Mighty Mighty; The Scribes Storm the Muck!

Another fantabulous evening at Devizes’ tropical holiday resort, The Muck and Dunder rum bar, where Bristol’s boom bap trio I’ve been hailing since day dot, The Scribes, came, saw, matchlessly interacted with the audience, and tore the place down with a riotous show of incredible skill and talent; secretly, it was foreseeable months ago……

Again, straw hats off to the Muck, just like previous evenings with the Allergies, Jimmy Needles and recently the BBC Introducing showcase, it’s the like we don’t usually see in our humble market town. Something I’ve been excited about before even leaking the scoop, hyping up here till the cows come home, and still, it exceeded my expectations. It did so with one most important element; Devizes showed their respect loud and proud, attending in full force for this sell-out show, and made me honoured to illustrate what I’d hitherto promised to frontman Ill Literate, and even his dad, Literate senior(!); this is our hometown, it punches well above its weight in knowing how to party.

For if there are others of this calibre currently on the UK hip hop scene, I’m unaware of them. The Scribes, I find no quarrel in dubbing “our Tribe Called Quest,” for the similar way they can lyrically interchange and bounce off each other, extend their presence further afield from the niche. They’re about spreading their love of hip hop and rap, using an exuberant and carefree east coast old school ethos, blended with contemporary rap techniques, blessing new audiences with what they’ve got, and aside their addictive and inimitable style, they’re having a heap of fun doing it. Just don’t do like I did, and try to capture a snap of them, they move about like Michael McIntyre on fast-forward!

Tunes played out were tricky to pinpoint, not while jigging and balancing my pina colada! Undoubtedly, they dipped into the vitrine of their latest EP, a forthcoming second in the series of the Totem Trilogy, and I did pick out my dub-inspired favourite, Mighty Mighty. Yet in rap no tune is ever precisely replicated, making an improv live show different every time. What was a highlight of the miscellany was the Doug E Fresh moments of drafting in the single-most amazing beatboxer this side of Barnard Star, which if you’ve never seen the like of in good ol’ Devizes before, it’s equally unlikely you’ve seen the like of anywhere before, if you catch my drift?! What? I’ve had rum!

With the upmost respect for the influence Mel Bush left on Devizes, the legendary promoter who bought Thin Lizzy to the Corn Exchange, I find it fascinating the same year he did, 1973, across the ocean in a Bronx block-party, Kool Herc isolated percussion “breaks” by switching between two turntables via a mixer, to prolong the beat of the track. Yet to many here, what he fashioned that night is still regarded as new-fangled!

Albeit progress out of the ghettos of New York for hip hop was sluggish, at best not arriving on our shores until a decade later, hip hop culture is no new thing. So, while this legacy for electric blues and prog-rock is still felt today, through the likes of Jon Amor, who plays the Southgate this afternoon, Innes Sibun and whenever Robin Davey returns, and this marks a blessing on our music scene which I fully appreciate, rum bar The Muck and Dunder aim for diversity, for daring to present dance, club, and hip hop, perhaps reaching out to the twenty and thirty-somethings wanting more than a standard nightclub. And for this, providing they’ll accommodate my aging sorry existence, I cannot thank them enough!

For me, you see, I loved it since a nipper; the cuts of Grandmaster Flash, the moves of the Rock Steady Crew, the subway graffiti, and right through to Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys, so I believe I’m conversant on the subject to assess the Scribes are the freshest on the block, and I’m glad we showed them what we’re worth in Devizes. Because, here’s my final point, and I feel it’s the most important one, at least in destroying an ill-conceived misconception about the genre which The Scribes highlight with bells on. And that is, the pretentiousness, the bling, guns, and chip on the shoulder stereotype is a product of commercialisation, and is more often than not, an unwelcomed division.

The Scribes circumnavigated the good ship Muck & Dunder prior to the hoedown, chatting enthusiastically with all. To talk with Ill Literate is to find a kindly fellow with definite goals, a positive agenda, and ardent in the direction he needs to take this. Take his recent solo EP, The Shipwreck as a prime example; here’s a rap record on the level of concept album, akin to prog-rock, with a conscious narrative flowing throughout. This isn’t just rapping to make a noise, this is dedicated writing and production, though on a night like last night at the Muck, it’s also about appeasing the crowd, which they did, sublimely. I walked home in the pissing rain, smiling all the way.


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Dr John Otway Rocks Trowbridge’s Pump

By Lorraine Briggs

The last time Otway played Trowbridge was in July 2003 at the Village Pump Festival, he returned last night to a gig to raise funds for the same festival in 2023; and what a show it was! Earlier this year Otway played his 5,000th gig at the Empire Shepherds Bush; and his wealth of experience was evident as he masterfully took the audience on a journey of music and laughter……

Recently awarded a doctorate in music, Dr John healed the sell-out audiences’ woes with his madcap antics and deceptively clever lyrics; delighting loyal fans and virgins alike.

