Marlborough’s Festival Gem; Manton-Fest

Reading Wiltshire Live’s article this morning, in which attendees were evacuated at Swindon festival Live at Lydiard Park yesterday due to looming thunderstorms, somewhat reflected my own weekend. Music Director Stuart Whant of Mantonfest near Marlborough looked solemnly at me and said if we had thunderstorms, he’d have to pull it. I tried to deflect it with flippancy, doubting it would come to that, but his expression told the story of how passionate and dedicated he is about Mantonfest.

Fortunately, despite one passing downpour, bad weather held off for the tenth anniversary of this magical and beloved little one-day festival. If Barrelhouse, the band Stuart plays bass for, performed the most excellent cover of Muddy Water’s “Got my Mojo Working,” wasn’t the only muddy element to this event, it certainly wasn’t going to upset the mood of the crowd.

Here, the port-a-loos are sectioned off according to gender, I duly noted; definitely a very Marlborough occasion! And for the locals Mantonfest has become a cherished institution. With Stuart organising, means Barrelhouse are firm fixture, as the crowd’s explosion of delight when they came on revealed, if the amount of folk attired in the band’s T-shirt didn’t.

I saw, and heard their reasoning, Barrelhouse seriously have their mojo working. Vintage blues with a hard edge groove their strapline, and apt. The cover of Hoochie Coochie Man sealed the deal for authenticity, but more captivating was the way they sublimely adjusted The Ace of Spades to said strapline, breathing a delta style into the metal anthem. Frontman Martin Hands is one cool dude in shades, playing no instrument he sullenly strides around the stage like a young Jim Morrison, and he has the rich, gritty voice which allures like him too.

For want of a plug, Barrelhouse’s signature tune and title track of their latest album, Mainline Voodoo appears on our Julia’s House compilation album, and the instant magnetism of its riff is the central reason why I’m here; they did not disappoint, rather kick over the pedestal the tune caused me to put them on, and replaced it with a much higher, more expensive one! A Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and Honky Tonk Woman finale sealed the deal.

This band, domestic and obviously essential to the festival, were far from the only thing to impress. Due to congestion Marlborough is currently experiencing due to roadworks, they swapped places with Richard Davies & The Dissidents, who as a band made their debut appearance at Mantonfest, with very proficient free-flowing feelgood rock n roll.

The causal, untamed beatnik frontman though has previously performed here in different bands. As a persona he very much reflects a mellowed Jagger-Petty mesh, and has the skill to support the accolade. Backed by a professional bunch, their wavey folk-blues is perfection, told in our review of their debut album, Human Traffic. You’re washed over with the sensation you’ve somehow known these original songs all your life, they’d blend so wonderfully into a collection of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, yet with a subtle hint of English punk, and amusing stage presence, they’re clearly one to watch.

No expense had been spared to make the stage centrepiece, with great acoustics whatever angle you’re situated, as the semi-circle shaped festival, overlooked by the beautiful surroundings of Treacle Brolly embraced it. Top-notch pyrotechnics breathed professionalism into the show as dusk became it, set for Dr Feelgood. A band formed in 1971 which never waned the passing of their frontman, Lee Brilleaux and various member changes, is one I confess my knowledge to not be up to much more than their name, therefore through their qualified skill at projecting some raw-edged blues with expertise ease and passion knocked me for six, particularly, a memorable guitar solo. Even if the encore felt forced when the frontman called it, Milk & Alcohol caused me to realise I knew more about Dr Feelgood than I gave credit for!

Another surprising revelation is the age demographic here, first impressions was an expected older crowd, with their umbrellas and collapsible chairs, but as I enjoyed a rather tasty Sumblers hotdog at the bar, I observed calculating an average age group was near impossible. To nit-pick being kid friendly, could’ve warranted some activities for them, but they seemed as content dancing as the teenagers and twentysomethings who rolled in to enjoy the show; some, I might add, better prepared for inclement weather than I!

But side provisions were adequate for a festival of this size, the upper-end of the food options being a pricey but worthy selection by Green Farm, based in Urchfont. The bar, provided by Ramsbury Brewery was of fair price, and the staff were extremely friendly. And this goes for as a summary of the festival, it was exceptionally localised and welcoming, the organisation of which was untroubled and willing to help with any inquiry.

Working in the morning made me fashionably late, as ever, sorry for missing local band Catfish the most, and only catching the end of The Ex-Men. First act for me to witness was impressive enough. Easy-listening folk Americana filled the bowl from a proficient Joe Martin and backing band. With a golden, rich voice soaring above his age, his originals were astutely written, one called Heartbreak Cult doubly-so, and covers of James Taylor’s Fire and Rain especially wonderful.

I was tipped off to the excellence of this regular event by Devizes’ local music enthusiast and photographer, Nick Padmore some time ago, and on his recommendation made a bee-line for it; it did not fail to live up to it. Yet I didn’t bump into anyone I know from our area, causing me to ponder my notion of a superficially psychological wall on those downs.

Honestly, decades ago when I announced I was moving from Marlborough to Devizes it was met with a horrified reaction, as if I’d suggested moving to Tijuana, or some other murder capital of the world, and equally Devizions perceive to Marlborough to be as affluently cliquey as the Bullingdon Club of 1870, when neither stereotype is true; only a lack of a direct bus route separates them. Yet if such a barrier does exist, it means there’s another circuit of local talent worth exploring, operating literally a twenty-minute drive away. Mantonfest’s dedication to local music proves this, but it’s prone to bringing in some big guns to top it off, too.

The icing on this case, if the mind-blowing Dr Feelgood wasn’t enough, was a welcomed Blondie tribute act as finale. Scotland-based Dirty Harry is the crème de la crème of tribute acts, genuinely and professionally mirroring the magic of Blondie in their prime. The lights shone over the returning drizzle as Mantonfest 2021 came to an enchanted end, tambourine-butt-tapping Dirt Harry, found time to banter with the crowd, young and old, bash out every known Blondie classic, some rarities and even The Ramones The Blitzkrieg Bop unto an appreciative bopping crowd.

Union City Blue, Heart of Glass, Denis and Call Me showcased the culmination of what was a wonderful return for live music in the area, and an area which should take heed, like other towns county-wide; ignore the relation to Devizes in the name Devizine, that’s just our base, we welcome news, events and stories from further afield, including you! And if Mantonfest is anything to go by, I’m taking this show on the road! meanwhile, you should bookmark Mantonfest 2022….


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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 … Continue reading “REVIEW – Creedence Clearwater Review – Long Street Blues Club – Saturday 18th September 2021”

REVIEW: Strakers’ Devizes Comedy – Corn Exchange – Friday 17th September 2021

You’ve Got To Laugh by Andy Fawthrop It really feels as if the old times are back with the very welcome return of Strakers’ Comedy Night at the Corn Exchange.  A fairly packed audience of about 200, with long early queues at the bar, settled down for something we all needed – a great night … Continue reading “REVIEW: Strakers’ Devizes Comedy – Corn Exchange – Friday 17th September 2021”

Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Unique exhibition to open at Wiltshire Museum Featured Image: The Westbury White Horse © Towner Eastbourne Finally opening at Wiltshire Museum on 25 September 2021 is Eric Ravilious: Downland Man, something we previewed on Devizine in October 2019, but, sadly, lockdown prevented. This major exhibition explores for the first time the celebrated artist’s lifelong fascination … Continue readingEric Ravilious: Downland Man

Spearmint’s Holland Park

As spacey as Spaceman 3, I get a whopping chunk of cleansed retro Madchester with the opening of Holland Park, the new album from one of ‘Britain’s best kept secrets’, Londoners, Spearmint. The album drops tomorrow, September 17th, on WIAIWYA Records, and is produced by acclaimed journalist and musician Rhodri Marsden, known afor playing in … Continue reading “Spearmint’s Holland Park”

Play the Wiltshire PCC Game; Fun for All the Family!

