Errol Linton at Long Street Blues Club

In a remarkable finale to the season for Long Street Blues Club, London-based The Errol Linton Band presented Devizes with a sublime lively blues blend of delta and RnB, incorporating jazz, funk, reggae and ska too. But if the band’s proficiency in implementing this melting pot sounds erratic, the perfection was in the precision of switching through subgenres. The result was simply infectious.…..

It’s rarely mused, given the contemporary influence of Jamaica’s musical export, that prior to reggae its route lies with the removal of shortwave radio stations provided for American soldiers stationed on the island after WW2. As they disembarked Jamaica they left a blossoming sound system culture, the entrepreneurs of which set up recording studios as supply of US 45s declined.

They pulled from the influences they heard, jump blues particularly, and within these walls is the fabled Duke Reid session with Prince Buster, whereby copying the offbeat experiments of Fats Domino and Barbie Gaye, as was popular on the sound systems, and riding the shuffle beat style of T Bone Walker, a timeout was called and the guitarist ended by running the shuffle backwards, accidently creating “the ska.”

Even less widely known; initially Duke Reid wasn’t in favour of ska, but as the government promoted it for tourism as “Jamaica’s first national sound,” obviously he felt he’d lose out if he didn’t follow the trend. So, pre-ska, and even during its explosion, the Jamaican studios continued to put out as wider variety of sounds as they heard on US Radio, from blues to doowop and even country. This is a necessary backstory to capture the ethos of Errol Linton and his band, as Errol and two-thirds of the band have Jamaican heritage, are keen to emphasis this, and however subtle, everything mentioned gets a nod in their performance.

Errol is also an accomplished artist, creating portraits of his influences gives clear indication of who he is citing, the blues legends, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Louis Armstrong and beyond. Yes, the band deviated from blues, to throw down a jazzy number, to increase levels of danceable funk, and with a narrative of Howlin’ Wolf visiting Jamaica, they covered Howlin’ For my Darling with a matchless ska offbeat. Particularly diverse was an original “Country Girl,” as while maintaining one-drop reggae, the chorus verged onto a dancehall riff. It was right up my street and knocking loudly on my door, but I paused to observe the more blues aficionado regulars enjoying it equally as much as I!

For all the diversity I’ve noted, and mentioned the pleasure was in how proficiently they switched, even mid-song, this tight arrangement was best at delivering blues, and did so second-to-none. Frontman Errol gliding between vocals and harmonica, cherry-capped pianist Petar Zivkovic lightening on the keys, Lance Rose in porkpie hat, chilled on the upright double bass, perfectionist timekeeper Gary Williams on drums, and guitarist Richey Green presented the funkiest dancing show during play, the combo was spellbinding.

But none of this happened before Devizes-own Adam Woodhouse delivered the textbook support slot. Confident, despite his first outing at this blues appreciation society in which regulars will aim all eyes on you, Adam kicked off with an Elvis rendition of That’s Alright Mama, and with top-notch finger picking, continued covers with a remarkable Johnny Cash. Adam, a regular soloist at The Southgate and attendee of their celebrated Wednesday jam session, had some originals of his own, which were executed with panache.

A most memorable evening was had, in which frontman Errol reigned the moment, showing this natural ability accomplished over thirty years, since a busker of London’s streets. This is British blues at its finest, individually stylised yet heavily drawing from his roots, a perfect blend to homage his heritage, entertain and packaged in such a non-pretentious manner, you couldn’t dislike it; impossible!

An absolutely blinding night for the Long Street Blues Club, organiser Ian Hopkins’ smile said it all, as he clarified he’s been trying to book these guys for a while, and made a promise to the crowd they’d return; you need to be there when it does. The next season starts on 20th August, with anticipated return of Skinny Molly. Worth mentioning though, being we’ve discussed the early stages of Jamaican sound systems and Duke Reid’s Treasure Ilse, competitor Coxsone Dodd over at Studio One gave fame to a majority of reggae artists, yes, including Bob, and another crowned King of Rock Steady, Alton Ellis, that Alton’s son, Troy is on in Hillworth Park around about 3pm today. So, get your sandals on, unless you remain adamant nothing ever happens in Devizes!


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Birdmens Play Long Street

Bird is the Word. If April has seen a surge of memorable rescheduled gigs from Devizes’ Long Street Blues Club, and I’m content and grateful our roving reporter Andy has taken the arduous task of enjoying and reviewing them, May sees the blues club return to a monthly plan of action, meaning there’s only one gig, and I’m itching to attend it myself.….

The lockdown project of a staggering who’s-who of local blues, Birdmens will play the club on Friday 6th May. The line-up of lead & rhythm guitars Ian Siegal, Jon Amor, Joel Fisk and Dave Doherty, the latter also taking percussion, bassist Rob Barry, both Bob Fridzema and Jonny Henderson on keys and Giles King taking up harmonica, this is truly a force to reckoned with, now prepare for it to be a live show, featuring Ian, Jon, Dave, Rob and Jonny.

Armed only with cheap microphones, phones and varying internet speeds, ‘Birdmens’ recorded Lockdown Loaded, an album created in bedrooms and kitchens which thrusts a genuine life-force and verve back into a scene they feel is in need. If blues is having something of a renaissance, it’s not without timeworn formulas and antique following. Akin to the Doherty’s now defunct Little Geneva, here’s a supergroup aching to reintroduce that raw and energetic edge back into blues, something sorely missed on an elder and commercialised circuit.

Defined as swampy delta blues, there’s something retrospectively authentic and underdone about it, a true ethos of blues. I’m leaving a video here for you to make your own mind up, but it’s won me over. Now everybody’s heard about the bird!


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REVIEW – Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 9th April 2022

The Gig of 2022 So Far!

Andy Fawthrop

Following the previous night’s gig with Billy Bremner’s Rockfile downstairs at the Corn Exchange, tonight we were promoted upstairs into the main hall. And that was only fitting – big name, big gig, big crowd, so a big venue required. Last time we were in here was for those other prog-rock legends of the 70s – Focus. This time the hall was full of people, and the stage was absolutely full of drum-kit – a massive and meticulously set up piece of equipment, with a pair of huge gongs at the rear.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer, alongside such legends as Cream, were one of the early rock so-called “supergroups”, and were massive innovators in the world of music. Transcending mere rock labels, they incorporated many other musical forms into their repertoire, particularly jazz and classical.

Carl Palmer has a reputation as a drummer’s drummer. A consummate professional, a brilliant technician and a dynamic showman, he has thrilled listeners and audiences alike for nearly four decades with some of music’s most memorable bands including Atomic Rooster, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Asia and of course Emerson, Lake & Palmer. To be honest, he’s worked/ played with everyone who is anyone. Along the way his dazzling speed and mastery of the drums, combined with his infectious stage personality, have secured for him a respected place in history as one of rock and roll’s greatest drummers.

Carl is now 72, looking fit and healthy, and is the only one of ELP still living. Sadly we lost both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in 2016 – sad losses of talent. To “replace” them tonight, in a musical sense at least, we had guitarist/ vocalist Paul Bieltawicz, and on bass and Chapman stick we had Simon Fitzpatrick. Notice there were no keyboards – everything was reproduced on guitars.

We opened in classic style with “Welcome My Friends To The Show That Never Ends”, before being taken through several numbers from the ELP and King Crimson back catalogue. From the first album we had “Knife Edge” and “Lucky Man”. From the second album the eponymous “Tarkus”. There was “Trilogy”, “Benny The Bouncer”, “Hoedown” and “Twenty-First Century Schizoid Man”. The musicianship throughout was simply stunning by all three members of the band, each displaying some dizzying skills and dexterity with their instruments. Both Paul and Simon delivered stunning solos. Carl repeatedly stepped out from his drum battery to talk to the audience. He was down to earth, chatty and humorous, building rapport easily.

