Weekend Roundup: 30th June – 3rd July 2022

Full throttle into July, then; here’s what the weekend looks like around these parts. These parts of cultural void, so it’s claimed, we say otherwise…. You want proof?

As usual no links here, the only link you need is here, our event calendar. Have a great weekend whatever you do!

Ongoing from Wednesday until Sunday the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon has got Shrek the Musical. Thursday and Friday, Devizes Musical Theatre presents their Summer Concert, Miss Fortunes at The Wharf Theatre, see the poster, always see the posters!

I’m delighted to hear Devizes LGBTQ+ group’s first big event, Drag Bingo at the Exchange has sold out on Thursday 30th; well done to them and here’s hoping for some similar events in Devizes in the future.

One of folk music’s greatest innovators, Martin Carthy is at Trowbridge Town Hall Thursday, Paul Jones Live in Concert at Christ Church, Swindon while Swindon Arts Centre has a play called Blithe Spirit, running until Sunday.

Friday is pinch punch. Chippenham Comedy Festival at The Old Road Tavern, starts, running all weekend. Limited Weekend Tickets £60, individual shows are all £7 each. Friday 1st July: 7pm Sam Michael & John Matthews: Cister Act, 8.30pm Juliette Meyers: Passport Face,10pm James Dowdeswell: Beers of a Clown. Saturday 2nd July: 5pm Jo Caulfield: Here Comes Trouble, 6.30pm Sooz Kempner: Playstation, 7.45pm Katie Mitchell: She Festers, 9pm Andrew O’Neill: We Are Not In The Least Afraid Of Ruins; We Carry A New World In Our Hearts, 10.15pm Wil Hodgson: Barbicidal Tendencies. Sunday 3rd July: 5.30pm Jessie Nixon, Dannie Johns & Millie Haswell: Dumb Belles,7pm Joe Wells: I am Autistic, 8.30pm Beth Black.

Devizes School Summer School Concert in the main hall. Minety Festival kicks off for the weekend. Melksham’s One Love reggae night has been moved from the Assembly Hall to Spencer’s Club on Beanacre Road, I just haven’t changed the poster, so forget all I said about paying attention to the posters!!

The Ukey Dukes play The New Inn, Winterbourne Monkton. Ska punkers head to The Barge at Honeystreet, for Slageri J headline there, and surfers should wipe-out at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, where they’ll find the highly recommended Palooka 5. Rorke’s Drift play The Vic, Swindon, and fresh(ish) from Glasto, Jo Whiley plays 90s Anthems at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 2nd, Longleat continues showing off; those who don’t mind standing for hours, with a bottomless wallet and advance planning can see Tears for Fears, the rest of us are not left without options…. like Salisbury Pride at Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

Arts Together fundraise with a day painting at Bowood, see the poster for real this time!

Six O’clock Circus headline The Vale of the White Horse Scooter Rally at The Cooper’s Arms, Pewsey. While there’s a reggae day at The Wheatsheaf, Calne; the Bee Skas play at 3pm!

The Seven Stars in Bottlesford has a Burger BBQ for twenty quid, but you do get The Reason playing.

The amazing Jack Grace is at Southgate, and popular covers band Paradox are down the Cellar Bar in Devizes; yes, I did say The Cellar Bar, glad to see this venue back on our listings.

Band X at the Three Horseshoes Bradford-on-Avon, Siren at the 12 Bells, Trowbridge, with Hatepenny rocking the Town Hall. @Fest mini-festival at the White Hart in Attsworth. Down & Dirty at The Vic, Swindon.

Swindon’s Midlife Krisis sound system was due to setup at The Barge at HoneyStreet, however, due to issues with their secondary camping field it is unfortunately cancelled. We wish the Barge all the best with this issue, and hope it can be resolved as soon as possible.

Sunday 3rd July is DOCA’s Picnic at Hillworth Park. British Blues with Trevor Babajack Steger from 12pm, from 1pm, find some jazz-tinged klezmer and old-world Yiddish folk, from Mozzle Brocha, branch of the collective, Chai for All, who we tried to get to play a Ukraine fundraiser at St Mary’s, but it unfortunately fell through. It will be good to meet you, guys.   

Eastern European folk traditions follow that with East of Eden at 2:40, South African at 4pm with Otto & The Mutapa Calling, finishing off your Sunday entertainment. Also look out for Rose Popay, the “Art Tart,” sounds hilarious, and various carnival workshops, suitable for all ages; see the DOCA website.

Elsewhere, People Like Us headline free live music for Inspire Warminster, preview here. The Cosmic Sausages play The Bell, Bath, The Lost Hills play The Tap & Barrel, Swindon. Blues legend Andy Fairweather Low plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome, with Ruzz Guitar in support, and oh, it’s Aldbourne Doggy Day!

That’s your weekend wrapped up, unless I missed anything? Did you let us know? It’s not too late, I can edit our event calendar, if you’re nice and send cake!


Through the week you can catch a Live Art Demonstration by the wonderful Caroline le Bourgeois at Devizes Conservative Club on Monday 4th, meanwhile David Olusoga presents A House Through Time at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Tuesday sees carparks in Devizes closed for the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay; for a whole half-hour! Heaven help us! Keyboard warriors, I’d advise you walk or bus it into town to get your garibaldi biscuits!

The New Forest Folk Festival starts Wednesday, while there’s a bit of Shakey at Bath’s Rondo Theatre, Macbeth; all proceeds go to Marie Curie. Best of luck to the two Devizes actors appearing in this, Lucy Upward and Ian Diddams; break a leg!

