits, thank you! Find Bigfoot here.
2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival
Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury
Fourth outing for this popular do. A community non-profit triple day extravaganza, run entirely by volunteers which raised funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and local schools and charities last year. Guaranteed excellent music, a great, wide range of food and a well-stocked house Bar, Gin & Prosecco Bar and Cocktail Tiki Bar! There will also be a range of FREE activities in the Kidzone, including rock climbing wall, rock climbing digi-wall, an inflatable slide and assault course, bouncy castles, circus skills workshops and kids craft workshops, plus many more activities.
Line-up includes, Dr & The Medics, Space, Jesus Jones, Dreadzone, Crikey Minogue & Six Packs, a Ministry of Samba workshop, and a great local roster of Devizine favourites The Tribe, Talk In Code, The Dirty Smooth, A’La-Ska, Navajo Dogs, Sloe Train and Plucking Different. This is going to be a brilliant one, make sure there’s room in your backpack to sneak me in! Info Here.
8th-10th: 2000trees Festival
A largely rock and indie festival, 2000trees has a good reputation and won awards. This year sees Jimmy Eat World headline, with Thrice, Creeper, The Amazons, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Menzingers, The Get Up Kids and many more to make me feel old! Tickets & info Here.
9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival
Great Tew, Oxfordshire
Still in the planning stages, this ever-growing festival in the most beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswold location think it’s enough just to announce on headline act, yeah, but it is Bryan Adams; show offs! Should be good though. Info here.
22nd-25th Womad (?)
Charlton Park, Malmesbury
Still hopeful, Womad are holding off announcing acts, but you know, I know, we all know it’ll be the crème de la crème of world music on our doorstep, if all goes well, they’ve secured the date and tickets are here.
31st Mfor 2021
Lydiard Park, Swindon
A family orientated, affordable, one day pop-tastic festival I’ve only heard good things about, could be just the thing to introduce kids to festivals. And with Craig David, Rudimental, Ella Henderson, Phats & Small, Mark Hill (Original Artful Dodger), Lindy Layton on the line-up, it’s easy to see how this party is going to go down. I believe local acts will also be on agenda, certain our friends Talk in Code feature. There’s even an over 18 Friday night special additional event, with Five, S Club, Liberty X, Baby and Rozalla; everybody is freeeee, to feeeel gooood, apparently. Info & Tickets.
5th-8th: Wickham Festival
New one on me this, but The Wickham Festival is an annual four-dayer of music and arts. Boasting three stages, and rated as one of the safest, most relaxed and family-friendly festivals in the UK, Wickham was voted ‘Best UK Festival, cap. under 15000’ at the Live UK Music Business Awards in October 2015; so, they know their stuff; I mean, they’ve got Van the man, and The Waterboys. Note also, Devizine favs, Beans on Toast, Gaz Brookfield, Tankus the Henge along with Nick Parker on the agenda; sweet! Tickets & Info Here.
6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.
7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend
And what a finale it is, Saturday; McFly, Scouting For Girls, Orla Gartland, Lauren Hibberd, George Pelham, Josh Gray, Novacub, Dessie Magee and Luna Lake. Sunday; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, Billy Ocean, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Seth Lakeman, Bloco B, Hannah Grace, Casey Lowry, Port Erin Life, and Life In Mono, with more to be announced… Tickets HERE.
Any closer than this and it’ll be in your back garden! But that’s not the sole reason to grab a ticket for MantonFest! Just thirty notes for adults, a tenner for teenagers, and a fiver for kids, but that’s not the only other reason. Reports on this family, broad ranging charity fundraising annual do has never been negative, and we’re glad to hear it’s back for 2021. Number one Blondie tribute Dirty Harry headline, along with Dr. Feelgood, Ex-Men (five members of original 60’s bands), Barrelhouse, Jo Martin with his band, Devizine favs Richard Davies and The Dissidents, Josie and the Outlaw and homegrown Skeddadle. We previewed it last year before shit hit the fan; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021. Mantonfest say, “we may have to introduce some anti-covid restrictions. These will be announced nearer the time and will be in line with the latest developments and best practice;” let’s hope this goes off this time. Tickets & Info here.
