A Scandal with Tamsin Quin!

There are two sides to every story. We’ve heard Dolly’s angle since 1973, imagine if Jolene had her say. Traditionally, like gallant fables, songs seldom back the underdog, the aberrant. Particularly the rounded narrative of folk or country, usually tales culturally able to be retold, optimistically.

If the last local singer-songwriter you’d expect to be exploring darker tenets is Tamsin Quin, think again. Akin to Springsteen’s Nebraska, in so much it summons no such communal feeling, rather Scandal, the new single from our illustrious local songstress is secluded in a room of a distant, shady and enigmatic place.

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Image: Nick Padmore

A song of who the cap fits, of watching your own back. Tamsin advises “there’s criminals in the shadows, pull your friends a little closer.” But cross examines her own persuasions and faith in the notion, maybe, “we’re all scoundrels deep down inside.”

It’s as if the darker depths of Tamsin’s acute words in previous songs have come to detonation; executed sublimely, and produced with eminence by Phil Cooper. Scandal, out next Friday (30th August) is whole new level of excellence for this already blossoming star. I congratulated her, as vocally it sounds deeper and much more refined than anything before. Is that what she was hoping for?

“Yep,” she responds as ardently as the same ol’ Tammy, “I was totally going for the dark country vibes. Phil did such a great job producing it; I’m really pleased with the outcome. I hope its dramatic!”

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Tis indeed, like Wynette at her darkest; she builds tension around the breakfast table, the penny drops as to why Billie Joe Macalister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge and the protagonist attempts to hide her secret affair. “So,” I asked, “this is for a forthcoming album? Can we expect the others to be similar, or am I divulging too much?!”

“I’m aiming for a new album next year. The plan is for another single in October, then a single in February, and the album in April.” Tamsin expands the answer, “not all of the songs are this dark, although I am working on another haunting one at the moment, but the whole album feels a lot more mature that Gypsy Blood. I feel like I’ve grown into myself, and I’m writing what I want to write, instead of what I think the crowd will love. Writing more for myself I guess, although I really hope others really like it too.”

That personal enlightenment brews Tamsin’s poise when performing live, “writing things for yourself does tend to give you a little more confidence in delivery. Which I guess gives other people faith that its good, if you have faith in yourself and your work.”

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Image: Nick Padmore

I’m certain when reviewing Gypsy Blood, I suggested Tamsin sounded more mature, guessing both are a natural progression, though. “Guess you gotta grow up somewhen!” she laughs. I think you never stop learning and growing artistically, until, perhaps you reach a pinnacle and it doesn’t sound so progressive. Does she fear ever reaching that age where they say, “old Tamsin, just going through the motions?”

After stressing the importance to her of critical feedback, she laughed at the notion. “I guess that’s where the whole ‘writing for yourself’ thing comes in, because if you like your songs then you won’t care what people are saying.” I suspect that time is a long way off, Scandal in a nutshell is poignant, emotive and, perhaps an unanticipated gift to our music scene, and based upon it, I hold my breath for the album.

 

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Click for Tamsin’s Facebook page and like for updates and gigs!

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


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Lottie J and You

Fifteen, about to leave school, exam pressure and that dangling feeling of future prospects; I’d give my right arm not to go through all that again! Swindon singer, Lottie J groans at the thought, confesses music is her worst subject at school. Under the elderly assumption schools have changed since my era, where to quote “popstar,” as a chosen career will see you smashed over the head with a wedge of Beethoven song-sheets and told to wake up and smell reality, seems it’s not changed as much as I thought.

“They shared my video on their website,” she explained appreciatively, but slated the philosophy of studying classical music. Yet, Lottie has been in the headlines since she was eight, encouraged by Jamie Cullum when he visited her school and donated his old piano. Music was mapped for her then, with her first song, ‘Kiss Your Old Life Away’ making the final 10 of The Song Academy’s Singer/Songwriter Competition and later, in 2016, she made the Grand Final of Future Music’s Songwriting Competition, at Dingwalls in Camden.

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From a time when I first heard Lottie, delightfully but tensely tapping her keys and singing covers at Times Square in Devizes, yet an angelic voice ringing out, to this latest video for her song “You,” shows a natural ambition to pop stardom that I personally feel is imminent. Our phone conversation today revealed a matured girl, with poise in the prospects of her vocation.