Next weekend you need tickets for a fundraising concert for Devizes GAC’s chosen charity, Julia’s House Children’s Hospice, at Devizes School Hall, on Friday July 8th at 7.30pm. Special guests at the concert will be the Pewsey Belles Ladies Choir. Tickets are priced £8 and available from 01761 472468.

Both Readipop Festival and Cornbury Festival, next weekend, and of course, Devizes Carnival and Trowbridge’s ParkFest, both on the Saturday 9th. I believe I’ll be painting the whole village purple at Bishop’s Cannings mini festival at The Crown; please come and support this too. And on Sunday, give our Essex country-rocker favourites, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective a warm Devizes welcome at the Southgate.

And if you’ve read this far I salute you; people like you who pay attention really need to grab up tickets to the Full-Tone Festival August Bank Holiday, AND Devizes Scooter Rally, AND Devizes Beer Festival too!


Trending…..

Female of the Species Back For Halloween

The annual all-female local supergroup get-together is annouced for the Halloween weekend, at a new venue, Seend Community Centre.

Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Claire Perry from Big Mamma & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, form the Civic Award-winning supergroup The Female of the Species. I’ll let you in on a secret if you’ve not been to one of their six annual gigs, it’s a party not to be missed.

Halloween costumes optional, but you can guarantee the girls will be dressed up for their annual fundraising extravaganza.

Last year’s event raised a staggering £1,763 for the Therapy Fund of Devizine’s other superheroine, Carmela Chillery-Watson. This time around the girls said, “it’s so difficult to choose from all the incredible charities that apply to us every year, but this year, with the way mental health has been such a huge topic, particularly amongst our younger generations, we have gone with TeenTalk.”

TeenTalk is the early help and support service, run by Young Melksham. TeenTalk’s mission is to reduce and relieve the suffering and distress, and to improve the emotional wellbeing, of young people and their families throughout North and West Wiltshire.

The date for this seventh spectacular is set for Saturday 29th October 2022, now moved to Seend Community Centre, famous for their epic beer festivals.There will be a support act, yet to be confirmed, but doors open at 7pm for drinks, and Female of the Species take to the stage at 8:30pm. Get your tickets here.


Helping Ukraine in Wiltshire

Coordinating an event in Devizes fundraising for the Ukraine has fallen wayside at the moment, I need a rethink. Meanwhile there’s lots of ways to help in Wiltshire and I thought I’d see if we can’t amalgamate them into one article….

Wiltshire Council has provided some FAQs on all aspects of fundraising, donating and housing refuges HERE, I’ve been in search for others.

Starter for ten, there’s some fundraising events coming up, starting tomorrow Tuesday 29th, at Downton Social Club, Salisbury, who have a big band concert, free with donations, just turn up after 7:30pm.

Wednesday 30th with a Community Supper at Devizes Corn Exchange, organised by Devizes Food & Drink Festival, details HERE, and Saturday sees punky rock covers bands Stone’s Throw and Izzy Barsby appear at Market Lavington Community Hall, tickets are £6, HERE.

Phoenix Brass have a concert for Ukraine at Marlborough Town Hall on Sunday 10th April, ticket info on the poster below.

If there’s one band in the UK most apt for a Ukraine fundraiser it’s the incredible lively and traditional folk-punk of The Ukrainians; I’ve seen them many years ago at the Endorset in Dorset Festival and they were unforgettable. Obviously originating from Ukraine they’re based in the north of England and have been working tirelessly raising £13,000 to-date, donating to Association of Ukrainians in GB and DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and have also committed to pay the travel expenses of two transit vans taking locally donated medical supplies to Lviv hospital. They play Salisbury Arts Centre on Saturday 23rd April with Pronghorn, Lump and Gypsy Jukebox. Tickets vary from £15 upwards, pay what you can.

Frome’s Cheese and Grain presents a Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal Event on Saturday April 30th with The Back Wood Redeemers, Mighty One, Back Of The Bus, Henry Wacey and DJ Patmandu, with all proceeds donated to the fantastic Frome Town Council’s twin town Ukrainian refugee appeal. £10 in advance HERE.

Over Easter half-term, 11th-14th April, and again from 19th-22nd, Trowbridge Town Hall has some Workshops in aid of Humanitarian Aid Centre. There are badges, flag making and sunflower sowing at £1-3, kids arts open competitions for ages 5-18yrs, and a prize raffle. There’s also an online auction of local and Ukrainian artists, with a live preview of work on 23rd April from 10am -4pm in the Old Court at the Town Hall. Details HERE.

Warminster has two Concerts for Ukraine at the Athenaeum Centre, on Fri 22nd and Sat 23rd April. All tickets are £10 HERE. Warminster Military Wives Choir, Bonner & Blake, The Echobirds, Hilary Pavey and Andrew Bazeley perform.

I’m sure there’s more yet to discover, everywhere you look there’s churches collecting donated clothes and food, there’s schools holding cake stalls, and so many other amazing efforts. If you know of some worthy to add here, please do let us know.

The response to this crisis has been overwhelming in Wiltshire. Like Wroughton businessman Cliff Barry who raised more than £20,000, bought a van and left last Thursday to deliver donations to the border. But so many others have rallied to the cause, donating or even opening their homes to refuges, it’s incredible!

WILTSHIRE for UKRAINE

Trying to find the best avenue to donate should our gig have happened, I joined a Facebook group, Wiltshire for Ukraine, assuming it was just a place to post fundraising efforts, folk looking to house refugees and visa-versa, and other general news on the theme. But I was surprised to hear Wiltshire for Ukraine is all these things and so much more. I spoke to admin Magdalena, direct from Poland, where her group are visiting charities and places dealing with help for refugees.

She was keen to point out, raising funds for smaller community groups is more effective now. They bridge the gap between big charities and its users. “Of course,” she explained, “big charities are super important and professionally help all in need. In a crisis like war help is needed immediately and funds collected by groups can immediately collect and give money to those most needed. At Wiltshire for Ukraine we collect money to help refugees who fled with nothing. We give them money directly and help them have a new start in foreign countries.”

To donate to WILTSHIRE for UKRAINE find their go-fund-me page HERE, and their Facebook group has so much more info of people going that extra mile, ideas on ways you can get involved, and information for those taking in refugees. Such as Salisbury’s Valeriy, raising £10,000 for personalised help to the children and their families inside of Ukraine who have no possibility to leave the war zone. Their GoFundMe is HERE

Another Marlborough based Facebook group called Ukrainians and their Sponsors in Marlborough and surrounding area is helping link Ukrainians needing homes with sponsors and is giving Marlborough residents a place to offer practical advice once they’re here. Find the group HERE.

There is so many amazing people locally, doing whatever they can, I am sorry if I missed you and yours, the beauty of the online blog though, this can be updated if you send me details!


Trending…..

Rock n Roll Lives; in Melksham!

Found myself in the Sham last night, hail hailing rock n roll at the Assembly Hall, something I’ve been meaning to witness for ages; and I’m pleased to report, they do it with bells on……

Passing through Swindon’s GWR works prior to the Steam Museum, I perchance to natter to an aged engineer prepping a locomotive for display. He frustrated his vocation was fading, and with no apprenticeship, the knowledge would be a lost trade. Art is different from a trade; it lives beyond the creators’ years naturally; it is only hope it inspires enough to attract devotees from future generations.

Creative types rarely contemplate this, tending to live for the moment. Rock n Roll was perhaps the first youth culture to transcend social and political barriers into mainstream. Generations of segregation had worn-out the connection of railroad slaves, mimicking four-beat folk of their masters, and white youths of the 1950s reunited it by blending blues into country, much to the outrage of traditionists. But would those early, wide-eyed rock n rollers have stopped to consider seventy years later their voices would still be ringing out, their fashion would be epitomised and their dances displayed with such enthusiasm, in a market town hall in South-West England?!

Geoff and his wife proudly sit on the door of the Melksham Assembly Hall and welcome me. They have been the backbone of The Melksham Rock N Roll Club since its formation, twenty years ago. Recently two clubs opened in Bristol, he expressed, but prior he’s had free reign of the niche market for a few years. Coupled with winter’s chill and the resistance to head back out post-lockdown, he shrugs, unruffled attendance is slightly down. I pulled up a chair for a chat of all things Buddy Holly to Shakin’ Stevens, then popped inside to see for myself.

Despite his reservations and taking into account the hall is wonderfully spacious, it feels suitably packed in there, if this is an evening of lesser ticket sales it certainly doesn’t show. Devotees of rock n roll have come from afar to attend; Geoff cites members trek from Bristol, and even as far as Essex.

The closest we have here in the ‘Vizes is the Long Street Blues Club, which while spectacular can be a library-like appreciation society; I was shushed in there while thanking Ian for inviting me! Here appreciation is displayed rather differently, events aptly referred to as “dances,” while hold factors akin to many clubs, a live band, DJ and a raffle, the most astounding part was the dancing. There was no way I dare step onto that dancefloor to be showed up, as matured and authentically attired regulars would put upcoming generations to shame with their astounding moves! Trade in your gym membership, come here instead for a rock n roll workout!

With poodle skirts whirling around refined gents in double-breasted Chesterfields and winklepickers, it’s an impressive spectacle. I was interested to observe the age demographic, concerned, like the steam engineer, for his disappearing trade. I’d spoken to Geoff about diversity, for what is considered “rock n roll” is altered by later age-groups, through Zeppelin to punk. But acceptance of progression felt like a no-go zone; this was traditional, fifties fashioned rock n roll, like it or lump it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the band, hailing from various locations from Hungerford to the Cotswolds, this five-piece ensemble called Haney’s Big House had the classic arrangement; bona-fide frontman on lead, bassist, drummer, harmonica and an outstanding upright double-bass player. It proficiently spelled rock n roll to me, they played their own awesome compositions, and relished in covering Bill Haley and Chuck Berry, to name a few. Yet conversing outside, nick-picking gossip circulated it was too blues, whilst others suggested too rockabilly.

True, but the band don’t hide this blues influence on their own website, and inside the crowd danced on seemingly unconcerned. I huffed at a minority of grouches, they revelled in nights of yore through rose-tinted specs, when unfortunately, that era has passed. Haney’s Big House made for an excellent evening, seemed to love the spotlight and were a perfect match for a rock n roll club.

Akin to the contemporary scooter scene, subgenres have to merge back into one another in hope of survival, as Northern Soul mods meet ska-led skinheads, so rockabilly, RnB and blues should be accepted as fair game by fundamentalist rock n rollers, otherwise the scene risks fragmentation over time.

A heartfelt concern, because I’m with Joan Jett, loving rock n roll, put it every time on the jukebox baby; I grew up listening to Elvis, Buddy et al, via parents. There’s nothing like the authenticity of original rock n roll, with an epoch to match, The Melksham Rock N Roll Club is an institution upholding this ethos and they do so with matchless effort.