Carl’s big drum solo came, as it must, like a long-impending storm, and arrived in the midst of the last number “Fanfare For The Common Man”. To be honest, I’m not the greatest fan of drum solos because they are so often used to merely let other band members have a bit of a rest, and to keep them sweet since everyone else will have had a solo by then. But absolutely not the case here. Carl’s solo, as we expected it would be, was an absolute tour de force, demonstrating without question what an absolute master this guy is. It was completely stunning, and drew a deserved standing ovation, as the band filed back on stage to close the number out. I think it’s fair to say that this guy really knows his way around a drum kit!

There was still time for a resounding, thumping encore of “Nutrocker” and then we were done. An absolutely stunning night’s entertainment and, for me at least, best gig of 2022 so far! Superb!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 16th April 2022 Billy Walton Band
Friday 6th May 2022 Birdmens
Saturday 4th June 2022 Errol Linton Band
Saturday 17 September 2022 CSN Express
Saturday 8th October 2022 Eddie Martin Big Blues Band
Saturday 5th November 2022 Alastair Greene Band


REVIEW – Billy Bremner’s Rockfile @ LSBC, Devizes – Friday 8th April 2022

Old Skool

Andy Fawthrop

Another night at Long Street Blues Club but on this particular evening we had an enforced change of venue from the Con Club – downstairs at the Corn Exchange.  Yes – in The Bin!

The support act James Oliver and his band was well chosen in terms of style.  He played the same sort of stuff as the main act that was to follow.  Unfortunately his performance relied more on speed and volume, and self-deprecation of his own Welsh-ness, rather than on any particularly musical ability.  His set was very same-y, apart a fairly pleasant and accomplished version of Peter Green’s “Albatross”.  But otherwise it was all high energy, but low talent.  Sorry, but best forgotten.

Then onto the main act.  Not to be confused with namesake feisty former Leeds United midfielder (if you don’t know – ask your dad), Billy Bremner started life as a member of Lulu and the Luvvers (oh – better ask dad again).  However, he’s best known for being with Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and Terry Williams, one quarter of Rockpile, one of the finest bands ever to emerge from the United Kingdom music scene. A fearsomely accomplished guitarist, he has also been an occasional lead vocalist, as well as a great songwriter.  Since the break-up of Rockpile he’s had an illustrious career as a solo performer (four albums), and as a member of the Pretenders (that’s him playing the lead guitar on Back On The Chain Gang).  He’s also played with Shakin’ Stevens, Carlene Carter, and The Coal Porters.  Most recently he’s worked as a producer and all round living legend in his adopted home, Sweden.

Now aged 75, this is the Farewell Tour for one of Britain’s finest guitarists and, as expected, the evening was dedicated to the music of Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile.  The four-piece played two sets, kicking off without introduction or pre-amble.  In fact there was extremely little in the way of between-song chat, and little attempt to engage with the audience.  Dressed all in black, and rarely cracking a smile, they presented a rather dour stage presence.  We had the classics like “I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock & Roll”, “I Hear You Knocking”, “Cruel To Be Kind” and even Kirsty McColl’s “There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop”, interspersed with other material.

To be honest, it wasn’t the great performance I’d been expecting.  It seemed a step down from last time I’d seen the band a few years back at the Con Club.  It was all rather single-paced, one-dimensional stuff, with little variation to leaven the mixture.  As good old pub-rock, rockabilly, power-pop, it was OK but, frankly, difficult to get too excited about.  It was chunky, but at times it was plodding.  Billy’s vocals sounded rather reedy and thin.  And not at any stage of the night did any of the band actually look as if they were enjoying what they were doing – more a case of going through the motions.  It was competent, and it was professional, but it just wasn’t engaging or exciting.  It seemed as if the spark had gone.

I can’t say it was a bad gig, because it wasn’t.  But somehow it just never seemed to really take off.  The crowd, being unusually rather small for an LSBC gig, just couldn’t quite generate much atmosphere.  I guess you can’t like every performer and every gig – and this was just one of those that didn’t click with me.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 4th June 2022                                   Errol Linton Band

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express

Saturday 8th October 2022                            Eddie Martin Big Blues Band

Saturday 5th November 2022                       Alastair Greene Band


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REVIEW – Malone Sibun Band @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 2nd April 2022

Two Stellar Musicians = One Powerhouse Unit

Andy Fawthrop

Another night at Long Street Blues Club – the gigs are coming thick and fast at the moment, and there are several more big ones in the next couple of weeks too – feels like we’re gradually catching up with all the time the venues were closed during Covid.

Support act was local favourite Jamie R. Hawkins, tonight divested of his Lost Trades buddies, and going it alone. Here’s a man comfortable with himself and with getting back to chatting to an home-town audience. Joking that it was almost hard to remember his own songs after the long lay-off and his collaborative work, he then proceeded to deliver a master-class in how to perform as a singer-songwriter. Despite the occasional fluff, his songs remain strong and poignant, delivered with sincerity and a strong voice. Old favourites such as Walking Into Doors, Let’s Put This Thing To Bed, As Big As You and Hey, Where’d Everybody Go! were dusted off and given a good shaking down. There’s not many performers that could get away with singing about divorce, domestic abuse and fair-weather friends, but Jamie’s commentary, wit, and self-deprecating style easily got him through. Great to see him back.

Then onto the main dish of the evening – two very professional sets from the four-piece Malone Sibun Band. These guys were last at the club over three years ago (see? – I told you thee’d been this big two-year hole in live performances!). The guys have a new EP out – “Ashes to Dust”, and this material was well show-cased throughout.

Marcus Malone (vocals, guitar) and Innes Sibun (guitars) were joined on stage with bass and drums, and delivered a power-heavy performance featuring rock, boogie-woogie, slow blues, fast blues – you name it. There was even time to drop back into a couple of acoustic numbers. It may be just me, but there’s something about seeing Innes with an acoustic guitar in his hands that doesn’t quite look right, but I digress. First number in and the band members, clearly enjoying themselves, were soon literally bouncing up and down with enthusiasm.

Thereafter we were treated to the more familiar fare of Innes working his electric guitar, forcing it to give up a whole range of amazing noises through his many solos. There were all the classic gestures – arm-wheeling, head-banging, gurning – and we were back in familiar territory. Marcus, meanwhile, held centre stage, a calmer and more purposeful presence with the vocals. The volume and the pace were dialled up, then down for the odd number, then back up again.

We had the obligatory drum and bass solos late on, but these were produced as grand final flourishes, not as extended self-indulgent passages. The crowd were on their feet, and the encore was a formality – richly deserved after a great evening’s entertainment.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 8th April 2022 Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Corn Exchange)
Saturday 9th April 2022 Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange)
Saturday 16th April 2022 Billy Walton Band
Friday 6th May 2022 Birdmens
Saturday 4th June 2022 Errol Linton Band
Saturday 17 September 2022 CSN Express
Saturday 8th October 2022 Eddie Martin Big Blues Band
Saturday 5th November 2022 Alastair Greene Band


REVIEW – Mark Flanagan Band @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 26th February 2022

Talent to Spare!

Andy Fawthrop

First time up the hill for me this year, having missed the Mike Zito Band last week (too busy running the Winter Beer Festival and listening to The Lost Trades and The Rob Lear Band, since you ask – but that’s another story altogether).  Good to get back to Long Street Blues Club and its dependably great audience and atmosphere.…..

First up, in the support slot, was Lewis Clark who I last saw here back in October when he supported Jimmy Carpenter.  Again Lewis was playing solo, and yet again did nothing but impress with his stripped-back raw and emotional lyrics, accompanied by unfussy guitar work.  His lyrics are, as always, personal and intense; his songs simply command attention.  His set was greeted with rapturous applause, and rightly so.  Lewis was due to play the Sunday afternoon slot at the Southgate on Sunday, where I’m sure he’ll play to a different but equally appreciative audience.

Then for the main act of the Mark Flanagan Band.  Mark is a man who’s been round the block a couple of times, and nowadays plies his trade (amongst other things) as part of the Jools Holland travelling entourage.  In other words, he’s met and played with many of the greats in the music business, which provides him with a wealth of anecdotes and stories with which to regale the audience between numbers.

His trio hit the stage with no big fanfare, and throughout the evening maintained a quiet but purposeful subdued presence.  There were no big drum solos, no guitar fireworks, just a steady stream of competently-delivered laid-back blues, funk, boogie-woogie, folk, Cajun, you name it.  Mark fronted everything coolly and calmly, switching instruments, styles and anecdotes with consummate ease, even giving his band-mates George and Adam a couple of numbers break whilst he just carried on solo seemingly undisturbed and unflappable.

And we had songs – proper songs!  Each had its own back-story of course, either who it was about or the situation that had given rise to its inception.  There was some name-dropping – Clapton, Richards, Harrison – but it was never gratuitous or intrusive, simply adding colour to a great musical tapestry.  The crowd was won over, there was a two-number encore and we were done.  The amazing thing was that Mark hardly looked to have broken sweat – one cool performer!

Another 5-star great night of world-class music delivered by Ian Hopkins and his team – hats off!  And just take a look at the programme still to come during 2022 – a mouth-watering array of talent.  Get those tickets and get yourself along to Long Street Blues Club!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Malone & Sibun Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)

Friday 14th October 2022                               Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 5th November 2022                       Alastair Greene Band


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REVIEW – Kossoff – The Band Plays On @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 18th December 2021

Free At Last!

Andy Fawthrop

And so we came to the last LSBC offering of 2021, marking the half-way stage on the current season of concerts.  It’s been a packed programme recently, but no-one’s complaining about that!

Last night’s offering was as good as a double-header as far as I was concerned.

Drafted in at relatively short notice as the support act was local legend Jon Amor, a man I’ve seen many a time as the head-liner.  He bounced onto the stage brandishing an acoustic guitar, and looking full of beans.  It seemed strange and unusual not to see him backed up with one or other of his bands, particular King Street Turnaround, as I last saw him at the Southgate recently.  But there was no stopping him as he confidently blew through several songs, and at one time wandering out in to the audience to sing acapella before returning to the stage to finish the song.  It takes guts and panache to pull that sort of thing off, but it worked wonderfully.  Highlight song for me this time, as often before, was “Another Stitch In Your Party Dress”.  It was a great short set – chipper, upbeat, confident.  Great to see Jon in such great form.

Main act was Terry Slesser’s 5-piece Kossoff – The Band Plays On, who produced two confident and polished sets.  They were last at LSBC back in May 2019, which I remember as one of the highlight gigs of that year.  I won’t bang on about Free/ Bad Company/ Back Street Crawler being the soundtrack to my musical upbringing in the late 60s/ early 70s but….but…well, they just were.  And, yet again, it was soooo good to hear some of their songs knocked out with precision, love and energy.  Slesser, taking lead vocals, is no Paul Rodgers in either looks or voice, but he certainly makes up for it in passion and delivery.  His command of the band and his easy connection with the audience were winning features.  And the band, again no look-alikes, were terrific when it came to that lovely sludgy, driving Andy Fraser bass and that Paul Kossoff squealing lead guitar.

They kicked off with Free’s “Fire and Water”, a stonking opener which immediately put down an early marker of intent.  I’ve said before that these guys are no mere “tribute” band, content to slog through a greatest-hits set and take the money.  This was much more about “homage” to some truly gifted musicians and song-writers, nicely capturing the sound and the feel of the early 70s, with Slesser’s personal recollections of Paul Kossoff interspersing the songs.  And the song selection itself was interesting and respectful, delivering some of the lesser-known numbers, such as “Long Way Down To The Top” and “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler), “Walk In My Shadow”, and “I’ll Be Creeping” (Free).  And there was the more subtle, non-rocking stuff, such as “Be My Friend”, proving that the band (like all the great rock bands) were not just one-trick ponies, but capable of writing tender and thoughtful lyrics.

Of course there was the usual leavening of stonking hits – “The Stealer”, “My Brother Jake” and (inevitably) “All Right Now” – which all went down a storm.  And, just as Free themselves used to do back in the day, delivering their well-deserved encore that thumping blues classic “The Hunter”.

Great entertainment, and a great night out.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins. 

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Antonio Forcione @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 27th November 2021

Italian Jazz Guitarist

Andy Fawthrop

This was the third Long Street Blues Club weekend gig on the bounce for me.  Following Gerry Jablonski Band two weeks ago, and the blow-away Focus gig at The Corn Exchange last week, it was back to the familiar surroundings of the Con Club in Long Street for (yet again) something completely different.….

Support act for the evening was Eddie Witcomb, who started off with a lot of nervous chatter before getting stuck in.  He played mostly his own material but also hit a cover of Nina Simone’s “Because You’re Mine”.  His songs were gentle, thoughtful pieces, but definably in the downbeat and miserable categories.  Describing himself as a “one song a year man”, it was obvious that his songs were a labour of love.  Some of them had curious, trail-off endings, leaving the audience confused at times as to when he’d actually finished.  Overall his set was entertaining, but low key.  I think he needs a few more upbeat numbers to leaven the mix a little, but otherwise great stuff, much appreciated by a large and supportive audience.  Chatting afterwards over a pint, Eddie said that he had indeed been nervous, mostly caused by simple lack of gigs over the Lockdown period, but that he was looking forward to getting his various solo and group projects moving again – which I’m sure will happen for such a dedicated and talented bloke.

Antonio Forcione, the main act of the evening, is an artist who has been hailed as one of the most charismatic, unconventional guitarists at large in the musical world today.  And with a host of international awards under his belt, this eclectic composer produced two fine sets that had the audience enthralled.  Starting on stage with just himself and his cellist, the very first number was spell-binding and mesmeric.  Then joined by bass and percussion players to fill out this international quartet, he proceeded to produce some truly stunning acoustic music.  It was a mark of the respect with which the audience held him that when he was playing you could hear a pin drop in a very crowded room – no background chatter, no noise from the bar, perfect listening conditions.

The first set was slightly shortened when Antonio had to do some running repairs on his guitar, before coming out of the blocks in the second half with number after number of beautiful, nuanced playing.  Dropping back to occupying the stage solo “to give the band a rest”, he proved that he is an absolute master of his craft.  And then, as the band re-joined, with their sensitive and sympathetic accompaniments, adding layer upon layer of sound, much of it with a laid-back jazz sensibility, creating complex soundscapes, the magic simply continued.  We had a musical trip around the world, with influences from Spain, Italy, South Africa.  It was mesmerising, it was entrancing, and an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Yet again, we were very lucky to be able to listen to an international artist of such standing and musical skill in our little town.  Another great booking by Ian Hopkins.  And another great night out at Long Street Blues Club.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Focus @ LSBC, Corn  Exchange, Devizes – Saturday 20th November 2021

Best Gig Of The Year In D-Town!

Andy Fawthrop

Second day on the trot in the Corn Exchange for me – on Friday night it was Motown Gold, with D-Town’s (ahem) young things bopping away to hits from their lifetime’s soundtrack.  But on Saturday night it was something completely different – a journey into the wilds of 70s Prog Rock, with a side-serving of close-harmony contemporary folk.……

This was a complete change of venue for Long Street Blues Club for one night only, switching from the usual Con Club to a much larger hall and stage, in order to accommodate a more fitting light and sound show for one of the music business’s most famous bands, as well as to pack in a bigger crowd.  And it was a move that was fully justified, as the music-starved hordes of The Vize turned out in their hundreds.

But first things first – the support act The Lost Trades, consisting of three well-known local singer/ song-writers: Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin and Jamie R. Hawkins.  (See Darren’s pre-gig interview with them if you’d like to know more about what makes them tick, [coming soon, Ed!]).  I’ve personally seen these guys sing before, many times, both as individual performers and as The Trades, and they’ve always impressed me.  On this occasion, and with a big attentive crowd in front of them, I thought that they absolutely nailed it.

Kicking off with “Only When We Sing With One Voice”, “Road of Solid Gold” and “Kingdom Falls” – all tracks on their latest album – all three performers looked relaxed and well-rehearsed.  Their multi-voice harmonies were spot on, and their (apparently) effortless swapping around of instruments showcased their collective talent and versatility (including a complete no-panic moment when Jamie broke a guitar string).  The songs were far from being one-dimensional, and instead were nuanced and textured.  As a group, I feel that their song-writing has improved no end, each of them contributing their own ideas, as well as improving the inputs of the others.  Their performance, to my ears at least, is strongest when Jamie takes the lead on vocals and, as they did on their last song, they simply drop all the instruments and just give us the stripped-down acapella harmonies.  All in all a top-notch, consummate performance which I expect will have won them a lot of new friends.  Just superb.

And then, as someone famous once said, for something completely different.  And you couldn’t get much more different than veteran Dutch prog-rockers Focus. 

Currently in the middle of their 50th anniversary UK Tour (which continues to mid-Dec, then starts again from April 2022), these guys are an absolute institution.  Still touring, still making albums (they are now on their tenth!) and new music, and still bringing crowds to their feet across Europe, Focus blew into D-Town and, with a little musical hocus-pocus, blew us all away.

Fronted by founding member Thijs Van Leer (an imposing figure in long black leather coat) on Hammond organ, flute and (ahem) vocals, the rest of the band were: veteran member Pierre van der Linden on drums, Menno Gootjes on guitar and Udo Pannekeet on 6-string bass.  And they seemed to be there on stage in absolutely no time at all, following a rapid changeover from the Trades, almost taking everyone by surprise.  Before we knew it we were off with the first number, fittingly called “Focus 1” – no warm-up, no intro, just straight into it.

And that was the start of a breath-taking two-hour-long set.  Suddenly we were in the midst of progressive rock – heavy chords on the organ, light passages on the flute, with guitar solos, bass solos, drum solos, some wonderful wandering jazzy improv passages, and (of course) those bizarre vocal interludes, scat singing and yodelling.  Most of the set was instrumentals – these are (in true prog-rock parlance) not just “songs” in the conventional sense, but rather “pieces”, consisting of different phases, passages, moods.  We were getting very close to Concept Album territory here, but we managed to avoided any such cliché as that.

Of course we got all the big 70s chart hits – how could they not on an anniversary tour? – “House Of The King”, “Sylvia” and a blistering, massively-extended version of “Hocus Pocus”.  But there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy too – “Le Tango”, “Peace March”, “All Hands On Deck”, “Hamburger Concerto” to name just a few others.  The vocals, such as they were, were largely incoherent, incomprehensible noises uttered by Thijs at key moments in the pieces.  But it was far from a one-man show, as proved by Thijs when he wandered off stage several times, including once through the audience and into the foyer, as the other musicians took their solos and duets.  Menno’s guitar-playing was stunning, and a real highlight for me, beating the bass and drum solos by a long way.

I have to say that this was the gig of the year for me.  By the end of the night the band not only got a fully-deserved encore, but a full-throttle standing ovation.  As far as I’m concerned, they knocked it right out of the park.  If you were there, you know exactly what I mean.  And if you weren’t there, you missed the best show in town!

Given what I’ve said above about The Lost Trades’ equally superb performance, the whole evening delivered a fantastic night’s entertainment, and a really strong advertisement for live music in Devizes.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Gerry Jablonski @ LSBC, Devizes – Saturday 13th November 2021

Rock & Blues Is Alive & Well

Andy Fawthrop

Up the road again for the first of a string of Long Street Blues gigs during November.  You spend ages waiting for a gig to come along, then three come all at once.  Added to the musical offerings of Devizes Arts Festival and TITCo these past few days, and it’s been a musically busy week in D-Town where, as everybody knows full well by now, nothing ever happens……

Support act for the evening was local favourite Tom Harris, playing mostly his own material, but throwing in the odd cover to leaven the mix.  I particularly liked his rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends”.  Tom’s songs are intense and enthusiastic, yet infectious and winning.  He chatted and sang his way through his set, winning over his audience.

Tom Harris; best shirt on!

Main act for the evening, having made it all the way from Aberdeen (by way of Hartlepool) was the powerful and energetic quartet The Gerry Jablonski Band.  Consisting of Gerry himself on guitar and vocals, Pete Narojczyk on harmonica, Lewis Fraser on drums and Grigor Leslie on bass, the band set off at furious pace, letting us know early on that they weren’t here to pussyfoot around.  They knew what they were about, they were loud, they were confident and they seemed determined to pack in plenty of songs.

Through two strong sets, there was the minimum of chat, but just enough to engage the audience.  The music was rough and muscular, but with plenty of hooks and melodies.  Early on we had a number called “Koss”, written in memory of Free’s Paul Kossoff, and the lyrics managed to cleverly name-check many of the band’s greatest hits.  The bass was thumping, the harmonica was squealing and howling and, driven by Gerry’s imperative and rapid lead guitar, the band were on a mission.

Much as I loved it, I was just beginning to think at the end of the first set that perhaps some numbers were a little samey.  But then the band came out in the second set and proved me quite wrong, with quieter numbers, more light and shade, more subtlety.  A highlight was one short number sung by – shock! horror! – Lewis Fraser the drummer, accompanied only by some (for once) quiet reflective guitar from Gerry.  Most of the heavy lifting in the sets was, as you might expect, by Gerry himself.  There was a look and feel of the younger Marriott to me about his demeanour.  Overall the band worked hard as a unit and fully deserved their raucous encore.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 20th November 2021                   Focus (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Yay! The Lost Trades as support at this one, I’m told (Ed.)

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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Spoiled Rotten in Devizes this November with Devizes Arts Festival, The Wharf Theatre, Long Street, TITCO, DOCA and more!

Spoiled Rotten in Devizes this November you are. In what is usually a quiet month leading up to yule, the easing of lockdown has detonated the month, opening it up as anyone’s game. It’s just so good to see a chockful event calendar for the whole county, and so many event organisers making a Rocky Balboa style comeback.

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Aside our dependable Southgate, who’ve led the way for events in Devizes, and continue to provide top notch live music every weekend, free I might add, it’s exciting to see the Cavalier, The Muck & Dundar, and even the Condado Lounge in the running.