Half the clips in the video connote a narrative of a regular local girl, falling out with a boy in the woods. Yet while it’s saccharinely juvenile, the contrast of a flipside displays a confident and sassy female popstar, dancing on a Chevy in the Las Angeles desert. It licks with all the style and panache of a professional contemporary pop video, and the song rides it like a wave of self-assurance. Is that the suggestion Lottie was hoping to achieve? “Totally!” she expressed.

On note of her education, Lottie continued to express her hopes of studying music at Bath University, where the syllabus will be more to her taste. Just go in there and slap your phone on the desk and show them this video, I ill-advised, yet, it’d work if it was me. Lottie is keen to learn the business side of the industry, as well as the performance and music technology. Herein lies my ignorance at how the biz has changed, when, through the writing and production, being she has independently produced this work, I ask her what comes next.

“The key is to get the music out there,” she elucidates. YouTube and Spotify subscribers are far more important than the idea of creating a physical album, which she disregards from the mere mention of. “This will get me gigs, and support gigs.” It’s a DIY ethos which with her talent, and motivation will see her reach the goal, overlooking the concept of pitching to record companies, and especially poo-pooing the idea of a stab at a Simon Cowell TV karaoke show. “It’s a fake industry,” she sighs, “you’re already down to the fifth round before being aired on television, and I’d probably be kept out for having the wrong hair colour!”

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Standing with George Wilding on Devizine’s birthday bash in November, as Lottie got the ball rolling, the fact we were both aghast at her singing ability not only means I’m not alone in the sentiment. But it showed a skill Lottie can paste into the more pop orientated direction she craves, and with these new songs, Snapped, but more so, You, it’s the kind of song I need a second opinion from my twelve-year-old pop-inspired daughter from. She confirmed my thoughts; it’s dazzlingly good. She taps her Spotify account to subscribe to Lottie’s profile. That’s what Lottie needs, that’s the way forward for aspiring young musicians; sharing is caring, the new break is an accumulation of subscribers and followers.

So do check it out and subscribe, or let your kids show you how to do it. No shame in that, I have to!


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


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Empty Chairs and Devil’s Music

The warden said, “hey, buddy, don’t you be no square, if you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.” Least Elvis tells it as thus, I wasn’t in the whole cell block at the time.

Ah, not always a wooden chair around though; availability of seating at many a gig I’ve attended slight, the act pleading to the shied audience to dance. Why I like the name of this Wiltshire, The Empty Chairs. It suggests everybody’s boogying, better than C+C and their music factory!

“We’re often asked why the band chose the empty chairs as a band name, it can sound negative, but when we’re faced with a room of empty chairs,” they explain, “it’s a positive thing because we know we’ve got the audience up and dancing.” For if you really do have to sit while listening to this rock n roll four-piece, you’re going to at least be toe-tapping.

While the Empty Chair’s provides an assortment of covers ranging from Imelda May, JD McPherson to rock n roll classics like Elvis and Chuck Berry, and lead singer Carmen also heads function band The Casual Ties with a plethora of pop hits spanning all eras, The Easy Chairs have released a debut EP of original material called “Devil’s Music,” very worthy of our attention.

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Sure, it’s rock n roll, essentially, but carries a tint of acceptable post punk pop; think Blondie particularly, given the accomplished gritty female vocals, delivered wonderfully by Carman Hyde. Yet, while the genre of yore may have lost its roots since Elvis was doing bird in the big house, the twangy pentatonic guitar licks, and archetypical composition of these original tunes are homage to the true spirit of rock n roll’s golden era, with nods to both its blues and country influences.

Throw away thoughts of seventies reconditioned rockabilly though, there’s nothing Matchbox, The Darts or gaudy suits and spongy platform shoes about this steady tempo rock n roll, for which I’d confess I troubled putting my finger on comparisons to the Empty Chairs, without cliché or discrepancies. Need to say more, it has to be heard, because while it retains these influences, it doesn’t feel retro revival in any fashion, rather strangely fresh and contemporary.

Neither, I suspect will it be the next big thing, to be brutal about it, it’s not bonkers as the title track, Devils Music, might suggest. It’s not high-energy rawness, taking you to new forms, but feels like some proficient musicians, drummer Dom, guitarists Daniel and Darren, and singer Carmen, having fun putting their four years of experience to the test, and for which, it works and is a fabulously catchy and bouncy beat, in line with their cater-for-all ethos.

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The opening tune, Preacher informs just how it’s going to go down, beguiling and rocking. The writing is virtuous, the title track which follows is a love-knows-no-rules subject, with an impenetrable rhythmic groove, which flows throughout. Southern fried it progresses through an eloquently melancholic account of a girl called Jodie, through to the feelgood Brand-New Day.