It was a brilliant evening of beguiling retrospection and long may it continue for another twenty years plus. My demographic observations came up trumps, while a palpable majority were retirement age diehards, a sprinkling was younger, equally excited about the scene. Though that number has to be upped, so I urge anyone affectionate of old timey rock n roll, try this affordable club for size; it’s reelin’ and a rockin’ to the point age is just a number, folk of all ages twirling the night away; absolutely wonderful!

Next dance is Saturday 26th February with Jive Street….

Stay updated via their Facebook page.


Check out other forthcoming events at Melksham Assembly Hall Here, from Abba and Carpenters tributes to Madness and Led Zeppelin…and erm, “ladies” nights!


Trending……

The Devizine Online Local Yuletide Market

If you’re like me and leave shopping to the last-minute Christmas eve frenzied dash like a headless turkey, or even if you’re arranging next year’s already, here’s some local Christmas gifts and ideas, which will build up, I hope, to a virtual Christmas market, a warm winter wonderland!

Surfing through the Net, with a one-maned open search engine, over Facebook we go, laughing all the way! Hey, crafty crafters, cheeky chefs and any other local creative types, I haven’t got a naughty or nice list, so don’t make me hunt you down. I know you’re busy, but it takes a second or three, and costs nought, to message us at Devizine and get your Christmassy products and ideas listed here, on our online local Yuletide market.

So, do bookmark this page and drop back in regularly, as it will be updated.

And for those who prefer the physical, there’s a list of Christmas Craft Markets at the bottom of this list, just keep on scrollin’!

Real Christmas Trees in Devizes

Back at the Bell on the Green this year from the 26th November, as it has been for 23 years, real Christmas trees will be for sale. You can pre order your trees for click and collect or delivery at www.merryChristmastrees.co.uk

AbraKadabra

AbraKadabra make these wonderful handmade magic seed-bombs, always popular at Christmas! Contact them via Facebook or Esty, and if you are in Devizes, put the discount code DEVIZES at checkout and you’ll get free postage!

Alan Watters

Rowde artist Alan Watters has limited edition signed and mounted prints of his recent drawing of a highland cow, and gives some of the proceeds to charity. This picture is also a signed cow greetings card with each print and posting worldwide. Have a look at https://alansfineart.com if interested. Cost is just £30 with delivery included.

Arthe

From the creators of Devizes-own artistic, hectic, eclectic, chaotic, linguistic, poetic, bombastic, fantastic, and perhaps a little anarchistic, kawaii bear, Arthe, there’s some groovy greeting cards and gifts on their website, tote bags, mugs, tees, etc; check it out funk soul bears.

Andy Fawthrop

Whilst some people might have spent their Lockdown baking banana bread or stockpiling toilet rolls, our very own roving reporter, Andy was hard at it, writing short stories. These have now been published in three volumes. There’s 49 new stories in all, featuring the usual gentle topics of murder, blackmail, mistaken identity, revenge, infidelity, piracy, robbery and…oh…well, anyway, they’re jolly entertaining, and by turns spooky, bizarre or comic. You can buy them direct from Andy for a tenner each, or order them through the wonderful Jo at Devizes Books, or even buy them from Amazon (paperbacks £10, Kindle downloads £3). “They would obviously make ideal Christmas presents,” Andy says, “particularly for that special person that you don’t like very much.” I’ve read his “stuff” and beg to differ.

Beeze’s

Easy choice, you just know Beeze’s in Devizes’ Ginnel are going to have some great ideas for Christmas gifts; they’ve got a whole Christmas Collection, not to mention Little Beeze’s toys next door. Chocolate message bars? Say no more!

Website Facebook

Blossom Hill Cards

Devizes-based Blossom Hill Cards has five Christmas wonderful card designs, with all proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Society. You can buy them HERE.

Cositas Bonitas

The brilliant shareware craft shop in Sidmouth Street Devizes, Cositas Bonitas is a must stop off on your Christmas shop, you will be spoiled for choice. Check out Facebook, to see what I mean!

The Little Eco Shop, Devizes

I’m so glad to hear the Little Eco Shop is back. Go there for zero waste Christmas Eco wrapping essentials. Recycled craft wrapping paper in brown, green and red. Compostable brown paper tape. Christmas patterned brown paper tape (perfect for jazzing up the paper) Natural twine. Coloured twine made from recycled plastic. Paper bows. Craft card tags. Make your own elf Christmas crackers.

Little Eco Shop is off Couch Lane, Devizes: Website. Facebook

My Happy Place

Such a lovely name for this Devizes-based small decoupage business; so it’s mainly bottles and jars, with lights or wooden hearts hanging plaques, but owner Cassie tells me, “pretty much anything I can get my hands on that will work!” Join her Facebook group for more details.

Caroline Le Bourgeois

If you’re lucky to find this amazing wildlife artist at the Shambles, or many local fairs and markets, her cute pictures would make a perfect wall hanging gift, or greetings cards. If not, her website is here.

Dollies Dimples

Devizes-based Dollies Dimples makes these charming secret pocket tins with personalisation, visit their Etsy shop here.

The Healthy Life Company

From Green and Blacks, Montezuma, Moo Free and Clipper tea advent calendars to Vaughn’s Kitchen Christmas Cake Packs, the Healthy Life in Devizes’ Little Brittox is more than muesli. With a reduced carbon footprint focus, they have a pop-up gift shop each year, with those gifts that you won’t find elsewhere on the high street. For a healthy, planet-friendly Christmas, visit The Healthy Life, or on Facebook.

FM by Gem

Perfume, the ideal gift; Gemma is your local FM rep with everything from real discounted perfumes, to home fragrances, makeup and even cleaning products. You will need to join this Facebook group to find out more.

Shaz’s Chutneys and Pickles!

Shaz’s homemade chutneys, pickles and hampers are up for grabs from the Southgate, Devizes. With a 5 star Food Hygiene Rating, they do look tasty!

The Devizine Compilation Album, of Course!

If you’re not fussed about unwrapping gifts, I could shamelessly plug our Devizine compilation album. It can’t be on CD, because it’s far too mahoosive, it would need approximately 6 discs to cram onto, ergo you can download it, and your money goes to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices. And on it you’ll find the very best of what local music has to offer, I pinky promise you that much!

Download it HERE

White Chalk Gallery

Newly opened in Devizes, The White Chalk Gallery would be the perfect stopping place on any Christmas shop, there’s handmade jewellery and sculptured pots as well as art, and will you just look at these two needle felted cutties made from pure wool by Jo Lilley @miceandmole. Find the White Chalk Gallery in Devizes Market Place, or website here.

Simon Folkard Photography

Amazing photographer Simon Folkard has a range of Devizes themed Christmas cards, as well as his celebrated calendars. He will be at the Corn Exchange’s Christmas fayre on Saturday 15th November, look him up or contact him via Facebook.

The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen

The way to a man’s heart this festive season I can tell you, for I’m dreaming of a brownie Christmas, and no one, I repeat, no one makes a brownie as good as The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen. Currently based at Poulshot Farm Lodge, plans are afoot for a new shop, but while it looks like Devizes, it’s all top secret at the moment, so keep in the loop via Facebook, and visit their website! UPDATE: it’ll be on Maryport Street; yay!

Kit Tags

Personalise your kit bags with combat proof tags, here!

Will Do Studio

On a Bauble or hanging decoration, personalisation is trending, Westbury’s Will Do Studio have personalised Christmas ornaments. Write your wishes on the bauble and give it to the person who is important to you. Add any text and make this souvenir on the Christmas tree.

Website Facebook

The Bird, The Book & The Barrel

I could recommend a billion albums, but this debut from our brilliant The Lost Trades would be my pickermost for the yule season, it’s just sooo nice! And yes, they have this on CD, so you can gift-wrap it! Buy it here.

Hannah Cantellow Studio

From Poulshot’s to Lockeridge’s village halls, Hannah runs linocut Christmas card workshops, a great way to create multiple cards yourself. You’ll be able to make and handprint a set of 10 Christmas cards and a carved block to take away with you, which you’ll be able to print again and again. All materials, tools, design templates and refreshments are provided (however, you’re welcome to bring your own design if you prefer.) Check the website for dates and booking.

Wix n Scents

Based at Castle Combe, who wouldn’t want a pug or boxer fart scented candle, I ask you? Other scents are available! Check them out here.


Christmas Shopping in Devizes

Our friends at InDevizes has created this map of all the independent shops around Devizes, for refence when out there shopping, and the cafes too, naturally!

Christmas Markets

Coming over all Oliva Newton John? Prefer the physical? Yeah, for shopaholics there’s nothing like trampling around a craft market this time of year, so I’ve also included a list of known Christmas craft fayres locally. If I missed yours, my gift to you is I can add it, which is not quite as good as socks or a Lynx deodorant set, but c’est la vie.

Deck The Halls @ Devizes Corn Exchange: 12th & 13th Nov.

Forest Friends Online Christmas Fayre: 15th-21st Nov.

Festive Shopping Night @ Bratton Jubilee Hall. 7-9pm. 18th Nov.

Wootton Rivers Village Hall: 20th Nov.

Westbury United FC: 20th Nov.

Shop Small Swindon Artisan Market @ The Hop Inn: 21st Nov.

Devizes Winter Festival: 26th Nov.

Christmas Market Night @ Abbey Meads School, Swindon. 5:30-8:30pm 26th Nov.

Charity Craft Fair in aid of St Joseph’s Nursey @ Devizes Conservative Club: Nov 27th, 10am-12.

Wadworth Christmas Fair: 27th Nov, 10am-4pm.

The Lamb Inn, Urchfont: 27th Nov.

Shield & Dagger Christmas Market, Swindon: 27th Nov.

Christmas Charity Fair @ The Cheese & Grain, Frome: 27th Nov.

Chippenham Festival of Christmas: 28th Nov.

Bishops Cannings School Christmas Fayre: 4th Dec.

Christmas Extravaganza @ St Johns Church, Devizes: 4th Dec.

Biddestone Christmas Fayre: 4th Dec.

Christmas Fayre at Ridgeway School, Wroughton: 4th December.

Codford Christmas Artisan Market: 4th Dec.

Mamma Events Christmas Market @ Mecca, Swindon: 11am-3pm. 5th Dec.

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Devizes: 10th Dec

Christmas Fair at the Churchill Arms, West Lavington. Saturday 11th Dec.

Christmas Craft Fair @ Warminster Park Community Centre: 11am-3pm 11th Dec.

Christmas Nativity @ White Hart Attworth


Print me out and colour me in!

Oh, and send me them via our Facebook page, with your name and age, and we’ll decide winners in December. If anyone of the lovely businesses we’ve helped by plugging their wares could offer a prize, do let me know!!


Trending….

How Common is “Spiking” in Wiltshire?