There are some big guns coming out too, as we welcome back the Wharf Theatre, who hosted The Paul Simon Story last weekend, and the return of the Invitation Theatre Company from Tuesday (9th) to Saturday (13th) this coming week. The Long Street Blues Club are back in force with three gigs this month, the Gerry Jablonski Band Saturday 13th, Force on the 20th, which is such a whopper it’s coming out of The Corn Exchange rather than usual Cons Club, and the Antonio Forcione Quartet on the 27th.

If it’s sounding good so far, we’ve not even touched on Devizes Eisteddfod from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th, The Lawrence Art Society’s exhibition at the Town Hall from 25th to the 27th, and of course DOCA bring the Winter Festival and lantern parade on the 26th.

With all that I’ve mentioned it would be understandable to have overlooked the icing on the cake; Devizes Arts Festival surprisingly pops up to host some awesome events this month, when it’s usually confined to more summery months. Despite we’ve outlined the individual gigs lined up at the Arts Festival, back when it was announced in August, such has lockdown caused much jiggery-pokery with the dates of such things, and not forgoing I’d suspect the Arts Festival got itchy fingers and simply couldn’t wait until summertime to present us with some amazing performances, these things need reminders, so here I am!

Though the opening gig, Thursday’s Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Jazz Club Tour has sold out, tickets for the others are on the table awaiting your attention, plus, of course there’s free fringe events across town too. Let’s have another look at what’s on offer here, to wet your appetite shall we?

Under the banner, “the show must go on,” the Arts Festival are delighted to welcome Sally Barker to Devizes, on the 13th. In this new show ‘Sandy, Joni & Me’ she will bring some of the songs of both Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny to the stage, exploring the singer/songwriter legacy that was forged in the early ’70s.

Veteran folk-blues singer/songwriter Sally Barker became Tom Jones’ finalist on The Voice UK 2014 after reducing her mentor, and many watching the TV, to tears with her performances. Sally has toured with Sir Tom, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant amongst others. Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans said, “Sally changes the atmosphere in a room when she sings.”

And Friday 19th is Motown Gold time at the Corn Exchange. Dust off your dancing shoes for a fabulous evening from a fantastic band. Motown Gold celebrate the finest songs from the timeless Motown and Classic Soul era, which kind of speaks for itself.

As for free Fringe events, The Muck & Dundar have loop pedal guru Arif Najak bringing laid-back reggae sounds on Friday 12th. Sunday 14th is at New Society, where you’ll find Bristol’s dynamic jazz vocalist Lucy Moon, performing energetic swing and classic swing-era tunes to liven up your Sunday lunchtime. Booking is essential for this one, contact New Society to reserve your table.

There’s a couple more fringe events before the Arts Festival’s grand Motown finale; South Wales’s Big Sky are at The Crown on Wednesday 17th, with roots rock infused with touches of blues, country and psychedelia, they are known for being one of the few bands containing brothers who have not yet had an on-stage altercation! And Thursday 18th sees Mark Harrison at the Three Crowns. An original and interesting songwriter, a stunning guitarist, and a master storyteller.

It is, in all my years of running Devizine, the biggest November I’ve ever seen! But the Devizes Arts Festival doesn’t stop there, this is just filling a gap. I asked artistic director Margaret Bryant if there will be something in the pipeline for a summer arts festival too, and she replied “yes, we’re already planning 2022!”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, just look forward to November; get your Devizes Arts Festival tickets here, for all other gigs and events, see our event calendar for links and info; see you out and about, folks!


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Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?

Pushed forward to Mayday bank hols, who’s getting excited about Devizes International Street Festival? I am, I always am, it’s been the best weekend of … Continue reading “Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?”

REVIEW – Climax Blues Band @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 30th October 2021

New Music For Old Favourites

by Andy Fawthrop

Another trip up the hill to the Con Club for the latest pop-up session of Long Street Blues Club, and another great night with a busy and enthusiastic audience.

Support act for the night was Bristol-based Damian Arketta, a new name for me, but I’m always happy to listen to new talent.  Damian played a lot of his own stuff, which I found generally unremarkable, and a rather awkward cover of Heard It Thru’ The Grapevine.  To be honest I found his singing style a little strident and shouty, and there was nothing special in his playing – no subtlety or nuance.  To me the applause sounded polite and supportive, rather than genuinely enthusiastic, but I’m aware that views may differ.  Thinking that I was perhaps being a little harsh on the guy, I asked around a bit and found a somewhat Marmite response – some folks thought he was really good, whilst others (like me) were far less enthusiastic.  Overall, however, you simply can’t like everyone, and I’ll just say that he didn’t really float my boat.

Main act for the night were the legendary Climax Blues Band.  The band were originally formed way back in 1968 by Colin Cooper who led the band with Pete Haycock through great success and recognition through the 1970s and 1980s.  The current 6-piece line-up, however, are a different set of guys now, but that’s not to say they don’t have plenty of track record between them.

George Glover has been on the keyboards since 1981, Lester Hunton on guitar since 1986, and Roy Adams (drums) and Neil Simpson (bass) joined the band on a permanent basis around 1990.  The current line-up was completed by Graham Dee on vocals, and Chris ‘Beebe’ Aldridge on saxes.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well there was much chat from frontman Graham Dee about the journey the band was undertaking in trying to blend the music from their historic roots, the material they’ve inherited, with the songs they’re writing and delivering today, the completely new material.  The band, quite rightly, want to move forward and to develop.  And the result, to my mind, was a complete success.  They delivered two good long sets of blended soulful, boogie-woogie, funky, bluesy music.  There was also a jazzy feel at times, as the musicians took their solos, then blending easily back into the groove.  The band looked and sounded comfortable, giving the music the space to breathe.  Dee’s gravelly vocals, combined with Alridge’s seductive sax notes, added superb subtlety and tone to the driving rhythm section.

Dee was a terrific frontman, looking and sounding the part of the band’s MC, coaxing and encouraging all the musicians in turn as they took flight.  His rapport with the audience was spot-on – confidential, cheeky, honest, down-to-earth.  And, yes, he did mention from time to time that the band had a new album out (Hands Of Time)!  He also led the audience in a great call-and-response treatment of “It’s A Family Affair” – exhausting, but great fun.  It was infectious, it was engaging, it was a great performance

Overall another great night at the club – great value to listen to world-class musicians in our own back yard.  Well done to Ian Hopkins and his team!  And there’s loads more good stuff in the pipeline too – see the listings below.

So – you know what you’ve got to do – get out there and support live music!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 13th November 2021                   Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 20th November 2021                   Focus (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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REVIEW – Jimmy Carpenter – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 2nd October 2021

Long, slow sax in the evening

Andy Fawthrop

I think we’re all partial to some casual sax when it’s on offer, so it didn’t take much persuasion to get me back up Long Street to the Con Club for the next date of Long Street Blues Club’s winter season.  Tonight it was the turn of Las Vegas-based Jimmy Carpenter and his band, and the Devizes date was the first night of their UK tour…..

But first things first.  Acoustic support act for the night was Lewis Clark, shorn of his Essentials for the evening – just the man, his voice and his guitar.  Lewis played mostly his own material, and a lot of the songs were new.  These were often raw in emotion, but still strong on melody, with some intricate guitar playing and soaring vocal work.  He did play one cover – John Martyn’s I Don’t Wanna Know, and a damned fine job he made of it too.  Lewis is a talented guy, and the crowd clearly appreciated it as a great start to the evening’s entertainment.