21st: Live at Lydiard
Lydiard Park, Swindon
Anne‐Marie, Sean Kingston, Roman Kemp [DJ set] Artful Dodger, Chaney, Fabian Darcy on the line-up over four stages for this day festival at Lydiard, with a dance tent, boutique cocktail bar and food court. Info & Tickets here.
21st: Bath Reggae Festival
Now pushed back to August bank holiday, this is the maiden voyage for the Bath Reggae Festival, and we bless them with the best of luck. With a line-up this supreme though, I’d imagine it’ll sell itself. Legends Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, and The Slits solo extraordinaire Hollie Cook, Laid Back and lovers rocker Wayne Wonder, this is a must for reggae fans. Tickets & info here.
4th-5th: Concert at the Kings
All Cannings, Devizes
For locals little more can be said about how awesome this ground-breaking festival raising staggering funds for cancer research is. Since 2012 it has bought international headline acts to the sleepy village outside Devizes; legendary fables and the fondest memories have been had there. No difference this time around, save for some social distancing. Billy Ocean, 10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Strawbs, Lindisfarne and Devizine favs Talk in Code, with more to be announced; twist your arm anymore, sir? No; no need to! Tickets & Info here.
9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle
Venues across Swindon
A later date for this annual extravaganza of local live music, spread across Swindon’s premiere venues and hugely supportive of original homegrown talent, this is weekend to head for the railway town. Since 2007 the Shuffle raises funds for MIND, and is largely free to attend. Ah, there’s plenty time to arrange a line-up, which is underway, but you can guarantee a truckload of our local favourites will be there, somewhere! Info.
10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival
Stockton Park, Near Warminster
The mature place to glamp this summer if you want to get retro; classic cars is the concentrate, but there’s no shortage of great bands from rockabilly, doo-wop, blues to mod skiffle, boogie woogie jazz and beyond. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, “Great Scott,” Shana Mai and the Mayhems, The Bandits, Junco Shakers,The Flaming Feathers, The Harlem Rhythm Cats, Little Dave & The Sunshine Sessions, The Rough Cut Rebels, Riley K, The Ukey D’ukes and loads more. Info & Tickets Here.
You know, this one could be for me, rather than trying to look youthful clutching onto a marquee pole for dear life while a hoard of sugared-up teeny-boppers check Instagram amidst a soundtrack of dubstep! But look, I reckon there’s something for everyone here, but if I did miss yours, let me know, for a squashy cup of cider at the festie bar, I must just add your do here too!
It’s important, I think, not to get over-excited, but I understand and expect a major outbreak of momentary bipolar disorder from myself and many others when we look somewhere over the rainbow at the prospect of events restarting, and live music in particular.
How the next few months pan out will be crucial to this concept of returning to normality, and we all play the part of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2; Judgement Day, when she said, “the unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope.” Hereafter the bit about a Terminator learning the value of human life is inconsequential to our particular occasion, but maybe has some relevance. We have to hold it down, guys, we have to be like little Fonzies here, and as Samuel L Jackson will ask you, Yolanda, what’s Fonzie like?
If we charge this thing it could backfire. It was heart-breaking and annoying too, running through our event calendar deleting everything, and despite the concern I’m going to be a busy bee updating it when events actually start happening, I’m like George Gershwin, biding his time. This said, you should note month-to-month the event calendar is far from void, there’s lots of live streams, online events and popup kitchens to check out; do not abandon it. But, and this a big but, bigger than the butt of Rod Stewart and Jennifer Lopez’s lovechild, we should keep in mind the word of the day is possibilities, and nothing should be set in concrete yet.
Still the local rag seems more gung-ho than me, which is odd until you figure they’ve staff to pay, advertisers to appease and content must be attractive. As I write this, they announce the headline “Fulltone Festival will be back in town this summer!” as I’m sure you’ll all be happy to hear this news, planning to go ahead on the 28th and 29th August, as am I, but I worry for the word “will” in this piece of clickbait, because right now can we really say will?
Look, my ol’ mucker, I don’t want to pop your bubble of optimism, I’m just playing the realist. Tomorrow sees schools and higher education heading back out; how strict testing will be, given pupils will test themselves in some circumstances, the same pupils who created the user-name “reconnecting,” so teachers would think they’re having connection issues with their online class! The R-rating hinges on this moment and its success, ergo the rest of this so-called roadmap does.