We’re talking with Wiltshire Police about spiking in the area, how common it is, how to best prevent being a victim of it, and what to do if you suspect you’ve been “spiked.”

There’s been a truckload of media coverage of “spiking” nationally, with a notion towards a trend of using needles rather than the more common practises of topping up a drink or dropping a drug into a drink. If anything, it’s made me realise how totally out of touch I am with modern clubbing. While it may’ve been a while since I got my groove thang on, which I feel imperative to add I can still cut-a-rug as good as any twentysomething, clubbing was a religion in my younger years, and I retain, just about, fond memories of carefree dancing the night away; but you don’t want to hear about that!

Therefore, I’m saddened and literally sickened to hear stories in the press of youngsters who’d rather stay in than risk being spiked, and those who’ve been victims. So, I’ve called upon Wiltshire Police, to find out how common this appalling trend is in the county, what people can do to both prevent it, and what action they should take if they suspect they’ve been spiked.

Wiltshire Police told me, “This issue has caused a lot of interest recently and we are keen as a Force to make sure the story is being told correctly and the actual picture in Wiltshire is being shown.” Still, I’d like to think cases in our county are low, and figures for the past three years in Wiltshire, supplied by Wiltshire Police’s Business Intelligence Unit show while twelve incidents were reported in 2019, this was reduced to eight incidents in 2020, which I suppose lockdown had an effect, because unfortunately, this year another twelve incidents have been reported. Police are keen to point out, these figures include instances where spiking may be mentioned in the summary of the incident but may not later be confirmed, and they relate to drink spiking, not needle spiking.

Yet this leaves me pondering incidents which go unreported, and I’m alarmed to read the charity Talk To FRANK website suggesting “while the aim may be to incapacitate someone enough to rob or sexually assault them, sometimes it is just intended as a joke – a bad joke as it is very dangerous.”

Beggar’s belief someone would do this as a prank, and in turn, I must say, I’ve had trouble angling this article. Firstly, if you’re a regular reader you’ll be aware I attempt sprinkling humour into my words, but there’s nothing funny to this issue. Secondly, I originally thought I’d have something concrete to say to anyone considering spiking another person, but I changed my mind; I have nothing to say to you which you’d probably take heed of, and I could legally publish.

The concentration has to be on sending a message to potential victims, which could be anyone. I’d like to advise you not to let these nasty bastards spoil your fun, but at the same time I implore you to stay safe.

Watch your drink at all times, remain within a group of trusted friends, and if you believe you’ve been spiked, try not to panic, but find support from friends. I accept this is easier said than done, the drugs these idiots use can be seriously intoxicating, things are going to get wobbly, so much more than having too many drinks, which should act as the indicator something is amiss, especially if you’ve taken account of how much you’ve drunk.

You may question what’s happening, where you are, even who you are, commonly used drugs like ketamine and Rohypnol are seriously debilitating, so getting help urgently is paramount. Wiltshire Police say, “we would encourage anyone who believes they have been the victim of spiking or have witnessed it to contact us on 101. Any reports of spiking will be investigated and taken seriously.” Details of prevention on Wiltshire Police’s website can be found here, please read it.

FRANK gives tips to stay safe: Plan your night out, including your journey there and back. Make sure the venue you are going to is licensed – venues are required to take steps to ensure the safety of their customers. When going to a pub, club or party avoid going alone. Friends can look out for one another. Stay aware of what’s going on around you and keep away from situations you don’t feel comfortable with. Think very carefully about whether you should leave a pub, club or party with someone you’ve just met, and make sure your mobile phone has plenty of charge in it before you leave home and keep your mobile safe.

I’m pleased to read nightclubs like The Chapel in Salisbury and Tree Swindon freely distribute “bottle stoppers,” but contacting another two local nightclubs, I received no response when asking them what they’re doing to prevent such incidents. While I know it’s not an easy issue, I urge them to reconsider policies such as no glass on dancefloors, hoping they can provide a plastic alternative.   

Wiltshire Police have launched Project Vigilant, with operations being carried out on a frequent basis to proactively prevent violence and sexual offences. You can read more about Project Vigilant on the Wiltshire Police website. A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with licensed premises and our partners across the county through initiatives like Project Vigilant to ensure everything is being done to spot the signs of predatory behaviour.”

FRANK continues onto how to avoid drink spiking, suggesting always buy your own drink and watch it being poured. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Never leave your drink unattended while you dance or go to the toilet. Don’t drink or taste anyone else’s drink. Throw your drink away if you think it tastes odd.

There is also an initiative led by Wiltshire Council called Ask For Angela, which the Police supports. The scheme helps people who are on a date or who have met someone at a venue and feel unsafe get help from bar staff. Anyone who feels unsafe in such a situation can get help from bar staff by simply asking to speak to “Angela.”  Staff will then assist the person in leaving the venue discreetly and getting home or to a place of safety. This could mean taking the distressed person out of sight, calling for a taxi and making sure they get home okay or even asking the person causing distress to leave the venue if appropriate. Details about this are here.

To conclude, I’d just like to reaffirm my appeal you stay safe by taking heed of the advice, because although the media are focussing on needle spiking, spiking your drink is far more common and easier to execute. Prof Adam Winstock from the Global Drugs Survey says it would be difficult to inject someone with drugs in a night out situation, “needles have to be inserted with a level of care – and that’s when you’ve got the patient sitting in front of you with skin and no clothes. The idea these things can be randomly given through clothes in a club is just not that likely.” But not impossible, and dropping a pill into a drink, well, this is far simpler, so go out and have fun, but be aware, please.