Then it was onto the main man – Jimmy Carpenter.  The man came highly recommended on the back of his new album (Soul Doctor) and his Blues Foundation 2021 award for Best Instrumentalist.  The guy is a saxophonist, singer-songwriter, and arranger and has been in the music business for over 35 years – and it showed.  I was new to the guy’s music, but was totally won over by the end of the night.

The 5-piece band played two 50-minute sets and it was the mark of how darned good it was that it seemed to slip by in half that time.  Jimmy was in total control of his band (including a bassist brought in at the last minute due to a possible Covid scare) and, after a few numbers, in control of the crowd.  The sets featured several original tracks from the album, including a really superb rendition of the eponymous Soul Doctor, together with a seamless leavening of carefully selected covers.  Just as I was beginning to think of comparisons – Van Morrison, Southside Johnny, Junior Walker – up came the latter’s Shotgun.  We also journeyed through Peter Green’s Need Your Love So Bad, Otis Clay’s Trying To Live My Life Without You, the Rolling Stones’ Shine A Light, Freddy King’s Surf Monkey and Eddie Hinton’s (of Muscle Shoals fame) Yeah Man. 

All of this was played with enormous panache and great energy, effortlessly working through Memphis soul, boogie-woogie, rock & roll, and blues.  And not content with blowing some wicked sax and putting out a great line in gravelly vocals, the man kept flipping over to lead guitar “just for a rest”.  What a performer!  Needless to say the crowd lapped it up.

Great night’s entertainment, and what good quality live music is all about!  Best sax I’ve had in ages!

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

  • Saturday 30th October – Climax Blues Band (at Devizes Town Hall)
  • Saturday 20th November – Focus (at Devizes Corn Exchange)
  • Saturday 27th November – Antonio Forcione Quartet
  • Saturday 18th December – Kossoff: The Band Plays On
  • Friday 14th January 2022 – Chicago Blues Allstars

WIN 2 FREE TICKETS HERE!

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REVIEW – Creedence Clearwater Review – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 18th September 2021

Up Around The Blues Club

By Andy Fawthrop

Well, it’d been a long old time but finally – finally! – we were back after 18 months to Long Street Blues Club, hosted by The Con Club.  The original artists for this gig had been the USA-based Billy Walton Band but, once one or two other dates on their European tour had been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, found that the tour as a whole had become unviable.  Hopefully they’ll be re-scheduled for 2022.

Which left Ian Hopkins needing to scrabble round fairly quickly in order to fill this date for tickets already sold – and what a great job he did at such short notice.  He found two very competent acts to step in, and the gig could go ahead, even if not quite as originally planned.

Kevin Brown

Support for the evening came from an old mate of mine, Kevin Brown.  He of the oil-can guitar, the blues slide guitar and, when playing on the local pub and festival circuit, Shackdusters fame.  This was his first appearance at the club, playing solo.  His laid-back, humorous, self-deprecating style quickly won over a large audience, who listened in rapt attention. Kevin writes his own material, based on his life experiences, so that the man and the music blend almost seamlessly. His JJ Cale tribute number was particularly impressive.  A very winning performance, which elicited fulsome and well-deserved applause – so let’s hope he’s invited back in the future.

The main act, Creedence Clearwater Revival arrived with a “show” – a pre-programmed set, introduced by, and intercut with documentary voice recordings by members of the original band.  Early on the band explained – if explanation it was – that their rhythm guitarist “couldn’t make it”, so they were doing the show as a trio.  An odd start, but then they got on with ticking the hits off the list – Up Around The Bend, Rocking All Over The World, Heard It Thru’ The Grapevine, Midnight Special, Because You’re Mine, As Long As I Can See The Light, Bad Moon Rising, Born On The Bayou, Proud Mary, Have You Ever Seen The Rain.  The show – delivered as two fifty-minute sets – was performed with confidence and aplomb.  By the end we had singalongs and quite a few folks up dancing at the front.

And yet. And yet…..and yet it left me rather un-moved.  I grew up with the music of CCR and John Fogerty, so I’d like to think I’m a bit of a fan of their material.  So I was surprised to find the show rather unexciting.  The band were professional and competent and captured, to some extent, the “feel” of CCR’s bayou-based sound. Yet somehow, something of the original CCR’s drive and energy was missing.  It felt a bit “CCR-by-numbers” if you get what I mean? I thought perhaps I was being a bit super-critical, so I consulted a few people whose musical opinions I respect (as well as a few whose musical opinions I don’t respect) and there seemed to be a clear consensus – it was OK: the band were good, but not great.  My own acid test on these things is – would I pay money to go and see them again?  Sadly, my answer would be in the negative.  It felt a bit one-dimensional. There wasn’t a whole lot of audience engagement.  They’d come to play a show, and they played it.  Job done. No criticism whatsoever of the great job done by Ian, but not every band can float your boat, can it?

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

  • Saturday 2nd October – Jimmy Carpenter
  • Saturday 30th October – Climax Blues Band (at Devizes Town Hall)
  • Saturday 20th November – Focus (at Devizes Corn Exchange)
  • Saturday 27th November – Antonio Forcione Quartet
  • Saturday 18th December – Kossoff: The Band Plays On
  • Friday 14th January 2022 – Chicago Blues Allstars

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REVIEW; Long Street Blues Club Weekender

January Blues Banished!

Andy Fawthrop

Two days up at the Con Club this week for Long Street Blues Club’s “Beat The January Blues” Week-ender.

On Saturday night we had a packed room to listen to Liam Ward & Malcolm Thorne (support) and the Kirk Fletcher band.

Ward & Thorne, who are new names to me, were a delight. Their set was clean, fresh, quirky and entertaining. Featuring guitar, vocals and some deft touches on harmonica, these two produced a wonderful set of originals which were laid-back and nicely bluesy. I particularly liked their song “You Are My Medicine”. I’d be happy to go and see these guys again.

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Then a single extended set from the main star Kirk Fletcher and his band. Kirk hails from California and is ex-lead guitarist with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. He’s had some great reviews on this tour so far. Ian Hopkins reports that Innes Sibun said he was amazing when he shared a bill with him last year, and Joe Bonamassa rates him as one of the world’s best guitarists. Well, I didn’t know anything about all that, so I could only judge on what I saw and heard.

Kirk himself was obviously up at the front with some snarling guitar work, but there was plenty of featured keyboards too. It took a few numbers to really get the room warmed up, but once the trio hit their stride, the band were really cooking and in their groove. We had guitar solos aplenty, the band providing a solid platform of driving rhythms. There was minimal chat from the stage, and the guys delivered number after number, hardly pausing for breath. The playing was always technically superb, and at times inspired, and the crowd lapped it up, but (for me at least) it didn’t carry that magic spark of real excitement. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed the gig, but it didn’t quite hit my hot-spot.

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Then just 24 hours later, on Sunday night we had Thompson Smurthwaite (support) and Billy Bremner’s Rockfiles. A slightly smaller crowd this time, but still a great atmosphere.

Thompson Smurthwaite is starting to become a regular in these here parts. Having played support here at the Club a few months ago, Thompson has also recently played slots at The White Bear and The Southgate. It was good to see him back with a large audience again. He was relaxed and confident, joking with the audience, whacking out some great tunes from guitar, harmonica (his “Mississippi saxophone”) and stomp-box. The guy put such heart and soul into his performance. Great entertainment.

Then on to the second main act of the week-end. Billy Bremner was one of the founding members of Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile along with Nick Lowe, and produced some great music during the seventies. Prior to this particular outfit he has had a long track record in session work and a member of Lulu’s backing band the Bruvers. Then a season as guitarist with The Pretenders during the recording of On The Chain Gang – he has always been the guitarist to go to. Billy now resides in Sweden and his touring is carefully rationed so the Club were delighted to be one of a few carefully selected club dates on this UK tour.