As per his live album, ‘The Set Remains the Same,’ there were few changes to either of the two sets except a dedication of ‘Louisa on a Horse’ to his long-term friend and fellow performer Wilko Johnson, who sadly passed away earlier this week.  During this number Otway’s exuberant performance caused the pliable stage to wobble and an amp to tilt forward.  Whilst this was duly saved by Deadly the Roadie before any real damage was done; I smiled to myself that Wilko had also given it a nudge and was chuckling with us.

One of the best parts for me about Otway’s solo shows are the expressions on the audiences’ faces, especially those who are new to the party, as he progresses through the first set with the immortal words “Well if you thought that was stupid, wait until the next song!” and closes it with “You’ll probably need a drink after this, I know that I will!”  From a 12 string guitar that’s hinged in the middle to a human drum machine, Otway certainly knows how to hold the attention of the crowd.

The second set was just as fun, the crowd joined in with the heckling to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ with gusto, and contrastingly Deadly’s lack lustre disco dancing to Otway’s top ten hit ‘Bunsen Burner’ went down a storm.  All good things must come to an end and inevitably it did; finishing with two encores ‘Cheryl’ and ‘Head Butts,’ encouraged by a zealous audience.

For future gigs at The Pump, click HERE.


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 22nd – 29th November 2022

Heads down for the last week of November, and there’s so much to get through. As usual, links and details to all events mentioned here are listed on our event calendar HERE, so check it out, as it may yet be updated before the week is through.

The observant among us (I’m told there are some!) will notice I’m deleting past dates now, so today’s date will show at the top of the calendar, hopefully making it easier to follow. I’m looking at better ways to present this info, but to be honest, Google calendars are impractical for storing the vast amount of info we have here, and the site is restricting on what we can do. I’m working on it but finding a method which is easy and quick to put up the information and equally user-friendly is tricky.

Anyway, lots to get through… Tuesday, I got nothing, the regular acoustic jam night down The Southgate Devizes on Wednesdays, and on this Wednesday, 23rd, Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Matt Deighton plays The Tree House, Frome and there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop starting at Salisbury Arts Centre, running until 30th.


To be honest, there’s so many craft fayres and Christmas events happening it’s impossible to keep track and also keep sane! Do look out for them on your local social media groups.

On Thursday 24th Milton Jones brings his Milton Impossible tour to the Cheese & Grain. There’s open mic at Stallards, Trowbridge, while their town hall has The I’s Have It, a pre-Christmas celebration of Italian and Irish, with music from Luca Rossi and Ruairi Glasheen, plus a delicious three-course Italian feast.

With the theme ‘Cold Weather, Warm Hearts’ the week ends with DOCA in Devizes, starting Thursday Devizes Window Wanderland 2022 will be go! DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Anyone with a window can create a display, but you should have registered for this already. All the public now need is the interactive map of Devizes highlighting all the different window locations.


And onto Friday 25th, the Devizes Winter Parade will light up the town, need I say more? Only to wish all the DOCA volunteers the very best, and Annabel and Ashley especially for their maiden voyage at the helm! There’s been a few social media posts about what to expect, such as the Celestial Sound Cloud; an interactive sound art installation from Pif-Paf Theatre, to be installed in the grounds of St. John’s on Friday and Saturday. They all look breath-taking, and the Shambles will be open late for shopping, and all this is leading me to believe this is going to be the most memorable one yet. Lanterns assemble!

Atop of this, The Pelican holds a Christmas Lantern Parade Festive Karaoke Party, and it might be your last chance to catch the highly recommended People Like Us before Christmas; they’ll be at the Three Crowns, Devizes; tidy!

Elsewhere on Friday, John Otway plays the Pump, Trowbridge. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment presents The Moon Hares at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, and Matt Owens & The Delusional Vanity Project play out their album “Beer For The Horses” at its launch at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Fossil Fools play The Vic, Swindon, while Fort Boyard & SexJazz do the The Rolleston, and its soul night at Meca, with an evening called Lost in Music.

Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s Friday done.


Saturday 26th is big, and it’s not just Lego Club from 3-4pm at Chippenham Museum! Winter Festival in Devizes continues, plus…….

I believe they’ve sold out now at SoupChick, who hold their second feast in the Shambles, Light of Kashmir promises to be beguiling, exclusive evening celebrating Kashmiri Cuisine and Couture, hosted by Angela Cave of The Parrot Cage and Anya Toropov of Soupchick. I attended the first one of these fabulous feasts, my tastebuds are still loving me for it. I am so sorry to miss out, but I will be at our Editor’s Pick of The Week!

Editor’s Pick of the Week: The Sribes at the Muck & Dunder

Despite Friday’s Lantern Parade, which should in most reasoning be my pick of the week, I’m certain there will the entire population of the Devizes area attending, ergo there’s no need to plug it anymore. No, what I’m talking about is the evening at the Muck & Dunder Rum Bar in Devizes I’ve been waiting for an age for, when hip hop sensations The Scribes bring boom bap to town; this, I tell you now, will go off. Tickets are running low, get in now, they’re only a fiver, and I hope to see you there, with one hand in the air! I did a poster for it, but they didn’t use it, I thought it quite good, and being they’ve not done another poster for it, I’m using to highlight it here, but you should note, it’s not the official poster!