Trending…..

Female of the Species Blow the Roof of The Assembly Hall, for Carmela

Entertainment events in the county blossoming out of lockdown came to a pinnacle this weekend. We were spoiled for choice, and without cloning technology the decision would’ve been a toughy for me, if it hadn’t had been for the no-brainer; the sixth annual outing of local supergroup, The Female of the Species at Melksham’s brilliant Assembly Hall.

From the moment I was pinged the lowdown on this event my heartstrings spasmed, five band’s fantastic frontwomen in their own right united for the rare, Community Civic award-winning, fundraising bonanza which has become somewhat equal in legend around these parts as a Spice Girls reunion. And perhaps what is more, the proceeds this year were directed at another personal superheroine, Carmela Chillery-Watson.

Super-heroic is a term I don’t use lightly, and not out of sympathy for Carmela’s rare strain of muscular dystrophy. Over the past two years I’ve followed the progress of Carmela and her family’s fight against this muscle-wasting condition, since mum, Lucy sent Devizine a fundraising event poster and I figured I could do more, which consequently saw me take to my milk-round dressed in my Spiderman onesie! For, now at seven years old, Carmela’s zest for life and amiable charisma is an inspiration to everyone she meets. I found it rubs off on you with immediate effect, something hordes of international celebrities have also now discovered.

Bringing this celebrity herself now back home to Wiltshire for a fundraising event, I was not only delighted to meet her and her family again, but mightily impressed with her handling of fame. Carmela responds accordingly to mounting attention, never excluding or shunning any individual yet finding the time to address them all equally; a skill many a celeb could learn from.  

With a bombardment of unfortunate planning episodes, Jools of the reggae-ska band Train to Skaville confessed, “it was a nightmare trying to get this event off the ground,” it truly became a sense of it’ll be alright on the night, and the party went off with an explosive boom. The amalgamated wealth of experience, proficiency and professionalism of The Female of the Species shone through; they are deadlier than the male.

Dedication too, to overcome obstacles, apexed by performer and musical director, Nicky Davis of bands People Like Us and the Reason, who took a fall during rehearsals to personify the performance idiom, break a leg. Frustrated by her vocal restrictions slouched at the keyboard, the second half of the show proved too tempting, and Nicky manged to make it onto her feet to sing behind the keys, rather more like Jerry Lee Lewis than Elton John in style!

But we are getting ahead of ourselves now, for full credits have to be awarded to support act, Melksham-based Plan of Action. Unbeknown to me, this male trio with a female bassist took me by surprise. Based on previous FOTS supports, I was expecting soothing acoustics, yet Plan of Action done what it suggested on the tin, and executed said plan in a hard rock fashion akin to the Foo-Fighters covers they blasted with certain precision. They then beseeched their benchmark, rather than redefined their style, to cover Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally in hard-edged blues fashion, and finished more retro than they started with rock classics such as Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.

Not only did they fire up the audience superbly in preparation, but their fanbase also resolved the terror of who would be first to break the dancefloor reservations. Now there was no stopping the crowd, as Female of the Species drummer, Pip Phillips of People Like Us was first to appear, foot-peddling the bass drum to build anticipation while the girls came onstage under an impressive light show.

Second tune in, Nicky Davis led them in an accomplished cover of Hotel California, and solo soul singer Julia Hanratty followed lead on Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, as is the Female of the Species code of conduct; memorable pop covers ranging the spectrums of their individual tastes. That said, we had none of the two-tone of Jools’ Train to Skaville, although she did an outstanding lead on Deacon Blue’s Real Gone Kid.

With affections towards uncompromising rock, Charmaigne Andrews’ AC/DC Highway to Hell boosted the crowd, but not before an early highlight for me; Julia’s absolutely outstanding cover of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, something I’d not advise any singer to attempt, as with Nicky last time, who gorgeously portrayed Heard it Through the Grapevine, Julia clearly knocked this one clear out of the park.

Claire Perry of Big Mama’s Banned not only brings range to the repertoire, but witty if saucy repartee to the show, unsurpassed during the break where Carmela joined her to announce raffle prize-winners. Sporting Wonder Woman headgear for the second half, they raised the roof of the Assembly Hall, as much as they raised serious funds for the cause.

Aforementioned, Nicky stood for the second half despite her plastered leg, as they played through memorable covers, dancefloor fillers, and perfected songs you’d be excused from thinking, oh my, they’re covering that? Bohemian Rhapsody, Grease Lightening, Oh, Sweet Child of Mine, and Jacko’s Beat It for examples. Jool’s cover of Kirsty MacColl’s New England, Claire’s I’ll Put a Spell on You, Charmaigne leading on Republica’s Ready to Go, the show continued past my bus time, but I could faintly hear Mr Blue Skies while I waited!

Yeah, here’s a thing I hadn’t thought of before; escaping the Devizes westwards for the evening is surprisingly possible via public transport, and it wasn’t a drunken fallout zone, like the Boot Hill All Star’s hilarious song, Night Bus, which I imagined, rather a mediocre and tranquil bus journey!

The last bus on the 273 route leaves Bath at 11:30, and gets to the Sham at ten-to-midnight; blooming marvellous, for Melksham have a real gem with the Assembly Hall. Drinks are affordable, the service well-staffed, the atmosphere is hospitable and they’re continuing to bring outstanding shows and events to the Sham.

All in all, this show was professional yet communal, absolutely fantastic and spellbindingly electric; if another comes along, I suggest you don’t miss out. But I must finish in thanking the Female of the Species and all involved for supporting such an amazing cause, and local girl; and to Carmela, you are a superstar.


Trending….

Local Supergroup Fundraising Event for Superhero Carmela

Here’s the thing, did you realise Monday marked the second anniversary of when Wonder Woman joined me on my milk round?! Yeah, true, and we raised some wonga for her alter-ego Carmela’s fund and fight against muscular dystrophy. And now Carmela is not only a tiny best friend of mine, but huge inspiration to us all and something of celeb now too.

Star of her own fun children’s book you can buy in Devizes Books to raise funds for her campaign, as well as hobnobbing with the stars, I’m delighted this evening to hear, some other of my favourite girls are reforming their supergroup to raise some funds in her name too.

Pre-lockdown, girl members of six bands annually joined for a fundraising one-off gig, and it was always something explosive, fun and a darn awesome night. Nicky Davis from Warminster based People Like Us and The Reason, Glastonbury’s Julia Greenland from Soulville Express & Delta Swing, Frome’s Claire Perry from Big Mamma Banned & The Misfitz, solo artist Charmaigne Andrews from Melksham, and Julie Moreton from Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville and Jules & The Odd Men, will come together once again, at the Melksham Assembly on 16th October, for a show not to be missed.

This, for me, is all too much to take in, girls, girls, girls, I’m not sure I can control myself. The Female of the Species raised just over £3,000 in 2018 for the fantastic youth community project, Young Melksham, and for all their efforts, they were selected for a Community Civic Award.

This time all of your pennies from the tenner tickets will go to Carmela’s Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy, and those tickets are here.

Support will come from Melksham rock, blues and alternative covers and original band Plan of Action. Seriously folks, put this is your diary.


Getting Cosy with the Gyros; Greek Pop-up Catering Coming to Devizes & Melksham

For the love of Eros, what’s the plan for your Valentine’s weekend in this restricted era? Just a language of love suggestion in view of limitations, because I’ve not tasted a Greek gyro, yet, but boy, the ones at The Cosy Kitchen pop-up takeaway look scrum-diddly-umptious! And word on the street is; they’re heading our way. Find them at the Wiltshire School of Gymnastics on Friday 12th and The Moonraker Pub, Devizes on the 13th February.

I’ve been chatting to these SBS winners, finding out how it works and asking them, why Greek. The foremost is simple, just rock up, order and obviously adhere to social distancing measures. They don’t offer pre-orders or deliveries, it’s collection only, “we find it’s not fair to the people queueing to then stop serving them when they’ve been waiting, for someone who has called up,” they explained.

The Cosy Kitchen started in 2019, on the events circuit, which is probably what jogged my memory of their popularity at Devizes Food & Drink Festival that year. “It has been difficult as we have had every event cancelled and I feel most of this year is going to be the same,” they told me, “so we’ve had to adapt to how things are to ensure we’re adhering to guidelines by putting things in place to keep everyone safe, it’s not been easy but all our customers have been amazing!”

The Cosy Kitchen at 2019 Devizes Food & Drink Festival

I’m reckoning it’s great for towns like Devizes, despite awesome Italian, Chinese and Indian restaurants, the choice is mostly limited to these. But why did the Cosy Kitchen decide upon Greek cuisine? I asked if there was a connection.

“We love Greece,” they added, “it was the first place my partner and I went on holiday and we fell in love with the place, since then we go back a couple times a year, to a little village where we are friends with everyone! We would come home, wanting gyros or Greek food and would drive long distances, and not be 100% happy with it, either not tasting right or the wrong atmosphere. So, we thought, let’s just do it ourselves!”

With a chef in the family, a connection to Greek suppliers, and friends who had restaurants (one called The Cosy Corner, influencing the name) to teach them recipes, The Cosy Kitchen was born and it treks Wiltshire towns and villages, bringing them a taste of Greece; what’s not to like?!

Cyprus is as close to Greece I’ve been, personally. An island which seems to cater for the majority English tourist by offering, I found tiresomely, chips with every meal. Much to my initial delight, at one point we tried an Australian bar where the owner proudly acclaimed in broad Sydney accent, “today we’ve got the Sunday roast.” But to my horror, even this was served with chips!

Due to this, the sustenance experience of my life occurred there, and I’ve been a fan of Greek food since. Yep, we’re talking the meze, a boundless round of courses until you drop. Honest, I’m a big eater, but this broke me. There’s a photo I’m not sharing, of me at this conjunction, reddened in face and blotted beyond compare. The waiter noted my faltering and tapped me reassuringly on the shoulder, “not long to go now!” But it was a big fat fib, as they covered the table in traditional Greek dishes, and I’m not one to excuse myself. They were all so fine, I had to try at least a bit of each!

The Cosy Kitchen found my recollection amusing, “ha-ha! Greeks do not understand portion control!” Which led us nicely onto the details of what a gyro is. Akin to the Turkish kebab, its meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, typically served wrapped or stuffed in a pita, along with ingredients such as tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. “In Cyprus,” those Cosy Kitchen folk informed, “they mostly don’t put chips inside their gyros, whereas in Greece they do.” I zoomed in their photos, story checks out, there be chips in there; fortunately, I’d just had my dinner, still got a tad eager though. But the Cosy Kitchen get only good feedback on their brand of “herby fries,” “people just love them!”

It all sounds good, and in my mind, I’m already queuing at the Moonies! But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, of which, incidentally, you can order cheesecake for £3 a slice, and I think we should report back on how they taste on the day, if you’re not tempted already!


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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