Devizes Arts Festival’s Soulful Finale

Featured image by Gail Foster

You’d be forgiven for assuming I’m reviewing a greyhound race with this introduction, for akin to snapping open the starting traps, it was a fraction of second after Motown Gold played the inaugural bar of The Temptations’ My Girl at the Devizes Corn Exchange Friday evening, that the first punter broke the dancefloor barrier, and a surfeit of dancers followed his lead.

Usually a summer occasion, Devizes Arts Festival succeeded lockdown’s gap year with this arts festival “lite,” consisting of three main events and a sprinkling of free fringe ones across the town; we’ve never had a November this good. The interim mini-festival came to a soulful finale with six-piece function band Motown Gold, who professionally and passionately delivered some classic soul covers.

Image: Gail Foster

Since day dot Devizes Arts Festival have inundated us with quality original acts, from music, dance, comedy, talks and so much more. To stage a covers function band might well be faced with some reproach, from those who didn’t attend and see the speed the mature audience jumped the dancefloor; call Norris McWhirter, I think we’ve a world record on our hands!

Ha, it’s as if many haven’t had the opportunity to shake their tailfeathers for a year or more, which they haven’t, ergo Devizes Arts Festival in all actual fact, perfectly picked their grand finale, because despite the creativity of originally crafted music, sometimes we all need to throw caution to the wind and dance our cares away to classics we know and cherish.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

The standard model of bassist and lead guitar, drums, keys and one saxophonist, with a female and male singer accepted, because they delivered the songs with wow-factor, onus largely on the magnificent vocal range of both, but in turn the glitzy professionalism and tightness of the band’s bonding. To book Motown Gold for your wedding would end in one heck of a memorable occasion, being a cut sky-high above the average.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

That said, for authenticity of the Motown sound, it was absent of various elements. Backing singers would’ve done wonders, an upfront brass section too, for the saxophonist sounded a smidgen lost without the celebrated trumpeters of Motown’s in-house band, The Funk Brothers. And if it failed to fulfil my “brass-is-class” precept, the one missing component most important is the tambourine of Jack Ashford. Forget modern metronome methods, the tambourine man was the time-keeper in this era of yore, so if you crave authenticity, the tambourine is crucial within a classic soul tribute.

Image: Gail Foster

Entering trainspotting mode, I’d also noted not every song was Motown, rather the band selected a wide-ranging repertoire from Stax to eighties RnB, such as Rufus & Chaka Khan, Sister Sledge, et all. But each one a danceable favourite, and executed with faultless precision, it really didn’t matter one, or even half an iota. So much so, my carping is trivial, I’ll put my handbag away.

Image: Andy Fawthrop

The essence is the pleasing performance, the joyful spirit of the crowd, the lights and eras-spanning retrospection, and it undoubtedly set the Corn Exchange alight with an unforgettable ambience, resulting in a brilliant finale to Devizes Arts Festival’s interim mini-festival, and leaves our jawbone firmly on the floor in anticipation for what they have in store for summer 2022. Though I hinted, they were giving away no secrets yet!

Devizes Arts Festival Team. Image by Gail Foster

If there’s one thing, we all need right now, it’s a good ol’ carefree, soul shakedown party. The proof was in the pudding, a grand night was had, the perfect end to what has been a gratefully welcomed Arts Festival for the town. One which Devizine needs to wrap up with a concluding article encompassing all the events into one feature, but right now, I’m still imagining myself doing watusi like my little Lucy, with the memory of a great night out-out!

Image: Gail Foster

Ronnie Scott’s in Devizes? Devizes Arts Festival Returns for November

Have you missed our wonderful annual Arts Festival, Devizions; too hungry for it to return to wait for next summer? I know I have. Never fear, Devizes Arts Festival offers an interim while we wait for 2022, under the motto, “The Show Must Go On.” Three fantastic musical events at the Corn Exchange and Town Hall over the month of November; and they’re tasty, very, very tasty.

For starters, a taster of London’s legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is coming to Devizes on the 11th. Celebrating 60-years since the founding of one of the world’s most iconic music venues, the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take to the road to celebrate the ‘Ronnie Scott’s Story’.

Direct from London’s world-famous jazz club and combining world class live jazz alongside rare archive photos and video footage, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, take you on a guided, musical tour of this music institution. Set amongst the dive bars and jazz juke joints of London’s Soho, we hear about the desperate hand-to-mouth finances of the early years and the frequent police raids.

Hear how Ronnie’s became neutral ground within rival gang territory and their scrapes with gangsters including the Krays who were rumoured to have taken Ronnie and Pete “for a little drive”! Life at Ronnie’s is evocatively re-imagined through tales of the club’s past visitors, from pop stars, film stars and politicians to comedians and royalty, but above all, the musicians.

But that’s not all, The Arts Festival are delighted to welcome Sally Barker to Devizes, on the 13th November. In this new show ‘Sandy, Joni & Me’ she will bring some of the songs of both Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny to the stage, exploring the singer/songwriter legacy that was forged in the early ’70s.

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

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

Online tickets are not yet up on the Arts Festival Website, but will be available from Devizes Books. Events are £21 for Ronnie Scott’s, £16 for Sally Barker and £18 for the Motown evening. To keep in touch with them, get onto their mailing list.

And you could look the part on the evenings, as The Show Must Go On facemask, and similar tote bags, T-shirts, badges, note books and more are available from www.theatresupportfund.co.uk which supports the NHSCovid19 Appeal, the Theatre Support Fund, the Fleabag Support Fund and Acting for Others. There’s currently 20% of all merchandise.

Devizine would like to welcome back The Devizes Arts Festival, and wish the team the very best for these great events.


Have a Sophia’s Soul Rebels after-lockdown party!

If we’re all eager to consign this lockdown to the history books, none so more, perhaps, than our pub landlords/ladies and event organisers.

I’d hope and imagine they’re considering ways to make the return to normal a real celebration. Just a suggestion then, as nothing with such universal appeal would bring the party to an apex then some live soul and Motown; yeah, I know right, comes at price though. But there is an affordable option, and they sound great.

I’d advise you check out this Sophia’s Soul Rebels video, recorded at the Bug @ Spider the week before lockdown, and tell try tell me this wouldnt liven your evening up!

https://www.facebook.com/sophiaandthesoulbrothers/

%d bloggers like this: