Graham Steel Music Awards Online Tomorrow

Join the GSMC on Friday 22nd January at 8pm for a celebration of grassroots music as they present this year’s GSMC Music Awards Live Online on YouTube, where they will announce the Winners of all 12 categories and will include live and pre recorded music from some of the nominees as well as a look back at the year and celebrate all those people that helped keep the grassroots music scene alive in 2020.

GSMC Music Awards Night will be streamed live from YouTube on Friday 22nd January at 8pm, the link for this is below:


Chris TT Live at Trowbridge Town Hall 2017

Catching up with more stuff on a quiet(ish) Sunday, this got pushed towards the bottom, I’ve no valid excuses. Taking you back to April 2017, Brighton’s misfit leftist comic poet-acoustic performer performed at Trowbridge’s Town Hall for Sheer Music. It would be a gig on his last ever tour. After twenty years Chris announced he was giving up his music career, and finalised it with an autumn farewell concert in London.

The recording was released on Chris’ Bandcamp page at the beginning of the month. It’s a pay-what-you-like and he waivers all fees to the Music Venue Trust.

Since 2014 the registered charity MVT, was setup to protect the UK live music network by focussing its support on grassroots venues, but since lockdown it’s understandably become essential. Grassroots venues play a crucial role, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. We need them back; we need them open. Hearing this album helps you to understand why, makes you remember what you’re missing.

It’s easy to hear the influence of upcoming artists like Gecko, as Chris weaves unrelated subjects like an observational stand-up comedian, and also, with the same comical timing. His guitar picking is quality and together it makes for a highly entertaining show. Stabs at the establishment come thick and fast, songs randomly seriatim through motorways, anti-hunt rants, gorilla gardening, his own self-worth and musical talent, even a jab at Trowbridge’s political demographic in Love me, I’m Liberal. There’s a beautifully played out winter portrayal, Tunguska, and more intelligently drafted thoughts to boot.

This is folk upfront, with woven narrative and amusing rudiments, chronicles the now, and highlights the passion of the simplest gig, man with thoughts and guitar.    

On the night he was supported by Phil Cooper, and Kyle D Evans, the show recorded by Bromham’s Owl’s soundman Gareth Nicholas. Makes me wish I was bobbing about on the scene at the time, but Devizine was a year behind in the making. Still, albums got a picture of Trowbridge on it, any monies you can give helps a charity, but most of all, this is just the enjoyable and proficient performance we’ve come to expect from Sheer.


You Do You, George

A message goes ping from that George Wilding, he’s got a new single out since when we reviewed his band Wilding’s last outing. Are they building up to an EP? I asked, and got the reply, this is a solo one. Then, nought, despite saying if you send it, I’ll bless it with some words. That’s our George, never too hot on a press release, and if I criticise myself for being a technophobe, I’m Zuckerberg by comparison! So, I gotta go find it on these blasted streaming sites, but you know, and he does too, I’m going to, even if Dave Franklyn got in before me with a super review. Blinking Loreal; he’s worth it!

I take the chance not to read anything Dave has written prior to scribing something myself, if it’s on the same subject. Such an expert with words, my penmanship pales in contrast. Still, I got to say a little something, George being such a popular charismatic and approachable guy, aside his natural flare and virtuosity, musically.      

Encouragement and reassurance for a falling star, practically rather than spiritually, seems to be the subject for You Do You, a delicate resonance in such a fashion only George could execute. Perhaps the most melancholic yet, opposed to the bouncy country acoustic of some of his earlier classic bombasts, it contains no skilfully-placed vulgarity, it’s mellowed, inspired and stunning. It’s crying out for an emotional upsurge, yet whispered with sincerity, the key to a great song, and George nails it, unsurprisingly.

The kind if performed live it would suspend the whole venue in awe, as if time suddenly stopped and nothing mattered other than counselling this lone girl. Everything moral spells this character needs help, yet by natural testosterone, perhaps her beauty distracts; a perpetual cycle of bad karma. Like any truly-written masterpiece, there’s obviously a private connection with the author, yet the listener identifies by conjuring a similarity to a particular own experience, in this case be it a girl, your mind locates the ideal suspect. Yeah, I know that chick, you contemplate, least one too close for comfort!

Every need then, to check it out for yourself. George Wilding’s You Do You is out now, across all streaming platforms.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3PQr8HIQjtQBv6f9WsC7hb


Dirty and Smooth Seed to the Spark

That moment after a message from a local band, when you click on their Facebook page to find eleven friends already “like” them, and not one of them told you! Yeah, I’m talking, but I ain’t saying anything new; does everyone know Malmsbury’s The Dirty Smooth, except me?!

If not, you should. Since their debut single five years ago, The Dirty Smooth are no strangers to the festival circuit, gaining a reputation for playing original, anthemic pop songs. On top of numerous live appearances, they helped organise the Minety Music Festival in 2017. Shortlisted at the UK Festival Awards it has become a well-established festival, hosting acts like Toploader, Republica and Chesney Hawkes. Over the past two years, but setback by lockdown, they’ve been working towards a forthcoming album, Running From The Radar, due to be released in February. They’ve a very worthy teaser from it, a single you should check out, Seed To The Spark; it’s certainly convinced me.

With a sonic booming bass intro, it’s as it suggests on the tin; dirty. Yet it’s got that perfect pop blend in melody, which draws in many influences. Central vocal hooks of eighties rock, punky attitude, but beguiling backing female vocals and funky rhythmic grooves of soul-related pop, ah, the smooth part. I’m left thinking if Simple Minds met Deacon Blue, or Roxette. Though I’m contemplating they met today, for nothing is left completely to retrospection with The Dirty Smooth, there’s vibrant freshness to the sound too. Thing is, it’s aching with confidence and undoubtedly brewing with potential. The ingredients are all there and being unified by some musical Michelin star chefs, who clearly love their cuisine.

Few local bands aim for the stadium sound, knowing a pub circuit is more workable. Here, as with Swindon’s Talk in Code, is something which needs some big stage festival airing, it has that range, it has that wide appeal. As with the apt band name, Dirty and Smooth righty word their single, you get the sensation this is far from their opus-magnum, for if it is just a seed to a spark you’ll want to be there when that bomb drops.


Chris Tweedie’s Reflections

With over three decades experience writing music and composing songs, Melksham-based Chris Tweedie acknowledges on his website he can sing, but disparages his ability to limitations, inquiring of other singers for possible collaborations. While timorousness is common when self-assessing the worth of your own output, especially for musicians, there’s an argument that no one can express your own words better than you. While the many who’ve taken on songs of Dylan, who let’s face it, isn’t the most accomplished vocalist, may well have manufactured a better sound, but lack the sincerity and emotion of the written word coming from its author.      

First impressions last, I’m only a few songs into Reflections, his debut album released yesterday, (6th Nov) and I’m drifting into its gorgeous portrayals, meditative and knowing his notion is modesty. The vocals are apt for this wandering, sublimely ambient twelve uniformed tunes. And anyway, Tracy Whatley’s beautifully grafted vocals with a country twinge feature on the one tune, Virtuous Circle, and the title tune is an instrumental finale to make Mike Oldfield blush. The rest are self-penned and executed with vocals, mellowly with acoustic goodness, reminding me of the posthumous Nick Drake.

With poetic thoughtful prose, these are exceptionally well-written songs, performed with passion and produced under the ever-proficient Martin Spencer at the Badger Set Studio. His website and the CD inlay has text of said lyrics, to pick one entirely at random; “You are the thousand winds that blow, You are the diamond glints on snow, You are sunlight on ripened grain, You are the gentle autumn rain,” taken from You are the Stars, are not the exception, they’re all this serenely stunning.

It’s Sunday sunrise music, sitting by a stretch of water, and we all need this once in a while. The album cover of such a scene sums it up in one image.

The relaxed attitude hardly drifts to anything of a negative narrative, perhaps with the exception of Slow Down, which suggests one’s life is moving too fast. The majority on offer is uplifting, perhaps reaching the apex at the seventh song, aforementioned You are the Stars, which is enriching, period.

“There are various musical influences that come through in my music,” Chris says, citing rock, pop, country and folk. “The direction this mix has taken my songs is still fairly mainstream with a leaning towards the West Coast path and an element of Americana in places.” I certainly agree, there’s hints of the Byrds, of Crosby, Stills and Nash, but majorly its definingly English, think George Harrison, not to hype but to compare the style of. There’s experimentation at work here, but the experience shines through, Chris Tweedie could chill out Donald Duck!

Buy Chris Tweedie’s Reflections here


Bionic Rats, Alive in Dublin

A superb new live album from Dublin’s finest ska-reggae outfit, The Bionic Rats….

There’s some wonky logic in the character Jimmy Rabbitte’s bemusing outburst in The Commitments film, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So, say it once and say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!” Persecuted before the slave trade, there are some intelligible contrasts between the oppressed races.

Still, the thought of Dublin conjures rock legends to outsiders of every decade, be it from Thin Lizzy to Skid Row and U2 to The Script. Diverse as any city though, if you thought the idea of music of black origin was the stuff of films, think again.

Far from a retrospective regression going through the motions of a bygone Two-Tone era, The Bionic Rats are an exciting, energetic reggae and ska six-piece from Dublin with a building collection of original and stimulating material. Even their band name, I suspect, is taken from a Black Ark tune, Lee Scratch Perry’s renowned studio. Yesterday they released a dynamic album doing their thing where they do it best, on stage, in their home city.

In a conclusively roots reggae inspired track, Red Gold and Green, frontman, Del Bionic lays down a chorus not so far fled from the Commitments quote, “reggae is talking about the things I bear witness to, on and off the Liffey quays. I’m not Jamaican, Dublin born and bred, I don’t wanna be a natty dread,” Though a bulk of the material here is upbeat ska, if it relates to a modern ska era, it borrows extensively from Two-Tone, particularly for it’s no bullshit attitude and social commentary. A component definingly reggae, or correlated to any plight of poverty and societal righteousness in general. It rings out the enduring message, reggae is universal.

Reggae often takes on board regional folk roots, be it influenced by, or using traditional instruments of that area, the recent surge in Balkan ska for example. Yet, the only local element the Bionic Rats take is said Irish bitter repartee and attitude within their subject matter.

Their sound is beguiling and directed towards the very origins of Jamaican pop music, and skanks to any highest region! The very reason why they’re a force to be reckoned with, internationally, having shared the stage with their mentors, Madness, Bad Manners, Horace Andy, Israel Vibration, Johnny Clarke and their aforementioned namesake, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, also opening for Damien Dempsey and Imelda May. A hit with the crowds at the One Love Festival in Sussex, London International Ska Festival, they’ve made the frontpage of eminent Do The Dog Skazine, Doc Marten’s used their song Dear John for an online campaign and they continue to skank the crowd at Dublin’s longest running reggae night ‘The Sunday Skank’ in the Temple Bar.

Ironically the 2009 debut album was titled Return of The Bionic Rats, and since three more albums have followed. The good news is, wonderful as their studio albums are, we can all now pretend we’re in the crowd of a Sunday Skank with this beauty of a recorded live show, and boy, do they give it some.

The premise is simple, as it is with ska. Lyrics often minor compared to offbeats and horns. Subject matter slight; between girls, lust, dancing, record buying and being rude, the Rats offer sentiments on prejudges, tyranny and oppression, but seldom will romance be on the cards. You may not be enchanted by The Bionic Rats, who describe this release as “perfectly capturing The Bionic Rats in all their sloppy greatness,” but your waistline will get a darn good workout.

While we’re tempted by the simplicity of the upbeat ska sound in danceable tracks like Annie Oakes, the sweary Bad Garda and the particularly well grafted tale of obsessive record buying, Hooked on 45s, there’s roots, like aforementioned Red, Gold & Green, and rock steady numbers such as prejudice themed Dear John. There’s no end of expected banter and comical themes, such as the English Beat sounding Girl with Big Hands. Then there’s that contemporary third-gen fashioned ska-reggae but wrapped in a no-bars-held cussing, of which titles speak for themselves; Twisted Little Bitter Little Fuckers, for example.

Such is the expected acrimonious nature of an Irish ska band; lap it up, it’s refined rudeness. Done too, with experience, The Bionic Rats rose from the ashes of Dublin-based reggae band, King Sativa, who were active on the scene from 1998 until their breakup in 2005. Their guitarist Graham Birney, and drummer Anthony Kenny moved over to the Bionic Rats. Like them, or not, I’m convinced they probably don’t give a toss, but going on this superb live album, you certainly can’t ignore them.

Alive in Dublin, out now, here.

Singer, Del Bionic also does a live streaming set every Sunday from Facebook at 9pm (GMT) well worth tuning in to: https://www.facebook.com/thebionicratspage/live/


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Join me every Friday night from 10pm to midnight GMT for a fun two hours of ska, reggae and anything goes!

Atmospheric Country Goodness Fits Kirsty’s Shoes.

Subscribe on YouTube to local independent country, singer-songwriter Kirsty Clinch and you’ll receive a selection of wonderful pop-driven covers with a country feel, lots of chat videos where she explains her thought processes and announces news, provides advise and even beauty tips. Catch Kirsty live and she’s unplugged, expressing the same dedication to her music but as an acoustic performer. Either way, she is a pleasure to hear, a smooth silky voice and accomplished guitarist.

It is also the very reason I’ve been in anticipation of this debut single, to hear which way Kirsty will take it, lean more on her matured live acoustic sets, perhaps, or the pop-inspired subtlety of her videos. I’m pleased to say, Fit the Shoe balances both equally. Though far from bubble-gum, it uses a sublime bassline behind her country guitar-picking to create a wonderful and emotive sound. This is contemporary country, combining pop’s ambient-influence of William Orbit and blending it with the vocal range and narrative of classic Dolly Parton, enough to make Madonna blush.

Yet there’s another side to Kirsty, a fervently astute entrepreneur with clear direction on how to market a vocation through projecting the perfect appeal and disposition. Yet none of these reasons, I suspect are the sole reason why Fit the Shoe, is shooting up the streaming sites after being released only today, rather an amalgamation of them all, but mostly, because it’s gorgeous and immediately lovable.

Our fiery redhead instinctively knows where the goal is, shoots and next thing you know the net is pulsating with the shock. “My main goal is to touch the hearts of many though my art and spread awareness that a positive attitude leads to better paths,” she explains. “I already achieved my first goal by travelling and performing in Nashville at venues such as the BlueBird.” Nashville is something Kirsty regularly brings into conversation, who wouldn’t. But it’s here, in collaboration with Peter Lamb, providing bass and mastering, in the atmospheric splendour of this single that we see a true star shining.  

“As an independent artist,” Kirsty Clinch speaks her motivation, “you must have 100% faith in yourself and your worth, you must work hard to gain all your goals and dreams you desire and I have a lot of energy to still give to the world, so I’m going hard or I’m going home.”

Stick this on your playlist and freeze in awe.

Devizine Presents #1; Presented

All Photos used with the permission of Gail Foster, except the one of Gail herself!

 

Gimme a samba band, throw me an avant-garde minimalist techno breakbeat and then chastise me with a euro-pop grunge fusion played by an antelope on a washboard, I couldn’t give a donkey’s kidneys, all music is better than no music; shit, imagine a world without music.

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Perhaps my taste too eclectic. I respect my supervisor’s dedication to one particular band, it’s borderline obsession; but me, see, I couldn’t reduce my tastes to a particular genre or era, let alone group. Bite the bullet, I can hold a conversation once tuned to wavelength, yet cause angered debate if I venture off your playlist. Bollocks, I say, any modern popular musical genre has been wired from the same machine, track the branch you sit on beyond the earth, and you’ll find the same roots.

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For me, last night was a learning curve, as I staged our first “Devizine Presents” evening at the Cellar Bar. In communication with all these event organisers it helps me to comprehend the issues they face, and it’s not so simple as propping up the bar all smug, though I attempted to! All said, we had a great night I feel, but refrain from giving my own gig a review, treat this as a diary-fashioned blog post, but compulsory to give you the heads up on the guys who did all the real work.

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Diverse the line-up may have been and contradictory to each other in style, I knew that, these acts slung together by an inexperienced promoter, me, under a banner of kindness to freely give their time and effort, for which I and Devizes Opendoors are both extremely grateful for. What the acts did bring was their own inimitable panache, and from Saturday Night at the Palladium to Britain’s Got Talent, variety is the spice.

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Local, the Roughcut Rebels have been on the circuit a while, playing mod-rock and indie classics from sixties to today, however with major changes to the line-up, including Jamie, the new frontman it was a chance for them to showcase their modifications. Regrettably, I’ve never caught the original group, but confirm now the alteration is a transformation; they rocked with confidence, panache and flair through Animals, Small Faces and Kinks sixties blues-rock classics to benchmark eighties mod, resting particularly on The Jam, and progressing to Britpop anthems including a sublime take on Wonderwall.