 
I know the bread-and-butter scenario for singers, a function band like The Causal  Ties requires you strum through timeworn anthems, and for which I’d suspect The Empty Chairs would produce a most memorable evening too. Yet I’d like to see these guys booked at a venue keen to promote original music, like the Vic, Southgate, or Shoes, as this showcase EP is skilful and moreish. In fact, guitarist Darren Arthurs just let it slip they’re at our trusty Southgate next year!

EP on Bandcamp here – and give them a Facebook Like here!


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


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REVIEW – Lark In The Park (Hillworth), Kimberley Rew @ The Southgate, Eddie Witcomb@ White Bear, Devizes

In The Wet And The Dry

Andy Fawthrop

Another busy Sunday afternoon of free music gigs around the town.

First to Hillworth Park for the much under-advertised “Lark In The Park”. I’ve heard of stealth marketing, but sometimes I think Fantasy Radio can take this too far. I saw/ heard very little about this, apart from one post on Facebook, so I wasn’t surprised to turn up an hour after the start of this event to find very few people there. Granted the weather forecast wasn’t great, but I suspect they’d get bigger audiences if they told a few more people what was going on. I managed to catch Clare doing a short set before the heavens opened in mid-afternoon then, like others, took refuge in the café for a coffee. Once it became obvious that the rain wasn’t going to stop any time soon, the few brave souls who’d turned up just melted away. I decided to join them. Bit of a wash-out.

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Fortunately the Southgate is just round the corner so I settled in there with a pint, and was soon joined by friends. The entertainment was provided by Kimberley Rew on guitar, and his wife & partner-in-crime Lee Cave-Berry on bass. Rew’s main claim to fame is having been guitarist and song-writer with Katrina & The Waves, having penned their big hit “Walking on Sunshine”, followed later in 1999 by “Love Shine A Light” when the band won the Eurovision Song Contest (remember that??). Since the band’s demise, Rew has produced a string of solo albums, and has clearly not lost the knack of writing catchy tunes.

The duo served up plenty of bop-along material, blending riffs from pop, boogie-woogie, rock and blues. There was some fine lead guitar from Rew, and solid vocals from both. If anything, it was a bit too exciting for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but absolutely nobody was complaining. It certainly blew out the cobwebs.

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By the end of their first set, the weather had started behaving itself again, and the sun made a belated appearance. So I made my way back down into town, and to the White Bear to catch Eddie Witcomb.

Eddie hails from up the road in Marlborough, and he’d pulled along his dad and a mate or two. So we had the start of a small, but beautifully-formed, audience which grew in size as the afternoon turned into early evening. Eddie did two sets, nicely blending his own very personal material with some carefully selected covers. We were treated to his versions of “Paranoid”, “Roxanne”, “Tears In Heaven” and “Stand By Me”, amongst others. His own songs were well-turned, featuring some fine playing, and delicate vocals. It was a mark of the quality of these songs, that they were as strongly received as the covers. His style was relaxed, and he was fully ready to engage in banter with the audience. He did confide that he was playing with a bit of a hangover, but if he was there was very little sign of it.

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So another great (free) Sunday of music around the town. I think we just shaded it – Weather 1, Music 2, and we all went home happy yet again.


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


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REVIEW – The Bone Chapel @ The Southgate, Devizes

No Bones About It!

Andy Fawthrop

Another little stroll up the hill on Saturday night to The Gate to see Swindon-based The Bone Chapel.

Drawn in by their billing as “cosmic Blues featuring broken guitars, shamanic percussion and whisky- soaked original songs of salvation, damnation, lost dreams, hope and love”, I had to admit I was intrigued to see if that was actually what they delivered. TBH it wasn’t. I’m not sure that any of that was ever actually on offer, just nicely-turned marketing bollocks. But on the positive side I did get to see and hear a rather excellent band.

The duo, consisting of guitar/ vocals and drums, got off to a gentle, laid-back start. It took a little while to get the crowd actually listening, rather than chatting, but once they got into their stride, things picked up quite a bit. There was nothing showy, nothing forced or strained, just some very competent blues and boogie-woogie. Folks started dancing and getting into the swing. We got some nice covers, including a great version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which went down a storm. And, for a mere two-piece, they laid down some great sounds, and nicely-textured toons.

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There were no broken guitars – but there was some great playing. There was no shamanic percussion – but there was good drumming. The crowd built, the crowd stayed, and the crowd liked what they heard. Can’t say fairer than that.

Another good gig – thanks Debs & Dave!

Future gigs at The Southgate (all FREE) are:

Friday 16th August: Broken Bones Matilda
Saturday 17th August: The Corsairs
Friday 23rd August: Beyond The Storm
Saturday 24th August: Sophia & The Soul Brothers
Sunday 25th August: Vince Bell
Friday 30th August: Daydream Runaways
Sunday 1st September: Gary Hall


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
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REVIEW – George Wilding @ Cellar Bar, Bear Hotel, Devizes

Andy Fawthrop

Images by Gail Foster

George Goes Wild For Charity

 

We all have different approaches to raising money for charity. Some of us lie naked in a bath full of cold baked beans. Some of us shave off all our hair. And some of us choose to terrorise the local neighbourhood by driving a milk float dressed in a Spiderman onesie. [what kind of idiot would even contemplate that?! ED] Each to their own. But some people go for a more straight-forward approach and simply put on a musical benefit night (so as not to frighten the neighbours).

And so it was that Mirko Pangrazzi put on a concert to raise funds for specialist treatment for brain damage for his son Liam. And so it was that we all dutifully piled in to the Cellar Bar last night to support him. Of course The Cellar Bar as a venue would have been a pretty poor attraction in its own right, but thankfully there was the irrepressible George Wilding to light up the evening for us.

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You’ve got to admire George for his sheer versatility. Not only did he showcase some of his own (very good) material, but he belted out covers from right across the musical spectrum. I love the way he’s prepared to have a crack at almost anything, sometimes discovering half-way through a number that he can’t remember the rest of it. But it doesn’t matter. Every number is good fun anyway. I’ve recently started to think of him as a sort of human juke-box, such is his range. And he delivers it all with enormous energy and great good humour.

To be honest – he was playing to a good roomful of friends and fans, but I don’t think it would have made the slightest difference – the boy would’ve been super-good whatever the circumstances.

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But amid all the great music, the wonderful atmosphere, and the cracking-good entertainment, it would have been easy to forget why we were all there. Turns out that financially it was a great success, with over £300 raised for Liam. So the crowd were not only enthusiastic, but also very generous.

It was good to see Mirko back at the helm in the Cellar Bar again, good to see George on absolute top form, and great to see a good crowd enjoying themselves. Great night.

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


 

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REVIEW –Rockin’ Bandits @ Hillworth, Jamie Williams @ Southgate, and Ian O’Regan @ The White Bear, Devizes – Sunday 28th July 2019

Another Free & Easy Sunday Afternoon in The Vize

 

Andy Fawthrop

This is getting to be a habit now. It’s a Sunday, the weather is balmy, and there’s lots of free music on offer.

Firstly to Hillworth Park for Fantasy Radio’s final Month of Sundays, featuring a live on-air radio show, showcasing the talents of a local artists. Today it was the turn of the Rockin’ Bandits, who delivered their usual performance of swing, country and rockabilly. Mixing a few of their own numbers with plenty of covers – Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Johnny Horton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash – you name it – the crowd really lapped it all up. Perfect nostalgia music for a sunny afternoon in the park.

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I couldn’t stay quite to the end because I wanted to get along to The Southgate to catch Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – a five-piece band who really dress the part. This Essex-based outfit knocked out an altogether more get-down-and-boogie kind of sound, with a blues and Americana edge to their original material. Their set also took a tour around some nice country-rock licks. It was a good atmosphere, with all the windows thrown open, the crowd listening both inside and outside of the pub.

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And finally, back down into town to listen to Ian O’Regan at the White Bear. Ian doesn’t really do his own material – he’s not yer usual singer/ songwriter – but what he lacks in the song-writing department he more than makes up for in the quality, range and sheer versatility of his singing and guitar-playing. His skill lies in the interpretation and delivery of other people’s great songs. His repertoire is eclectic, covering blues, folk, “Irish & Western”, country and rock. Occasionally sipping at his water, he established his usual friendly bantering rapport with the audience. And he played his heart out to a very appreciative audience – for two hours solid without a break! And even after that he had enough energy left to play an encore. Amazing stamina and dedication!

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Yet another great afternoon – three gigs in five hours – and all of it free!

So keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks, both before and after the Devizes International Street Festival there’s loads more (free) music scheduled in Hillworth Park, The Southgate, The Three Crowns, The White Bear and other venues too.


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


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