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Rockfiles are probably the polar musical opposite to Kirk Fletcher. Whilst the latter was focussed on originality, improvisation and exploration, Rockfiles were just as firmly set on reproducing classic hits of the seventies and eighties. The songs were short, snappy, catchy pop/rock classics. The four-piece hit the stage running, sharing the vocals between them, and never let up for the whole of their 75-minute set. This was Old Skool retro and nostalgia at its very best. And the hits just kept on coming, including “I Knew The Bride When She Used to Rock & Roll”, “Three-time Loser”, “Cruel To Be Kind”, “I Hear You Knocking” and many, many more. The inter-song chat was absolutely minimal, so they could pack more in. The music wasn’t complex, but it was solid, thumping good stuff, and difficult not to enjoy. Absolutely no blues were involved in the making of their performance.

Overall a great weekend of music – four great acts, four different styles, but all enjoyable and great value for money. There was something there for everybody. Devizes is so lucky to have access to so much great live music.

Future 2020 gigs at Long Street Blues Club:

• Saturday 7th March Ian Parker Band
• Saturday 4th April Mike Zito Band
• Saturday 18th April Mark Flanagan Band
• Saturday 30th May Antonio Forcione Quartet


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW – Pink Torpedoes @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 28th December 2019

For One Night Only

Andy Fawthrop

Only a week after John Coughlan’s Quo’s rousing set, it was back up to Long Street Blues Club for another great gig. If you needed the Christmas blues blowing away, this was the gig to do it.

Support act for the night was Jamie R Hawkins, aided and abetted by his sometime collaborator Phil Cooper. I suppose you could say that this was two thirds of the newly-formed Lost Trades, but we’ll have to wait until later to hear their new songs. This set was Jamie and Phil classics from their back catalogues, taking it in turn to take centre stage with mic and guitar, then to drop back onto cajon to provide backing beats and vocals. Of the two, Jamie’s presence and performance is the stronger, and his songs stand up much better. And it was great to hear Jamie belting out his rather non-PC “Hope You Have A Bloody Good Christmas”, with enthusiastic audience participation, to finish up with.

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Then an amazing, raucous almost two-hour set from the The Pink Torpedoes. Fronted by ex Dr Feelgood Pete Gage, backed up by former Hoax drummer Dave Raeburn, with guitarist Paul Hartshorn and bassist Pete Lowrey, this four-piece really delivered the goods in this one-off gig.

Keeping the chat to an absolute minimum, the boys launched straight in and played their way through an enormous song-book of rock, blues, R&B, boogie-woogie – you name it. Sounding as tight and professional as if they were gigging every night of the week, the set was full of excitement, raw power and incendiary licks. Pete, on vocals, harmonica and keyboards was the dominating presence up front, but the rest of the band absolutely played their parts.

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At times there was a definite “feel-good” factor in the room, and the dance-floor filled up number by number. There was no tin, but if there had been a tin it would have said “open with care – raw, undiluted and powerful”. And the band did exactly what that tin would have said. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”, Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie-Coochie Man”, Little Richard’s “Lucille”, Bob Troup’s “Route 66” and Albert King’s/ The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” all came tumbling out, one after the other. This was R&B at its very best.

And it was clear that the band thoroughly enjoyed their outing playing together again – the smiles and the laughs, and the audience rapport were great to see.

Another amazingly good gig, another bargain night’s entertainment at Long Street Blues.

Future 2020 gigs at Long Street Blues Club:

• Saturday 25th January Kirk Fletcher (Fabulous Thunderbirds)
• Sunday 26th January Billy Bremner’s Rockpiles
• Saturday 7th March Ian Parker Band
• Saturday 4th April Mike Zito Band
• Saturday 18th April Mark Flanagan Band
• Saturday 30th May Antonio Forcione Quartet


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW – John Coughlan’s Quo @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 21st December 2019

Deeper And Down

By Andy Fawthrop

Images by Nick Padmore

 

This one was billed as Long Street Blues Club’s Christmas Bash, and it turned into a rare old party.

Support act for the night was the irrepressible George Wilding. As usual, he was witty and engaging, a bit sweary, but always charming and completely entertaining, finishing his set with the inevitable singalong crowd-pleaser of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”.

Then two sharp sets from Status Quo’s original drummer’s John Coughlan’s Quo. This four-piece featured the set-up of John on drums, Rick Chase on vocals/ bass, Mick Hughes on vocals/ guitar and Pete Mace on guitar/ vocals. John was a member of Quo from 1962 until 1981, and the set-list mostly featured material from that early “classic” period.

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They’re not a “tribute” band in the normal sense of the word, more interested in keeping alive the spirit of the classic early line-up. But they certainly looked the part – long hair, head-bands, Marshall stacks, and satisfyingly loud, complete with demon drumming and catchy guitar breaks. They kicked off with “Something About You Baby I Like”, and the dance-floor was immediately full. Thereafter we were taken through the early back catalogue from 1972’s “Piledriver”, 1975’s “On The Level” and 1976’s “Blue For You”, including the song they first appeared on BBC’s Top Of The Pops with – “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” – a period when the band were still toying with psychedelia, before settling into their now more familiar rock groove.

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The sound is not complicated, nor sophisticated, but simple and effective and emotive. It does exactly what it says on the tin – good, down-to-earth rocking – and you can’t help dancing and singing along. We had all the early hits – “Paper Plane”, “Caroline”, “Roll Over, Lay Down”, “Without The Rain”, and a rollicking version of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”.

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It was going well, and the crowd were having a party. Then John decided to come out from behind the drums to talk to the crowd and to reminisce. Personally I think this was a bit of a mistake, because the band lost impetus quite late in the set. Whilst it was interesting and amusing, it might have fitted better much earlier in the set.

Fortunately the band quickly got back into gear again to finish with John Fogerty’s “Rockin’ All Over The World”, followed by a well-deserved encore of “Down, Down”, nicely seguing into “Johnny Be Goode”. The dance-floor was full and the crowd were happy.

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Another memorable gig.

Future gigs at Long Street Blues Club:

• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes
• Saturday 25th January Kirk Fletcher (Fabulous Thunderbirds)
• Sunday 26th January Billy Bremner’s Rockpiles
• Saturday 7th March Ian Parker Band
• Saturday 4th April Mike Zito Band
• Saturday 18th April Mark Flanagan Band
• Saturday 30th May Antonio Forcione Quartet


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop/Nick Padmore)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW – Big Dez Blues Band @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 2nd November 2019

Nearly Got My Mojo Working

Andy Fawthrop

Your intrepid reporter had been on the sick/ injured list for most of the past week, and only received his clearance to enter the field of play at the 11th hour after a very late fitness check. Having felt ill, and having suffered the misery of watching England fail to win the RU World Cup, I was feeling pretty low. So what sort of music did I need to fit my mood? Of course there was only one place to head for, and that was Long Street Blues Club.

Not as large an audience as some gigs, but still a very respectable showing. Playing support were acoustic blues guitar duo Mojo Hand, who entertained with a whole string of classic blues covers, including Crossroads, Smokestack Lightnin’, Let’s Work Together, Little Red Rooster, Walkin’ Blues and the eponymous Got My Mojo Working. This was all classic blues stuff from across the spectrum from Chicago right down to the Delta, played straight-up, undiluted and with little fuss and not much chat. Good set from a great pair of musicians.

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The main act were Paris-based Big Dez Blues Band, an extremely tight, competent blues outfit. Of course it was a big notch up on the volume front from the support act, but all the better for that. A great four-piece of drums, bass and twin guitars, this was full-fat, leaded R&B. Both vocals and lead-guitar parts were shared, adding more depth and dimension to the set, which consisted of both originals and covers, again delivered with minimal inter-song chat. The accent was on letting the music do all the talking, and it spoke well. The sound was clean and uncluttered, and the audience certainly warmed to it. The joint was certainly jumping.

Unfortunately, lack of match fitness (and alcohol) on my part led to major fatigue and I didn’t quite make it to the end of the gig, and I had to retire from the field of play. However I certainly felt I’d had my money’s-worth, and wandered off happily to my bed.

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Upcoming gigs at Long Street Blues Club are:

• Friday 8th Nov Ian Siegal Unplugged
• Saturday 30th Nov Gerry Jablonski Band
• Saturday 21st December John Coughlan’s Quo (support from George Wilding)
• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW – Jon Amor @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes

Triumphant Home-Town Gig

Andy Fawthrop

I think it’s fair to say that both Jon, and a lot of the audience last night, had been looking forward to this gig for quite a long while. No surprise then that a packed room was there to witness one of the gigs of the year.

Support act was Thomas Smurthwaite, an artist I’d not seen before. But it didn’t take the guy long to impress me and the rest of the room. An imposing, grizzled and bearded figure, he seemed slightly dwarfed by all the equipment set up on stage around him. But sound-wise he punched well above his weight with voice, guitar, harmonica and stomp-box. His set was confident, laid-back and bluesy. In a short 30-minute set he won the crowd over, finishing with a great singalong version of Janis Joplin’s “Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes-Benz?”

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Then on with the main act, and the reason we were all there. Jon, stick-thin and suavely suited & booted, was there to tour his latest album “Colour In The Sky”, and he was joined on stage by an impressive band of old friends and great musicians – Jonny Henderson on keyboards, Mark Barrett on drums, with Little Geneva’s Dave Doherty on guitar, and brother Chris Doherty on bass.

From the first number, “Faith Reborn” we were in for a treat. Thereafter Jon picked his way through several numbers from the new album, carefully interspersed with many favourites from his back catalogue of albums and bands. The rhythm section, as you might have expected, was solid and strong, laying down a great platform for Jon to let rip with some great solos. The keyboards added that bit of extra depth and texture to the songs. And they were proper songs too, not just excuses for long rambling improvisations, with clear beginnings and endings, Jon’s vocals stringing it all together. This gave the band plenty of opportunity to show off different styles, moving from rocky to bluesy and back again.

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Jon was on great form, clearly relaxed, laughing and joking with the crowd between numbers. There was no doubt that this was a home-town gig, and there was plenty of love in the room. And deservedly so. Jon is a world-class artist, and deserves it for the crowd to let him know it.

Highlight of the night for me was “Juggernaut”. This was the first time I’d heard it played in full-band format, and it was worth waiting for – heavy, driving, and really solid – a real classic.

Absolutely great gig, wonderful night out.

If you haven’t yet bought Jon Amor’s album “Colour In The Sky”, you need to get a copy!

And if you haven’t yet made it to Long Street Blues Club (at The Conservative Club), it’s time you made the effort – world-class blues & rock entertainment in a great atmosphere at an absolute bargain price. Tickets for future gigs from Devizes Books, Sound Knowledge (Marlborough) and from the club itself.

Upcoming gigs at Long Street Blues Club are:

• Saturday 2nd Nov Big Dez Blues Band
• Friday 8th Nov Ian Siegal Unplugged
• Saturday 30th Nov Gerry Jablonski Band
• Saturday 21st December John Coughlan’s Quo (support from George Wilding)
• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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The Malone-Sibun Band and Joe Hicks at the Long Street Blues Club

A cracking night for our blues club last night, which I managed to finally appear at!

After publishing a run of awesome reviews from our man Andy, and with a flimsy hunch he wasn’t going to make it Saturday night (though he did,) I figured it high time and a good opportunity to break my Long Street Blues Club cherry; can’t let him have all the fun.

If I only popped my head around the door towards the end on a previous occasion, it was plentiful to note in our preview of their new season that, “there’s a lack of background noise at Long Street, the audience don’t chitter-chatter through the act like the backroom of a pub, it’s a fully entrancing appreciation society.” In fact, upon entry I was thanking Ian Hopkins the organiser, only to be shushed by a member. Who shushes at a gig? At least one in a hall chockful of blues aficionados captivated by the music, that’s who!

After pondering out loud, feasibly too loudly for this attendee, if this blues club needs a review at all, being it’s marked with exceptionally high-regard on our music scene and the hall of the Cons Club is bustling, I took heed of Ian’s reply, “any publicity is good publicity,” and tiptoed to the bar as if in a Christian Science Reading Room.

With family ties to Devizes, we’ve mentioned the support act on Devizine in the past, and it was good to finally meet him, even better to hear him perform live. Newbury-based answer to David Gray, Joe Hicks is wonderful, simple as. At ease with his surroundings he chats enough only to tune and give a modest synopsis of the following song, or to praise Livewired, for his last gig at the Electric Bear in Bath. He delivers his original songs with appetite but no strain, and aptitude which he makes look like child’s play. Among others, we were treated to his new single, Swim and another spellbinding comfort song called Rest Your Head. Mildly dreamy rather than sombre, his chants sublime, making a perfect cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere so apt for a finale.

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Now for the main act, you know how levels of cool range? I mean, there’s that mate in the pub with the amusing party-trick, he’s pretty cool, right, but compared to someone like Hendrix, he’s a total nerd. Smoothly Detroit’s Marcus Malone frontstages, oozing cool from his gaze to his fingertips like the lovechild of aforementioned Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz. His talent replicates his persona, and combined with a tight band, and Devizes-own electric blues guitar-legend, Innes Sibun, this is loud, proud and quite simply, mesmerising.

I realise now, witnessing the brilliant Beaux Gris & The Apocalypse, and Mr Amor, I was only a fraction engulfed into my epiphany of contemporary blues, the Malone Sibun Band completes it. Innes may appear more like that air-guitar playing headbanger at school who was asking for bullies to pick on him, drawing metal band logos on his army surplus bag in biro and all, but this guy wows and visually loves that he’s wowing, probably sighting a said school tormenter in the crowd, rocking out! The quality of this duo, this collective, is second-to-none, and their music takes no prisoners.

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It was rock, harking back to times of yore, when the blues influence was prevalent, yet more refined than psychedelic sixties, edging more towards traditional Delta or jump-blues than even Cream and Hendrix did. In contrast it was gritty, persistent and never waived from its ethos. Whether leisurelier tempo or all-out detonation, it was not experimental, rather a tried and tested formula. It neither clichéd or borrowed from previous works, it never waited for you to compare it, it was entirely unique, and it was full on in your face. There was no sing-a-long section, popular covers, there was no idle chatter; they came, they saw, they blasted their labour and treasured every minute of it.

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I was left entranced, my jaw hanging low and my mind whisked away, as said noise restrictions of the club crumbled, and its preconceived barriers collapsed, there was no associating the Long Street Blues Club to a library any longer. In all, this club may attract an older majority, but if you’re thinking fuddy-duddies you’d better think again! Next up, Jon Amor, his full band, on the 12th October, but you’d have known that if your read our preview! Yep, in it I did speculate The Long Street Blues is “simply addictive. Hook line and sinker,” I feared, “they’d have me in the palm of their hands.” It’s confirmed now.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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