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Ha, I ain’t making no money writing this crap, so just cos the gig has our tag doesn’t mean I’m here to flatter, you know I’ll tell it as it is. The Roughcut Rebels are highly bookable, would make a great band for a lively pub, scooter club, indie night or even are diverse enough to satisfy the multiplicity a wedding reception would crave.

With the moderate crowd building, (I need YOU at these nights, you know you bring the party, you little party-head, you!) and roused, having a poetry interlude could’ve been a mistake, as you could hear a penny drop; who was unaware that Gail Foster would charm and entertain with poignant verse and witty interims? Because I had no doubt, having do exactly this at our birthday bash back in November, and she did this time with equal appeal.

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Now the cobblestone stage was set for the dreadlocked guy parading around attired bizarre, for Jordan Whatley is his own, is the wildcard and as noted in our interview (here) will bring something curious, peculiar to the show, but shine with original brilliance. Armed with just electric guitar, the ambience he set was spellbinding as he went through a set from his new works, previous tunes from his EP …… such as The Forest, to making Pink Floyd’s Another Brick his own.

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The Hound is truly back on the Mountain, appearing alternative but positive, he’s the character you cannot deny his talent and showmanship, as his expressive spectacle sends him to the floor in an intense display of vivid gothic splendour.

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Then it’s all change akin to the circle line at Edgware Road, as after a poignant Brexit verse from our Gail, The Truzzy Boys are raring to stamp their brand of acceptable pop covers on us. Speaking to Finley about his partner in crime under the Larkin banner, Sam Bishop, who unfortunately couldn’t make it, the DIY ethos of being unsigned means they’re not tied to their namesake. A contract would detail it’s Larkin or nothing, split or together, but Larkin continues albeit while Sam is away studying it’s on the backburner, they still hailed a welcomed night at the Southgate recently.

What Finely’s grouping with cousin Harvey Trusler brings to the show is contemporary pop-indie covers and floor-filling anthems with wide appeal, which did exactly that in the most practical means possible. Confident and harmonious they performed a set more than adequate for any age-ranging function, like a wedding. To boot, the musical family’s prodigy would also supply a disco set-up to complete any such function. This is industry, yes, but within the commercialism of it the boys maintain a positive love of performing, and this shines across the audience, sparking them with equally good vibes.

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You can catch the Truzzy Boys this Saturday (18th May) at the Devizes Conservative Club, where for a mere three quid you’ll witness just what I mean; it’s catchy pop fun, with enjoyment throughout and the expertise not to meander into cliché pop mush.

Though I could tell you nothing else is going this coming Saturday, being we’re back at the Cellar Bar, Devizine exists to inform all of local events. It will not and does not favour any category or genre, will treat a church jumble sale and a four-day mud-fest gypsy rave with equal affection. Suitable then is my aforementioned eclectic tastes, or it would be bias, and that wouldn’t do. I aim to cast variety for these charity gigs, using the various venues at hand, if it’s to become a thing now.

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Starting same time, same place this coming Saturday, is my “for instance;” Knati P, renowned on the international reggae scene with right-hand man, Razah I-Fi will be stacking up a sound system down that Cellar Bar, bringing us a dynamic dub party, something of a rarity here in the Vizes. They say, they might even let me operate the controls as a warm-up, where you can expect a set of original Jamaican ska, as my favoured palate, which will wind into lively ska inspired dub; that’s the plan at any rate. You will dance, you can be sure of that young fellow-me-jig.

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But again, I’m asking for donations, preferably a fiver, as I’m not out to hang myself on the music promoter vocation, not with the wonderful experienced ones we already have locally, from Mr Moore of Sheer, The Blues Club, Scooter Club, and Dean of Dead Kool now at the Cavy, to namedrop a few. I do however, ask for a contribution so we can hand it to our chosen charity, this time the homeless aids, Devizes Opendoors, who work towards making life that tad nicer for our rough sleepers and those in sheltered accommodation. I’m not here to get political on your ass, but with the way the country is going, this is more in need than ever.

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So, delighted to say, Saturday night’s musical jaunt has raised £140 which will be banked along with takings to next weeks and handed to the charity. That in itself is a grand job, and I thank the Cellar Bar for having us, and to Harvey, Finely, Gail, Jordan, and The Roughcut Rebels; Doug, Jamie, Mark and John for giving a diverse and amazing night; cheers guys!

 

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