The second part of this giant step, on the 29th March includes the use of outdoor swimming pools, for example, but pubs won’t reopen until step 2 on April 12th. How are fifty-plus bods dribbling into a swimming pool safer than a socially distanced pint in your local? There’s inconsistences and flaws, to be expected, the further the pitch extends, but the wording is all made up of “we hope,” and “the government will look to continue easing limits,” there is no “Will,” therefore no media outlet should be using the word, unless mass hysteria is what they want.
The COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Summary) on Gov.UK is quite clear, “in implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change.” Yet bands are getting bookings, events are being arranged, money is being pumped into thin ice. The Victoria in Swindon is planning a comeback with Ion Maiden, Iron Maiden tribute on 14th May, but The Tuppenny aren’t announcing yet. Bradford-on-Avon’s Three Horseshoes haven’t added anything on Facebook until 7th August, when the brilliant Strange Folk are booked, whereas same band are the only thing to be listed at Devizes Southgate on 9th October.
But can you rely on the Fakebook as a source? Southgate landlady Deborah has been “quietly booking up bands,” with seventeen in the pipeline to date, starting from 22nd May. “This year,” she explained, “we’re concentrating almost entirely on just one gig per week. The earliest gigs will be outside with early evening start and finish times, but we hope to get back to our pre-COVID timings as soon as possible.”
The Long Street Blues Club state “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” aiming to restart their program on Saturday 18th September with the popular Billy Walton Band. This is brilliant news, but here, I believe is where the boundary lies, the smaller pub and club gigs. The idea of large-scale concerts and festivals, and upholding conditions are simply incalculable, for some.
Devizes Scooter Club have sadly cancelled their brilliant rally, as organiser Adam Ford said after making the decision in February, “even if it were allowed to proceed, we feel it will not be possible to host any event to the standard we would want to, and that attendees deserve.” There’s a similar feeling at Devizes CAMRA who have cancelled the Beer Festival. This is, sad but true, the exact logical response we should respect from those in the responsibility of organising events, well done to them both.
One should follow the lead of the Eavis family, experts in, quite literally, their field. If Glasto says no, then you, as an organiser should perhaps take heed. Meanwhile, Lydiard Park in Swindon is set for MFor 2021 is set as early as 31st July, and tickets are 50% sold. They remain adamant they’ve not the massive structure and organisation as Glasto, and will proceed with social distancing measures in operation. What I am questioning with these events still on the agenda, will we need proof of vaccination, as we’re a long way from vaccinating the country? Unless you imagine an evening with only over-70s going to watch Craig David, it’s a melon twister.
Talking with Kieran J Moore of Sheer Music, he stated, “the proof question hasn’t been answered by the Music Venue Trust yet, so there is no guidance or anything for the venues to base their decisions on. We can’t do gigs until May either, so still plenty of time for the working outs to begin.” Sheer has something in pipeline in Frome at the end of June, but isn’t really resurfacing until the highly anticipated Jon Gomm gig with support from The Lost Trades at Trowbridge’s Emmanuel’s Yard on the 15th October.
Satisfied that their safety measures conformed to the government regulations last Summer, the Southgate will do the same this time around. “Government guidelines have not yet been published,” Deborah said. “Unless we are required to do so, we have no intention whatsoever of demanding proof of vaccination.”
Loz of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, who give us the unforgettable carnival, street festival and winter ales events, among others is looking forward to coming back “to help us make amazing things happen in the future.” She said, “I’ve spent every spare minute searching for and writing funding applications to ensure DOCA can relaunch at the end of this crazy blip in our history. I’m currently working on an Arts Council Cultural Recovery Bid; it’s a lot of work and I am supported by our fantastic Trustees whenever I have a question I stall on.”
But still, carnival in Devizes hangs in the ropes. But this is how it has to be, unfortunately. Believe me, I am adamant my next gig will not be when a kindly lady wheels her Bontempi organ into my care home to recite Bridge over Troubled Water, all I’m urging people to do is keep things in perspective and not raise their hopes, or more-so, let their guard down, just yet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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: email@example.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.
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.
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.
Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Sharron Shannon Band & Seckou Keita at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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.