Nothing Complicated at the Southgate

Two birds, one Sunday afternoon stone. Motivate myself out of hibernation, pre-dinner time, to step over the threshold of The Southgate Inn, something long overdue. Also, the perfect opportunity to catch It’s Complicated, who, after a fundraiser in Easterton Saturday night came to the longboat of love to show us how they do it. And now, after mentioning and mentioning this Devizes based band, I finally confirm, they do it very well indeed.

Self-described as “not your standard covers band,” (otherwise they would’ve named themselves “It’s Easy,”) is nothing but exact, as vocalist and keyboardist Jacqueline Sherlock rings out an inimitable cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean while I’m propping up the bar. I take a sip, this is what they promise, it’s what they delivered, with baubles on.

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It’s Complicated with Dereck Head on sax

This place is not Devizes’ answer to an O2 arena, functionally it’s awkward, spacious it’s not, but working with what they’ve got, The Southgate is immediately hospitable, snug and convivial; I’d have expected nothing less. Reason why musicians and bands are queuing up to July to cram themselves in here falls upon Deborah and Dave’s nonchalant and welcoming attitude. If they’ve created a monster with The Southgate, it’s a knobbly-knees and turned-out toes type monster akin to The Gruffalo, rather than anything Dr Frankenstein may’ve stuck electrodes on.

It’s Sunday afternoon and it’s bustling, what they’ve spared not following the grain and converting the Southgate into the standard ostentatious vulgarity of contemporary neon public houses they’ve savoured on atmosphere and a non-stop musical line-up which celebrates everything positive about the local live music scene I’m so often bashing on about. Where other pubs sporadically host live music, you can guarantee Saturday night at the Southgate, Fridays and Sundays following a close second place. Darn it, if even Wednesday night isn’t a family-like acoustic jam down here.

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Tamsin joins in, with seasonal hats

So, this Sunday it’s the turn of It’s Complicated, a band formed a couple of years ago, detached from function band, Friday Feeling. Like a cat at the front door of your new home upon your arrival, they’ve been rehearsing in the Southgate’s skittle alley prior to the new landlords, where they’ve created a unique approach to an assemblage of fantastic cover songs. With flexibly of styles, and wealth of experience, the experimentation has paid off.

 
Jacqueline sublimely singing Etta James, the band taking a reggae twist to the stark modern Gotye anthem, “Someone that I used to Know,” ongoing ambient rock instrumentals akin to Dire Straits, accompanying Dereck Head through jazzy saxophone splendour, and returning after a break to acutely perform a country tune, I think proves this diversity tenfold.

 

But as well as stamping their mark on the covers, drummer and vocalist Tim Watts, vocalist and keyboardist Jacqueline Sherlock, guitarist Tom Evans and bass player Stephen Barron work on their own original material. Acknowledging the homegrown nature of the gig, they played Imber, the tribute to Imber Blacksmith Albie Nash, who doctors diagnosed “a broken heart,” when he passed away, chained to his anvil after the army forced the residents to leave the village.

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Vince Bell with It’s Complicated

And locally rousing this gig was. In the spirit of the scene, the return from a break guested pre-familiarised Vince Bell, who acoustically sang his chef-d’oeuvre, Ship of Fools, and followed it by a humorous attack on the allure of Devizes, with Tim on Cajon. A few more songs from It’s Complicated and another guest, our heroine Tamsin Quin, joined them for a few of her own tunes from Gypsy Blood, an album of which its launch party called in the help of It’s Complicated to replicate the session band from the studio. Not forgetting her sing-along Jungle Book favourite and seasonal Santa Baby.

Being traditionally bands are often of a similar age, a quick chat with Tim I felt it necessary to inquire if guitarist Tom, was any of the band’s progenies, being an age difference between him and the others. “No,” Tim confirmed there was no family connections, “That’s why we’re complicated.” Had to shrug this off, as it never matters, passion for music doesn’t barrier by age, all that counts are the harmonies and there’s nothing complicated there, it worked, and worked fantastic; what an enjoyable afternoon!

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Birthday Bash, Birthday Bash….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets Online Here

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Shuffling in Swindon

Swindon Shuffle has been mouthed around my earshot recently, whazat? Some kind of euphemism? Nope it’s Swindon’s longest running contemporary music festival; been ‘appening since 2006. It now consists of four days of original live music spread over Swindon’s finest music venues, much of it locally sourced, and it’s free entry to the whole shebang!

 

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Swindon being cultureless is an old wife’s tale as ancient as carrots helping you see the dark, I learned this when drawing my little goldfish cartoon for the free rave/rock zine De-Railer in 1992, and nights at Queen’s Tap when the Skanxters shook the rafters. Swindon always has had a healthy music scene, don’t let anyone tell you any different, and even if they do, here’s a chance to prove that it’s staying more alive than John Travolta in a hot tub time machine.

 

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So, for a cheap article, I’ve cut and pasted the line-up, check it out and dribble! But also take note, sponsor the West Berkshire Brewery will be brewing an ale especially for the event called 5 Knuckle, which will be available in venues. Our friends at the Ocelot have been long-time supporters and a partner of the Shuffle, alongside Swindon Viewpoint, Britain’s original public-access television service, and venues The Beehive, Vic, Tuppenny and Castle. The Shuffle will also be raising money for the Swindon branch of Mind, a mental health problems charity.

 

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Yeah, so blow me down and call me David Murray John, it looks a little bit like this:

Wednesday 11 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
19:30 Swindon Shuffle Music Quiz

Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Castle Stage
22:15 Slagerij
21:30 Street Outlaws
20:45 Post 12
20:00 Flour Babies
Thursday 12 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
21:45 Canute’s Plastic Army
21:00 Tamsin Quin
20:15 Atari Pilot (acoustic)
Thursday 12 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) Live Hip Hop Jam Session

Friday 13 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 The Harlers
22:00 GETRZ
21:10 Monkfish
20:20 The Oxymora
19:30 Falls On Deaf Ears
Friday 13 July 2018 – The Castle
22:15 SN Dubstation
21:30 Wilding
20:45 Basement Club
20:00 The Compact Pussycat
19:15 Matthew Bryant
Friday 13 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Victoria Stage
22:50 Wasuremono
22:00 Fabian Darcy
21:10 SHORE
20:20 Palm Rose
19:30 Moleville
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
22:15 SexJazz
21:30 Aural Candy
20:45 Grasslands
20:00 The Illustrations
Saturday 14 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
18:30 Josh Wolfsohn
17:45 Sarah C Ryan
17:00 Steve Cox
16:15 The King In Mirrors
15:30 Sumita
14:30 Raze*Rebuild (acoustic)
Saturday 14 July 2018 – Baila Stage
(time tbc) After Party DJs

Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Beehive Stage
20:15 True Strays
19:30 Hip Route
18:45 Sunset Service
18:00 Cobalt Fire
17:15 Richard Wileman
16:30 Strange Tales
Sunday 15 July 2018 – The Tuppenny Stage (acoustic)
15:30 Emily-Jane Sheppard
14:45 Jack Moore
14:00 Special Guests
13:15 The Shudders (acoustic)

Swindon Shuffle Website

Facebook Page

 

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