Here’s a fun and free game to play for all the family over the school holidays, where you can find out which one of you will be the new Wiltshire Police Crime Commissioner!

Well, actually, it’s a bit rubbish. But face it, once our council tax hits the roof to pay the £1.4 million for another PCC election, after the Tories made what is technically known as a cock-up, you won’t have the spare cash to buy another board game, so you might just as well print out this game board and make do.

You need five people to play the game, each player decides to take the role of a candidate respectively, no arguing now, not everyone can be Mike.

You will need to find a dice, who do I look like? Rich Uncle Pennybags? This isn’t Waddington’s you know. Oh, and some counters too, one for each of the following colour codes:

Blue: Conservative

Red: Labour

Yellow: Lib Dem

Orange: Independent

Murky Grey: Reform

Put your counters at the start and the first to roll a six, starts. Move around the board and the winner is the one who reaches the end first, democratic huh? But beware, if you land on a square corresponding to the colour of your candidate, you must obey the command written on it without question, as real police would. No Dirty Harrys here please; play fair, just like all the real candidates.

Best of luck, and have fun. Just think this could be the first Wiltshire election where the Tories don’t win hands down, but I doubt it, they paid me a backhander to rig the game! If you do win remember to whoop whoop, because that IS da sound of da police.

Hotting up for August 2021: Things to Do Across Wiltshire and Beyond

If July saw the gradual return to normality, and cautiously events crawled back with a welcomed but awkward feeling, while it may be hugely debatable if we’re doing the right thing, or not, August is warming up to be stonker. Events of all types are flung up each day, it’s hard to keep track and up-to-date, nevertheless I try.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t go Pete Tong. Such a divided issue with good arguments on each side, I’m not about to start ranting for either, but I salute everyone organising events, at great risk to themselves financially. All I will say is, it is vital for the success of any event and the continuation of them in general, that we still apply certain rules, restrictions set by the organisers, and adopt the necessary etiquette when attending them. We know what the precautions are, they’re second nature now. The government passed the buck, it is up to us, each and everyone of us to think for ourselves, respect other’s decisions on how to act, but I appeal, act responsibly and long may this continue.

Without further-a-do then, here’s what we’ve found on Devizine for August. It’s far easier to knock this article up with providing too many links, they can be found at the event calendar, and for family events throughout the school holidays, check here; but please do check for updates, it’s never an exhaustive thing, new events are being added. Said that bit before, but it is even more vital to check ahead, to ensure events are going ahead as planned, and what restrictions might be in place at them individually. Have a great August, stay safe.

Week 1:

Kicking off on Monday August 2nd with the +5 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School. Tuesday 3rd and running until Thursday 5th August, RW Football School Summer Football Camp are at Green Lane, Devizes, ages 6-11.

Wednesday August 4th, then. Chippenham Museum host a Children’s Art Walk. Take a walk, through Monkton Park for this fun arty session. You will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park. There’s also the +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School.

Wednesday also sees the first Junior Actors with Lucia, for school years 6-9, for the Youth Theatre Summer Workshop at the Wharf Theatre, Devizes.

Thursday 5th and the Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore starts on Bowden Hill, Lacock. Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm, run every Thursday and Friday through August.

Our first August festival starts Thursday, Wickham Festival in Hampshire, where Van the Man headlines, and the Love Summer Festival at Plympton, Devon starts Friday.

There’s an interesting-sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman staged at Bath’s Forum on Friday 6th -Saturday 7th Miss Red. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old, Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.

Friday 6th also sees the Salisbury Comedy Festival start, Black Sabbath tribute, Supernaut play the Vic in Swindon, and HoneyStreet’s Barge will be kicking as the Mid Life Krisis Collective head down there.

On Saturday 7th time for Sheer Music to put aside their lockdown TV presenting skills and get on with what they do best, hosting gigs. And what a way to start, it’s Frank Turner at the Cheese & Grain. Also, catch the amazing Kevin Brown the Southgate, Devizes, and those mods, The Roughcut Rebels play the Greyhound in Trowbridge.

The wonderful Strange Folk are at The Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon. Concord Drive, Transfer Window and Man in Vest play Swindon’s Vic, Jive Talkin’ perform the Bee Gees at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall and it’s The Bath Festival Finale Weekend, where McFly headline.

For Sunday chilling, on the 8th, get down to the Queens Head in Box where Schtumm presents The Lost Trades with support from Lee Broderick, alternatively the Neeld play The Rod Stewart Songbook.

Week 2:

Monday 9th August there’s a +8 Holiday Club, The Farm Cookery School and +11 on Tuesday.

Wednesday sees another Youth Theatre Summer Workshop, at Devizes, the Wharf Theatre, check their website for details. Chippenham Museum also hosts a Writing & Performance Workshop with performer Ruth Hill, for ages 8 and above. More Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore on Thursday and Friday, and The Cake Lady takes The Farm Cookery School’s +8 Holiday Club.

Friday night, I’ve got Stop Stop playing Swindon’s Vic, and that’s it so far.

Saturday 14th, Cobbs at Hungerford have a charity Emergency Service Day, should be fun for the little ones. For the grownups, cider fest at the Civic in Trowbridge with the Mangled Wurzels.

Lewis Clark is at The Southgate, Devizes, Shepard’s Pie at Wanborough’s The Harrow, and Webb, formally known as Ryan Webb has this EP launch party at Swindon’s Vic, with Broken Empire and Land Captains in support. Hope to get a copy of this for reviewing, some clog in the pipeline at the moment. But hey, it’s also Buckfest at Marlborough The Roebuck where the loud and proud Humdigger headline.

Bedpost, Transfer Window and Pool play the Vic in Swindon on Sunday.

Week 3:

+11 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School on Monday 16th, and the RW Football School are in Melksham. Suitable for ages 6+, Pound Arts welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous show to Corsham Almshouses, for an outdoor performance of The Grimm Sisters.

A welcomed return of events at Melksham Assembly Hall on Thursday 19th, with Neil Sands Bringing Back the Good Times; ol’ time favourite show tunes from the 40s, 50s & 60s and a heart-warming tribute to Dame Vera Lynn.

Friday 20th and Jack Dee’s new show, Warm Up is at Chippenham’s Neeld Hall. I’ve nothing else for Friday night yet, but Saturday21st, woah, festival time!

First up, is where I plan to be, Mantonfest, near Marlborough, with Blondie tribute Dirty Harry, Dr Feelgood, Barrelhouse, Richard Davies & The Dissidents and many more. Over the downs, OakStock at Pewsey’s Royal Oak is another safe bet; Amy Winehouse, Rag n Bone Man tributes, alongside the brilliant Illingsworth.

Meanwhile the rescheduled Bath Reggae Festival takes place, with Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, Hollie Cook and more. Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headline Live at Lydiard 2021.

Howlin’ Mat plays The Southgate, Devizes, while Sex Pistol’s tribute Pretty Vacant are at Swindon’s Vic, with support by The Half Wits and Subject Ex.

Week 4:

Monday 23rd August is +8 Holiday Club at The Farm Cookery School, and Tuesday is11+.From Tuesday until Thursday, The RW Football School Summer Football Camp returns to Green Lane, Devizes, for ages 6-11.

Chippenham Museum has a one-hour workshop to create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by their latest exhibition on Wednesday, for ages 6+.

Thursday and Friday it’s Summer Kid’s Art Club at Wiltshire Scrapstore. And Thursday 26th August sees an Olympic Gold Medallist, Alex Danson running a Hockey Masterclass at Devizes Hockey Club. Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.

All weekender at The Barge on Honeystreet, when Honey Fest kicks off Thursday, with a grand local line-up, including The Lost Trades, The Blunders, and Chicken Shed Zeppelin, to name but a few.

The Southgate is the place to head towards on Friday in Devizes, where my personal indie-pop favourites, (not that I should have favourites) Daydream Runaways are booked in. Also, the highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green, all weekend, with the Full Tone Orchestra and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats appearing Sunday.

A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, Wind in the Willows on Saturday 28th August at Corsham’s Pound Arts. And Sunday, a Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars, Pop Princesses comes to Wyvern Theatre, Swindon.

Meanwhile, it’s the welcomed Triple JD Band at The Southgate, Devizes and HarrowFest at Wanborough’s The Harrow, featuring Jamie R Hawkins, The Blind Lemon Experience and more…


Spend August Bank Holiday at Manton-Fest!

Got your ticket for Manton-Fest yet? Well, hurry up, I need you to give me a lift!

“Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about;” that’s what I said in a preview last January, oblivious to what was about to be thrown up in our faces. At least all my typing did not go to waste with this one preview, as Manton-Fest is back for 2021 and set to go ahead on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday, the 21st.

Here comes a clip-show then, part-copy and paste, as some of the faithful acts booked for last year are intending to come to this one. As I’ve said before, write off 2020, pretend it didn’t happen, and look forward to this summer. Nesting in the water meadow of Manton Grange, below Treacle Brolly, Manton-Fest is surely one to put in your diary.

The tickets are online only: £30 for adults, £10 for teenagers 12 to 15 years and £5 for 7 to 11 years. But hurry, as there’s a pre-crowd; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021 and ticket numbers will be restricted to allow social distancing.

The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar. I’m lucky enough to have seen the real McCoy, so expect me to be critical!

The legendary hard-driving rock n roll- blues virtuosos, Dr Feelgood are also booked. A band which never left the road, from forming in 1971 to lead vocalist, Lee Brilleaux’s untimely passing in 1994, they’re still strong.

The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex-Big Country, Graham Pollock ex-The Hollies, Peter Barton ex-The Animals, Phil Bates ex-ELO and Geoff Hammond ex-Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly, with a wealth of experience between them it couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Vintage blues with a hard-edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, a band who delivered such a mind-blowingly addictive riff on our (plug) 4Julia’s House album, and one I’m very much looking forward to. Another unticked on my must-see tick-list is the excellent Richard Davies and The Dissidents. Since glowingly reviewing their album Human Traffic, they’ve also kindly contributed a track to our Julia’s House album, an outtake from the album.

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit in previous years. Josie & The Outlaw are “MantonFest veterans,” a 4-piece Americana multi-genre band, blending rock n roll and rhythm & blues into country. Marlborough based beat-combo Catfish are a returning favourite, and Skedaddle are Manton’s very own six-piece semi-acoustic band.

All of this, and perhaps more, will be compered by Marie Lennon for BBC Radio Wiltshire. This festival has a long history, with Katrina & The Waves, Toyah, The Troggs and Led Zeppelin tribute Whole Lotta Led on the billings, so they know what they’re doing; me, I’m looking forward to finally breaking my MantonFest cherry; is there time to buy a festival-jester’s hat?!


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Fun Things to Do in Wiltshire During the School Summer Holidays; 2021

Oh yes, it’s coming, you can feel it in the air; or is that more rain? Take a deep breath, because here’s our lowdown on stuff to keep your darling princesses and special little guys busy during the summer break, across our area, to retain some of your sanity and keep you from maxin’ your Wine Warehouse loyalty card.

Ongoing and regularly updated, bookmark this, mums and dads, and check back from time as more stuff will hopefully be added. Please note Devizine cannot accept responsibility for the safety of links outside of this site, the cancelation or failure of organisers to maintain events listed. Thanks, enjoy your summer holidays, and stay safe!

Submissions: use the contact form at the bottom to tell us about your event, and I will add it onto our list!



JULY

From Saturday July 10th: Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge @ Devizes Library

Join the Wild World Heroes Summer Reading Challenge for four- to 11-year-olds from Sat 10 July. The fun free challenge helps children improve their reading skills whilst having fun, it’s also great for good mental health. Children are challenged is to read six library books over the summer (including eBooks), so come into the library from this Saturday and pick up your bag of materials (including a map of Wilderville and stickers) while stocks last! Medals and certificates for children who complete the challenge will be available for collection after Monday 2 August.


Tuesday 13th – Saturday 17th: Collected Grimm Tales @ Wharf Theatre Devizes

Running from Tuesday 13th until Saturday 17th July, The Wharf Theatre in Devizes presents Collected Grimm Tales, by the Brothers Grimm, directed by Debby Wilkinson.

Familiar and less known stories from the Brothers Grimm are brought to the stage in this acclaimed adaptation. Using a physical and non-natural style of performance, these are stories that will journey into the warped world of imagination. We will see Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, all performed by a small, adult cast on a simple set. The audience will be required to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for adults and children alike!


Wednesday July 14th: Starcrazy – Open-Air Theatre back again at Ogbourne Maizey

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY BILL SCOTT, WITH ORIGINAL MUSIC BY TOM ADAMS

October 1957: the world lives in fear of nuclear war, Russia has launched Sputnik 1, UFOs are cropping up everywhere, MI5 is on high alert and Stanley is building something in his garden shed.

He may live in suburbia but, in his mind, Stanley is voyaging through outer space. He hopes to make contact with other life forms. His neighbour, Gwen, thinks he should be exploring the unknown much closer to home…

A cosmic comedy about obsession and the rekindling of love, hope and possibility

Estimated running time: 1hr 10 mins, no interval

Everyone welcome, but as a guide we recommend the show for age 7+


Saturday July 17th – Saturday July 24th: Charlie & Stan @ Theatre Royal Bath

Show your kids the brilliance of the silent movie comedy greats at Bath’s Theatre Royal.

In 1910, the then unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail from Liverpool to New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall troupe. On the voyage, they shared a cabin, they shared comedy routines and they shared laughter. Inspired by real life events, Told by an Idiot’s acclaimed production is the remarkable story of the greatest double act that nearly was and is a hilarious and deeply moving homage to two men who changed the world of comedy forever. Tickets from £23. Children best seats £22.50 at all performances.


Friday July 16th: Under 5’s Coffee and Craft Morning @ Wiltshire Scrapstore

Bowden Hill, Lacock. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Friday July 16th: King Arthur at Manor Farm, Upton Cheyney

Local theatrical tour of a fun and farcical family adventure by The Last Baguette. Suitable for ages 5+

Somewhere in England, a long time ago, a very, very, very long time ago. So long ago that nobody quite knows whether it happened or not. Or where it happened or not. A boy pulled a sword from a stone and became King. A story of the old world, with knights, wizards, mist and magic. This fun and farcical adventure is deliberately anarchic and anachronistic re-telling of the Arthurian Legend with live music, physical comedy and lo-fi acrobatics. And some silly jokes…

This is an outdoor production, please bring your own chairs, blankets. The field at Manor Farm will be open from 6pm for picnics, prior to the 7pm performance. The tour continues, courtesy of Pound Arts, see below for other venue dates.


Saturday July 17th: Food Glorious Food Photography Day: Cricketts Lane & Lords Mead Allotments, Chippenham.

Join the Photo Club and Chippenham Museum at a local Chippenham allotment to learn how to capture portraits of fresh produce. These free sessions take place on Saturday 17 July at the following times: Time: 10am – 12pm Ages: 9-14years. Location: Cricketts Lane. Time: 12:30-2:30pm Ages: 15-18 years. Location: Cricketts Lane.

These free sessions are part of a celebration of locally grown and seasonal produce by The Food School have been made possible through funding from Chippenham Borough Lands Charity.


Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th July: the Southern Counties Organ Festival on The Large Green Devizes.

 Sunday July 18th: King Arthur at Kington Langley Recreation Ground.

See above (Friday July 16th)


Monday July 19th: The Farm Cookery School

Kids who can cook, well, I say, have to be the best kind of kids ever! The Farm Cookery School at Netherstreet Farm near Bromham has a great summer programme, in a kitchen divided into 6 Covid-Safe Acrylic ‘Cookery Pods’. Each pod is suitable for 2 children to share.

Starting Monday 19th July with a Cookery Camp, for children aged 11+  where the young chefs get to come along for 2 days (8.30am – 4.00pm) to learn all about food; make breakfast, lunch & snacks to eat at the school, then make tea and desserts which they will take home with them. The camp includes 2 days of tuition, ingredients, recipes & meals.

I’ll list the events here, simply with a brief title, as there’s so many good ones!


Monday July 19th – September 12th: Under the Moon @ Longleat

Discover the wonderful creatures of the dark who have inhabited The Longhouse under the light of the Moon. Then explore Longleat’s nocturnal wildlife with dramatically enlarged straw sculptures in the open air.

Experience the astounding astronomical work of art by UK artist, Luke Jerram, titled the Museum of the Moon, as you wander up close to the orbital illuminator of the night. This 6 metre suspended replica of our Moon was created using detailed NASA imagery with each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture representing 6km of the moon’s surface!

Then observe the fascinating flora and fauna of the dark such as bioluminescent algae, blind cave fish, and the slender loris. Discover the mysterious creatures of dark with illuminating insights on their adaptations like why the blind cavefish have no eyes and emperor scorpions glow a bluish-green under UV light.

Step outside of The Longhouse and the wildlife exploration continues with a focus on the native animals active around the Park at night. Discover more about the barn owl, fox, mole, snail and others as we celebrate our nocturnal wildlife with huge straw sculptures.

Join us for a summer of exploration of new and native animals

Need to know

  • This exhibition is designed to be a sensory, calm experience, utilising the wide space of The Longhouse.
  • The Longhouse is fully accessible.
  • The number of guests in the Longhouse will be monitored and managed throughout the day to maintain safe social distancing and guest comfort.

Tues 20th

Wednesday July 21st: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thurs 22nd

Friday July 23rd: King Arthur at Sherston Village Hall

See above (Friday July 16th)

Saturday July 24th: Bromham Teddy Bear Trail

Bromham Carnival may’ve been cancelled but there will be a Teddy Bear Trail on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th July. This year’s theme will be ’60 Years of Family Films’ with 40+ Teddies around the village, created and generously sponsored by local businesses and individuals. See how many you can guess – and enjoy a walk round the beautiful village of Bromham. Refreshments available. Entry forms £2.50 each available from the Social Centre in New Road.


Sun 25th


Monday July 26th: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Monday July 26th: PH Camps begin


Tuesday July 27th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday July 27th: Devizes Tennis Club Holiday Camp

Anyone for tennis? Summer camps start on 27th July at Devizes Tennis Club, ongoing sessions from 10am-3pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until 19th August.


Wednesday July 28th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first is Senior Actors with Lou is on Wednesday July 28th, for school years 10-13.


Wednesday July 28th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday July 28th: Summer Holiday Workshops @ Chippenham Museum: Make an Embroidery Sampler.

Ages 8 and above. 10.30am – 12.30pm Join Members of the Bath Textile Artist Group to make an embroidery sampler at Chippenham Museum. Once it was only girls who used to have fun with samplers but now anyone can have a go. Come and explore the history of samplers and start to stich your own. You will learn different stitches and can choose a range of motifs to produce your own design or sew a prepared piece. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced stitcher there will be something for you.


Wednesday July 28th: Bath Rugby Summer Camp coming to Devizes RFC

Bath Rugby coaches are back on the road again and coming to a rugby club near you! A full summer of coaching activity has been planned across Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset ensuring that everybody has the chance to get involved. And what’s more, we have a session at Devizes RFC on Wednesday 28th July!  The camp is designed for U7’s through to U16’s looking to hone their skills and is open to all abilities.



Thursday July 29th: Fireman Sam Saves the Circus @ Bath Forum

When all of his friends go away, Norman Price decides to find adventure in Pontypandy and become the star of a visiting circus. But with a tiger on the loose and faulty lights, the adventure soon turns to danger. Can Fireman Sam come to the rescue and save the circus?

Join Sam, Penny, Elvis, Station Officer Steele and Norman in an all singing, dancing, action-packed show. You can become a fire-fighter cadet and then watch the magic of the circus.

So, come along to Pontypandy and watch the adventures unfold!

This event is being sold as a socially distanced event at the present time, but should government guidelines allow, socially distanced seating may not be in place at the time of the event. Book Here


Thursday July 29th: The Cake Lady’s +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Friday July 30th: King Arthur at The Corsham Almshouse

See above (Friday July 16th)


Saturday 31st July: MFor 2021 @ Lydiard Park

If you fancy taking your kids to a local family festival with acts they’ll enjoy, rather than being dragged along to, check out MFor 2021 at Swindon’s Lydiard Park. Craig David, TS5, Sigala, Raye, Ella Henderson, Gracey & more! Lots of entertainment is included in the Saturday ticket price and you are promised a fantastic music line-up. Under 5s go FREE.


The Great Poppy Party @ The Crown, Bishops Cannings


August

Sun 1st


Monday August 2nd: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday 3rd – Thursday 5th August: RW Football School Summer Football Camp @ Green Lane, Devizes Ages 6-11


Tuesday August 3rd: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday August 4th: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The first Junior Actors with Lucia workshop is on Wednesday August 4th, for school years 6-9.


Wednesday August 4th: Children’s Art Walk by Chippenham Museum

2pm – 3pm. £4 per child. Recommended age 6 and above, all children must be accompanied. Meet at the town bridge entrance to Monkton Park.

Take a walk through Monkton Park with a bit of a difference. For this fun arty session, you will receive a pack with pencils, crayons and plenty of paper and join local artist Kirsty Jones to explore the wonderful setting of the park.


Wednesday August 4th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thursday 5th and 6th August: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Friday 6th -Saturday 7th: Miss Red @ Bath Forum

An interesting sounding new family musical written and produced by Mel Lawman is staged at Bath’s Forum early August. Devizes folk support this, because our homegrown talented twelve-year-old Jessica Self from Centre Stage Academy of Dance in Devizes and Stagecoach Trowbridge is in the cast, playing Daisy Blewitt. We wish you all the best, Jessica.


Sat 7th

Sun 8th


Monday August 9th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday August 10th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday 11th August: Youth Theatre Summer Workshop @ the Wharf Theatre

I’ve given details of Devizes’ Wharf Theatre’s exciting ongoing Youth Theatre, which starts the full courses towards the end of September. But, in addition to the fuller workshops the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all. The second workshop for Senior Actors with Lou, for school years 10-13 and Junior Actors with Lucia workshop, for school years 6-9.


Writing & Performance Workshop by Chippenham Museum

9.30am – 3.30pm. Ages 8 and above, please bring a packed lunch.

Come and join writer, facilitator and performer Ruth Hill for a day of writing and performing. In the morning you will write something inspired by the museum’s exhibition which focusses on local Victorian diarist Rev. Francis Kilvert. Using the exhibition for inspiration, you will write stories, poems and scripts. Ruth will help you create a piece of work you are proud of and in the afternoon, you will work together to direct, stage and perform your pieces of writing to a small audience of your family and friends.  You can take part as a writer, performer, director or all three. Come and develop your skills, whether you love writing and performing, or just want to give it a go.

Thursday 12th – Friday 13th: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Thursday August 12th: The Cake Lady’s +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Fri 13th

Saturday 14th August: Charity Emergency Service Day @ Cobbs, Hungerford

A police car and van, fire responder car, and fire truck are visiting Cobbs. A free event hoping to raise some money and put a little love back into our emergency services, to say thank you for the incredible job that they do. There will be a raffle. Please note: If you would like breakfast or lunch in the cafe, book a table in advance: www.cobbsfarmshops.co.uk/book-a-table


Sun 15th

Monday August 16th: +11 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Monday August 16th: RW Football School Melksham


Tuesday August 17th


Wednesday August 18th: +5 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Thursday August 19th: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Friday August 20th: The Grimm Sisters @ Corsham Almshouses (outdoor theatre)

Suitable for ages 6+. Pound Arts are excited to welcome Scratchworks Theatre Company’s joyful and mischievous brand-new show to Corsham, for an outdoor performance at Corsham Almshouses. Please bring along chairs, blankets, cushions, afternoon teas and picnics. The venue will be open one hour prior to the performance start time for audience to arrive, settle in and get comfortable.


Saturday August 21st: Live at Lydiard 2021

Another one-day festival at Swindon’s Lydiard Park, with Anne‐Marie, Dizzee Rascal and Clean Bandit headlining. Information is vague on this one, but by the line-up it sounds family-friendly.


Sun 22nd


Monday August 23rd: +8 Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Tuesday 24th – Thursday 26th August: RW Football School Summer Football Camp @ Green Lane, Devizes Ages 6-11


Tuesday August 24th: 11+ Holiday Club @ The Farm Cookery School


Wednesday 25th August: Simple Scrapbooking at Chippenham Museum

10am / 11.30am / 1pm / 2.30pm. Ages 6+ (under 8s accompanied)

In this one-hour workshop create your own simple mini scrap book inspired by our latest exhibition. Use words, photos and your own drawings to explore this popular Victorian pastime.


Thursday 26th – Friday 27th: Summer Kid’s Art Club @ Wiltshire Scrapstore, Bowden Hill, Lacock

Sessions from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm at Wiltshire Scrapstore, run every Thursday and Friday through August, starting on the 5th. https://www.wiltshirescrapstore.org.uk/


Thursday 26th August: Alex Danson Hockey Masterclass @ Devizes Hockey Club

Olympic Gold Medallist Alex Danson runs a hockey masterclass.  Open to all hockey players aged 11-18 – you don’t have to be a member of DHC.


Fri 27th

Saturday 28th: The Fulltone Festival 2021 @ The Green, Devizes

The highly anticipated FullTone Festival returns to Devizes Green.


WIND IN THE WILLOWS, 28 August, 6.30pm @ Pound Arts.

A theatrical outdoor re-telling of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, performed in The Pound arts centre car park. Calf 2 Cow wowed a sold out crowd here at the arts centre back in June with their outdoor theatrical extravaganza “The Wave”, and now they’re back! This time they’re retelling a classic children’s tale, known the world over, with a modern gig-theatre twist. https://mailchi.mp/poundarts/wind-in-the-willows-a-theatrical-outdoor-experience

Sunday August 29th: Pop Princesses @ Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

A Magical show where beautiful Princesses become Pop Stars! This is the children’s pop concert with a big difference. A musical spectacular starring four fabulous Fairy tale Princesses who just love to sing! It’s the perfect mix. Featuring a soundtrack of top pop hits from artists such as Little Mix, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, and internet sensation, JoJo Siwa, plus songs from all your favourite Films and Musicals.


Mon 30th

Tues 31st

September:

Wed 1st

Thurs 2nd

Fri 3rd

Saturday 4th September: Twilight Cinema in the Park @ Hillworth Park, Devizes

Ladies and gents, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Hillworth announce this year’s Twilight Cinema film is the Greatest Showman Sing-a-Long!! Pre-film music, pop-up bars, and food. Tickets.


Saturday 4th September: Horrible Histories Live @ Bath Forum

We all want to meet people from history! The trouble is everyone is dead!

So it’s time to prepare for Horrible Histories live on stage with the acclaimed production of Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians!

Are you ready to swing with a Georgian king? Can you see eye to eye with Admiral Nelson? Does the Duke the Wellington get the boot? Dare you dance the Tyburn jig? Will you be saved by Florence Nightingale? Find out what a baby farmer did and move to the groove with party Queen Victoria!

Don’t miss this horrible history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!

BOOK HERE.


Sun 5th




Trending….

June: State of the Thing; a Monthly Guide to Last and This Coming Month of Devizine

So, who told the April showers that the lockdown applied to it? Come on, I want names! Last month of lockdown was dry and clement, as soon as things starts opening up again, it phased between drizzle and downpour; you can’t make it up.

Yes, I wrote this too soon; bang on cue, here comes the sun for June.

If May saw a gradual return to normality, pray it continues; June should explode, either way. We started the month with concerns over Calne’s Central Youth & Community Centre, and I attended a small protest in Rowde to save Furlong Close. Not forgetting local election would inevitably send me on the usual rant, but Wiltshire lays all its eggs in the same basket. And then, wham, had to rant twice in one day when Seedy pulled out of the PCC election, you certainly couldn’t make that up!

Save Furlong Close protest in Rowde

Musically, a couple of press releases from Sheer, announcing Salem’s national tour with them hosting Swindon’s Vic gig in October, and Frank Turner at Frome’s Cheese & Grain on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June. But the best Sheer post was more about Kieran’s mum, jumping out of a plane, fundraising for her grandson.

I reviewed Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5’s album Another Time Another Dimension, Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants album A Kitchen Sink Drama. Also, Sam Bishop’s great EP Lost Promises, a single from Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory’s called Can’t Come Home, and a new track from the Longcoats, Nothing Good. We also did a great interview with Dave Lewis, one half of Blondie & Ska. Reviews in the next few days will be an EP of Celtic punk from Liddington Hill, some awesome punkish blues from Elli De Mon, and the new album from The Lost Trades, due on 2nd June.

Blondie & Ska

I started a new Sunday series, being the last one was so popular. No satire this time, just a reflection back thirty years to the era of the rave, from a personal angle; I’m having lots of fun with this, if it does make me feel old! This continues into June. So, without further to do, here’s what’s occurring in June.

Old Skool Rave

Firstly, staying at home we can entertain you too. I’m gradually working through writing promotional material and sleeve notes for our compilation album, 4 Julia’s House, which, as it sounds, all proceeds will go to Julia’s House. This has proved more work than I anticipated for me, due to the most amazing line up of talent who has kindly donated a song. The penultimate entry was an exclusive rock steady track by Blondie & Ska, and the latest entry is by none other than Richard Davis & the Dissidents. See what I mean now, don’t you? Absolutely fantastic, massively hugely massive this is going to be, over three hours of genre-crossing music; something for everyone on there. Okay, I’ll copy and paste the artists featured; hold onto your jawbone.

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

A mahoosive thanks goes to: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Wilding, Richard Davis & The Dissidents, Barrelhouse, Tom Harris, Will Lawton & the Alchemists, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Nigel G. Lowndes, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, Barmy Park, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, Cosmic Shuffling, Blondie & Ska, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Oyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Meru Michae, Cutsmith, The Tremor Tones, Big Ship Alliance, First Born Losers, Dutch Money(s), and last but by no means least, Neonian, who is working on a track as we speak.

Phew, so, yes, who is as out-out as Mickey Flanagan in June? I know right, how surreal. I went to a pub, an actual pub, and heard live music last Saturday; down the trusty gate for those Daybreakers. Bloody fantastic it was too. Here’s some things to be looking forward to over this month. Note, this is in no way exhaustive, (which is what I’m going to be trying to keep up to date with it all!) You must continue to check our event guide, for details of all events listed here, updates of events, and even live streamed.

Half term sees us into June, ongoing from Tuesday 1st there’s holiday activities at Wiltshire Museum, which we welcome their reopening, and program of forthcoming events.

Also, back in business is the Nether-Street’s Farm Cookery School, who has a parent and child class called Cake Lady on Thursday 3rd.

The weekend sees The Devizes Lions Sports Coaching Weekend at Devizes Leisure Centre, IndieDay happening across Devizes town centre, meanwhile Devizes Southgate welcomes Texas Tick Fever.

There’s a Court Room Cabaret at Trowbridge Town Hall, Talk In Code play Swindon’s Level 3, with Atari Pilot, and Rude Mood are at The Vic.

Eddie Martin is live at The Bell in Bath, and we wish the Bath Reggae Festival a successful first event, let’s hope it’ll become an annual thing.

While we’re on about festivals, the following weekend, from Friday 11th is Kite Festival at Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire. Closer to home, Trevor Babajack Steger is at The Southgate, Devizes on Saturday, and don’t forget Lions on the Green in Devizes, Sunday 13th; let’s support their brand-new fund-raising event. Joh Griven also has a guided tour of the Heritage Walk of Devizes.

This sounds fun too, Mustard Brass Band live at The Bell in Walcott Street, Bath

Monday 14th there’s an important meeting online, a progress report on Wiltshire Museum’s hopeful move to the Assize Court.

Summer Solstice weekend, (solstice being 4:30 on Monday 21st) kicks off the Bigfoot Festival at Ragely Hall, Warwickshire. Closer to home, as it goes to press, the Kington Langley Scarecrow Festival is still happening. The HoneyStreet Barge presents Troyka, on Saturday 19th, Jon Amor’s King Street Turnaround at The Southgate, Devizes and Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue with the Pete Gage Band at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

There are also two great charity fundraising events, Caroline Lowe as Amy Winehouse at Swindon’s Swiss Chalet, in aid of The Specialized Project, which acts as a fundraising portal for many charitable causes and projects. And at The Rose & Crown in Worton, Chloe Jordan, Mistral and the Celtic Roots Collective have a fundraiser for MacMillan Cancer Support.

To the last weekend of what will, finger’s crossed, be an amazing return to normality, on Saturday 26th, The Southgate, Devizes welcomes Blind Justice, and the brilliant Blondie & Ska play The Greyhound, Trowbridge. But I’m hopefully saddling up and heading east, for geetars and corset swinging fun at the Barge on HoneyStreet, where those Boot Hill All Stars plan to moor up, with Dry White Bones; that one will go off!

 As far as I know, the legendary Black Uhuru at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Sunday 27th Blondie & Ska will be at the Royal Oak, Corsham. But as I say, loads more will be listed by the time we know what’s what, and hopefully a summer to remember is on the cards; just have to take responsibility for adhering to regulations and observing social distancing. Have a great June.


Trending….

Fish N Chips Getting Feisty

That’s more like it, proper English spring weather; the drizzle and occasional downpour returns! What better matching tucker could you get other than Britain’s favourite dish? But Britain’s favourite dish has never been this good. I’ve discovered The Feisty Fish, and now there’s no turning back.

The light at the end of the lockdown tunnel maybe in sight, but a little way off. The popularity of mobile popup kitchens isn’t winding down yet. Village and market town folk are still happy to queue, whatever the weather.

What will become of the trend when pubs and restaurants reopen is anyone’s guess, but if it continues, they’ll surely have to up their game. Rob, partner of the newly opened Feisty Fish takes each day as it comes, not ruling out the possibility of aiming the business at the event and festival circuit after lockdown. For while the key for many popup kitchens is to offer something exotic and a little different, The Feisty Fish do the opposite. This is gourmet at its simplest formula, Britain’s favourite, good old fish n chips.  

Chef Mark appeared content, when I rocked up for their first day camped at Calne’s Bug & Spider. After working abroad and on cruise ships, his last jaunt as head-chef on a yacht in Thailand, he smiled to the fact he was his own boss here. I asked him why fish n chips, while others aim for the unusual. “I feel the English are being let down; everyone loves fish n chips,” was the modest explanation, and while sure about the latter part to it, chippies remain packed every weekend across the county. The proof here is in the pudding; who am I but to dip in?

The menu and mobile kitchen are humble, fish n chips, battered sausage, Rowdey Cow ice cream for dessert, the price a mere pound or so above the average chippy, but the taste blows them all out of the water. The expertise of a head chef makes this a whole other ball game. Even the curry sauce is to die for!

Rob is proud to let me know the haddock is fresh daily from Grimsby, and everything, from fish to sauces are freshly prepared; there’s none of those heated cabinets keeping it lukewarm here. And yeah, I raced home with two standard haddock and chips dishes. From Calne the average chip shop chips would’ve greased through the paper and turned to mush upon my return. But presented in this cardboard container, these double or triple-cooked beauties stood the journey, and tasted like the best chips I’ve ever tasted for one outstanding reason, they were the best chips I’ve ever tasted. And if you know me, you’ll know, I’ve tasted chips, blooming loads of ‘em!

The fish was as it claimed to be, fresh, flaky, swathed in golden batter cooked to perfection, and served with a fresh chunk of lemon for my squeezing pleasure. Oh, and tartar sauce comes as standard, and is equally wonderful.

Now comes the killer; peas, the Marmite of fish n chips. Some like ‘em mushy, others like ‘em solid, but be it a north-south divide thing or just personal preference, the disaffected belief is steadfast on both sides of the fence, and no one budges on the issue. Me, I’m a solid pea kinda southern Nancy. Weirdly though, those Feisty Fishers bridge the gap with “broken peas.” Somewhere between the two, I actually munched my way through these, as far from the runny green sauce of mushy, or the pinging off your plate style of solid peas, this just worked, for all. Anyone who can unite the mushy and solid pea militias, thoroughly deserves every positive commendation going!

So, here comes the crunch, lesser than that of those gorgeous chips, but equally important. Even after one visit, I was left thinking, Harry Ram-who’s-dat-now? And I accept Tom Kerridge gave birth to the Michelin star pub grub inclination, but if you book The Hand & Flowers today, your hour-and-half trip to Marlow might happen for a Tuesday lunchtime a decade from now. But while these guys need an outlet on every major high street, this is a local, exclusive club secret I’m letting you in on here.

It’s only their sixth week in existence, and you’ll have to rendezvous at their weekly meeting points. These may change, so spare their Facebook page a like for updates, but for now, you will find them hanging out from 5pm-9pm, Wednesdays at The Bug & Spider, Calne, Thursdays at The Village Hall in Mildenhall, near Marlborough, Fridays at the old Chocolate Poodle in Littleton Panell, Devizes, and Saturdays at Milton Lilbourne’s Village Hall, Pewsey.

Thing is, and it’s a wonderful thing, if you’re not from those places, it’s well worth the drive. You can order online through their website, and get to taste exactly why I’m giving top marks.


Trending…….

Hoping for a Summer of Local Music Festivals

Presented a punter-based cautionary piece on the hopeful move forward for live music this year, and how chancy it all is at this stage. If the playground remains uneven, I never intended the article to be pessimistic, though it may’ve been perceived that way. I just advised applying caution may be necessary prior to a compulsory detonation of over-excitement.

The other side of the coin of this vicious circle is that, without ticket sales there will be no show. While many organisers have cancelled their regular events, some keep their fingers and toes crossed, others are trying to work through it, and are dowsing a silver lining to this cloud with a summer of festivals planned.

Let’s hope and pray it pays off. Festival websites report that it is, and tickets are selling fast, which agreed, could be a sales pitch. So, you’re left to risk the call, and snap up tickets, especially for the most popular ones. I have faith most festivals will refund you if it either goes Pete Tong, or Pete Tong is booked to DJ, or else ask to retain your ticket for another year, because they organise festivals, and festivals are all about openness and sharing. Booking agents on the other hand, might be another story.

Personally, I’ve done gone got the festival t-shirt many moons ago, and the jester’s hat too, come to think about it; I can bide my time from power-napping in a spinning canvas pyramid, paying over the odds for a baggie of basil, and sliding headlong into a ditch of piss. For many though, particularly younger generations, festivals are essential, and vital, for their wonderful feeling of togetherness. For the music industry it’s crucial to maintain this notion; ignore my aged rant, there is no ditch of piss, not really, not in this clean-cut era!

Let’s run through the locally based choicest ones, which sound too good to miss… but remember to check the individual planned conditions of entry, some will ask you to provide evidence of licensed vaccination or negative PCR test within the previous 48 hour period.

June


11th – 13th: Kite Festival

Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire

Born from a Kickstarter campaign in January 2020, but cancelled for the obvious reasons, it’s this festival’s maiden voyage this year. KITE aims to combine incredible music and breakthrough ideas in a unique programme of live performances and interactive discussions. “We wanted to bring together contemporary and legendary performers, thinkers, writers and public figures from the world of music, politics, business, technology and the arts and give you the opportunity to engage with the people who are influencing the way we live.”

Cultural icon Grace Jones, multi-Grammy-Award winning jazz singer Gregory Porter and gospel legend Mavis Staples were set to lead the music programme for the original date last year, we wait in anticipation to hear the line-up now, as Kite announce they’re working on their 2021 programme. Sign up for their newsletter for updates.


18th-20th: Bigfoot Festival

Ragely Hall, Warwickshire

Another first outing cancelled last year sees its debut this June. Just the map is enticing enough, with a boating lake and woodland and all that stuff. Local breweries and bands, who share the stages with a great line up, including Primal Scream, Fat White Family, Hot Chip Megamix, Maribou State (DJ) Baxter Dury and Dinosaur Pile-Up. There’s also an intersting wellbeing programme with hip hop yoga, boxercise, Let’s Talk About Sex Meditation & Mindfulness, and biscuits & burpees; I’ll just have the biscuits, thank you! Find Bigfoot here.


July


2nd – 4th: Minety Music Festival

Hornbury Hill, Malmesbury

Fourth outing for this popular do. A community non-profit triple day extravaganza, run entirely by volunteers which raised funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and local schools and charities last year. Guaranteed excellent music, a great, wide range of food and a well-stocked house Bar, Gin & Prosecco Bar and Cocktail Tiki Bar! There will also be a range of FREE activities in the Kidzone, including rock climbing wall, rock climbing digi-wall, an inflatable slide and assault course, bouncy castles, circus skills workshops and kids craft workshops, plus many more activities.

Line-up includes, Dr & The Medics, Space, Jesus Jones, Dreadzone, Crikey Minogue & Six Packs, a Ministry of Samba workshop, and a great local roster of Devizine favourites The Tribe, Talk In Code, The Dirty Smooth, A’La-Ska, Navajo Dogs, Sloe Train and Plucking Different. This is going to be a brilliant one, make sure there’s room in your backpack to sneak me in! Info Here.

Should get you in the mood…..

8th-10th: 2000trees Festival

Withington, Cheltenham

A largely rock and indie festival, 2000trees has a good reputation and won awards. This year sees Jimmy Eat World headline, with Thrice, Creeper, The Amazons, Dinosaur Pile-Up, The Menzingers, The Get Up Kids and many more to make me feel old!  Tickets & info Here.

9th-11th: – Cornbury Festival

Great Tew, Oxfordshire

Still in the planning stages, this ever-growing festival in the most beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswold location think it’s enough just to announce on headline act, yeah, but it is Bryan Adams; show offs! Should be good though. Info here.


22nd-25th Womad (?)

Charlton Park, Malmesbury

Still hopeful, Womad are holding off announcing acts, but you know, I know, we all know it’ll be the crème de la crème of world music on our doorstep, if all goes well, they’ve secured the date and tickets are here.


31st Mfor 2021

Lydiard Park, Swindon

A family orientated, affordable, one day pop-tastic festival I’ve only heard good things about, could be just the thing to introduce kids to festivals. And with Craig David, Rudimental, Ella Henderson, Phats & Small, Mark Hill (Original Artful Dodger), Lindy Layton on the line-up, it’s easy to see how this party is going to go down. I believe local acts will also be on agenda, certain our friends Talk in Code feature. There’s even an over 18 Friday night special additional event, with Five, S Club, Liberty X, Baby and Rozalla; everybody is freeeee, to feeeel gooood, apparently. Info & Tickets.


August


5th-8th: Wickham Festival

Fareham, Hampshire

New one on me this, but The Wickham Festival is an annual four-dayer of music and arts. Boasting three stages, and rated as one of the safest, most relaxed and family-friendly festivals in the UK, Wickham was voted ‘Best UK Festival, cap. under 15000’ at the Live UK Music Business Awards in October 2015; so, they know their stuff; I mean, they’ve got Van the man, and The Waterboys. Note also, Devizine favs, Beans on Toast, Gaz Brookfield, Tankus the Henge along with Nick Parker on the agenda; sweet! Tickets & Info Here.


6th: Love Summer Festival Devon: SOLD OUT.


7th- 8th: The Bath Festival Finale Weekend

And what a finale it is, Saturday; McFly, Scouting For Girls, Orla Gartland, Lauren Hibberd, George Pelham, Josh Gray, Novacub, Dessie Magee and Luna Lake. Sunday; UB40 featuring Ali Campbell & Astro, Billy Ocean, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Seth Lakeman, Bloco B, Hannah Grace, Casey Lowry, Port Erin Life, and Life In Mono, with more to be announced… Tickets HERE.


21st: Mantonfest

Manton, Marlborough

Any closer than this and it’ll be in your back garden! But that’s not the sole reason to grab a ticket for MantonFest! Just thirty notes for adults, a tenner for teenagers, and a fiver for kids, but that’s not the only other reason. Reports on this family, broad ranging charity fundraising annual do has never been negative, and we’re glad to hear it’s back for 2021. Number one Blondie tribute Dirty Harry headline, along with Dr. Feelgood, Ex-Men (five members of original 60’s bands), Barrelhouse, Jo Martin with his band, Devizine favs Richard Davies and The Dissidents, Josie and the Outlaw and homegrown Skeddadle. We previewed it last year before shit hit the fan; tickets bought in 2020 are valid for 2021. Mantonfest say, “we may have to introduce some anti-covid restrictions. These will be announced nearer the time and will be in line with the latest developments and best practice;” let’s hope this goes off this time. Tickets & Info here.


21st: Live at Lydiard

Lydiard Park, Swindon

Anne‐Marie, Sean Kingston, Roman Kemp [DJ set] Artful Dodger, Chaney, Fabian Darcy on the line-up over four stages for this day festival at Lydiard, with a dance tent, boutique cocktail bar and food court. Info & Tickets here.


21st: Bath Reggae Festival

Now pushed back to August bank holiday, this is the maiden voyage for the Bath Reggae Festival, and we bless them with the best of luck. With a line-up this supreme though, I’d imagine it’ll sell itself. Legends Maxi Priest, Aswad, Big Mountain, Dawn Penn, and The Slits solo extraordinaire Hollie Cook, Laid Back and lovers rocker Wayne Wonder, this is a must for reggae fans. Tickets & info here.


September


4th-5th: Concert at the Kings

All Cannings, Devizes

For locals little more can be said about how awesome this ground-breaking festival raising staggering funds for cancer research is. Since 2012 it has bought international headline acts to the sleepy village outside Devizes; legendary fables and the fondest memories have been had there. No difference this time around, save for some social distancing. Billy Ocean, 10CC, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Sweet, Strawbs, Lindisfarne and Devizine favs Talk in Code, with more to be announced; twist your arm anymore, sir? No; no need to! Tickets & Info here.


9th-12th: Swindon Shuffle

Venues across Swindon

A later date for this annual extravaganza of local live music, spread across Swindon’s premiere venues and hugely supportive of original homegrown talent, this is weekend to head for the railway town. Since 2007 the Shuffle raises funds for MIND, and is largely free to attend. Ah, there’s plenty time to arrange a line-up, which is underway, but you can guarantee a truckload of our local favourites will be there, somewhere! Info.


10th-12th: Vintage Nostalgia Festival

Stockton Park, Near Warminster

The mature place to glamp this summer if you want to get retro; classic cars is the concentrate, but there’s no shortage of great bands from rockabilly, doo-wop, blues to mod skiffle, boogie woogie jazz and beyond. Sarah Mai Rhythm & Blues Band, “Great Scott,” Shana Mai and the Mayhems, The Bandits, Junco Shakers,The Flaming Feathers, The Harlem Rhythm Cats, Little Dave & The Sunshine Sessions, The Rough Cut Rebels, Riley K, The Ukey D’ukes and loads more. Info & Tickets Here.


You know, this one could be for me, rather than trying to look youthful clutching onto a marquee pole for dear life while a hoard of sugared-up teeny-boppers check Instagram amidst a soundtrack of dubstep! But look, I reckon there’s something for everyone here, but if I did miss yours, let me know, for a squashy cup of cider at the festie bar, I must just add your do here too!


Trending….

Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May

But we geographically go so much further these days, even if not physically much more than taking the bins out. Outside our sphere we covered Essex’s Mr B & The Wolf, Limerick’s Emma Langford, London’s Gecko, and from the US, Shuffle & Bang, and Jim White. Johnny Lloyd, Skates & Wagons, My Darling Clementine, Micko and the Mellotronics, Typhoidmary, Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass, Mango Thomas, Beans on Toast, Tankus the Henge; long may the list continue.

Bombino though, the tuareggae artist really impressed me, but I don’t like to pick a favourite, rather to push us onto another angle. I began reviewing stuff sent via my Boot Boy radio show, and covered a ska scene blossoming in South America. But as well as Neville Staple Band’s single Lockdown, The Bighead, the Bionic Rats, and Hugo Lobo teaming up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas, we found reggae in Switzerland through Fruits Records, the awesome Cosmic Shuffling and progressive 808 Delavega.

So much music, is it going on a bit? Okay I’ll change the record, if you pardon the pun, but not until I’ve mentioned The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, naturally, Sound Affects’ album Ley Lines, Tunnel Rat refurbing their studio, and Bristol’s freshest new hip hop act The Scribes. Ah, pause for breath.

Oh, and outside too, we did get a breather from lockdown and tiers, all Jamies for me, Mr R Hawkins was my first outing at the Gate and followed by Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective. Sad to have missed Two Man Ting and when The Big Yellow Bus Rocked the Gazebo, but hey, I thought we were out of the deep water.

June