Rockport play The Southgate, Pink Mac at the Barge, Honey-Street, Chaos Brothers at the Lamb, Marlborough. Melksham Rock N Roll Club have The Delray Rockets, and there’s the 20 Things for 20 Years Big Ball at Spencer’s Club.

Oh, and don’t forget The Toy Pig Race at Erlestoke Golf Course, which sounds too much fun for me!

The Moscow Drug Club, another disappointed missed gig for me after reading Andy’s superb review when they came to Devizes Arts Festival; they play the Pump, Trowbridge. Meanwhile find The Reservoir Hogs at The Wiltshire Yeoman, on Chalk Road.

Lonely Road Band play Colerne Liberal Club, Alter Eagles at Chapel Arts, Bath. Also in Bath, the interactive Alice in Wonderland Experience begins. Calan at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, also there, Bath Camerate presents Mother & Child.

In Swindon, there’s a Sahara Trek Fundraiser for Prospect Hospice with Slagerij, Death is a Girl, and Buswell & Nyberg, plus DJ Dust at Level III, while State of Quo play The Vic; they might be a tribute act, but I’m not certain of whom!!

Panto time, of course, Wharf Theatre announced they’ve sold out for Little Red Riding Hood, though we may yet be able to bring you a review of the night. So, find Cinderella starting at Salisbury Playhouse, opening Saturday, and running until January 23rd. Staying in the Spire, The Spitfire Sisters play Salisbury Arts Centre.

That’s Saturday dusted, from hip hop to panto, and rock n roll to pig racing! Last but by no means least, lucky ones get to see Turin Brakes play the Cheese & Grain, Frome; where else?!


Sunday 27th and Jon Amor’s residency at The Southgate, Devizes has been shifted from it’s usual spot, first Sunday of the month to this Sunday, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The fantastic N/SH plays Avebury Music Night, and the Bath Symphony Orchestra are at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon; weekend over, unless you’ve heard something we haven’t; then why did you not tell us about it?!

Nothing on Monday and Tuesday, yet; get some shopping done, don’t be like me and wait to the last minute because you’re too busy telling everyone else what they should be doing!! See you at The Muck? Hip hop hooray!


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REVIEW – Jazz Sabbath @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Sunday 20th November 2022

You wait for one to come along….

by Andy Fawthrop

After Saturday’s double-header at Long Street Blues Club with the Alex Voysey Trio and Hardwicke Circus, there was hardly time to draw breath on this exciting musical weekend.  A quick shift from the Con Club to The Corn Exchange, and there we were on a rare Sunday night out.  Yesterday evening D-Town hosted Jazz Sabbath as part of their UK tour, a date long in the calendar thanks to the forward thinking of Paul Chandler’s Longcroft Productions.…..

I’m sure Paul had been hoping for a somewhat larger audience to pack out the Corn Exchange, but there were still plenty enough people there to enjoy the club-style layout of dimly-lit tables and a sparsely-lit stage.  And the quality of the music provided was absolutely top-notch.

First up in the Support slot was London-based Billy Watman, who turned out to be an absolute wizz on the guitar.  Having spent his training in classical and flamenco styles, Billy treated us to an absolute master-class in how to get every sound possible out of his instrument.  With the occasional use of loops and pedals, he laid down his own backing tracks before playing some of the most virtuoso acoustic guitar work that I’ve seen or heard in a very long.  Explaining what he was doing as he went along, in modest and understated style, he laid out fingerstyle versions of Back To Black, Boney M’s Rasputin and even Pink Floyd’s Brick In The Wall.  This guy was massively proficient – there’s just no other way to put it.  He had the audience on side right from the get-go.  In fact there was only one thing wrong with his set – it was simply too damned short at only 20 minutes.  I’m pretty sure the audience would have liked a lot more.  Great stuff.

After the interval, and before the main act took the stage, we were treated to….a film!  A short docu-style item, featuring many celebrities, setting up the myth of the band doing their first gigs for 53 years!  (If you go onto their website you can read all the spoof material for yourself).  The joke/ conceit was maintained throughout the evening with further bits of film, and Adam himself pretending to be an 84-year old (he’s actually 48, just be clear).

I don’t know – you wait for years for a Black Sabbath tribute band to play in D-Town, and then two of them come along in a matter of a few weeks (Black Sabbitch played here only a month ago).  And then they were on stage.  Jazz Sabbath featured Adam Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman, keyboards, Dylan Howe, son of Alan Howe on drums and Jack Tustin (son of his parents I’m sure), on upright bass.

The whole idea was to produce jazz interpretations of Black Sabbath classics.  Sounds mad, but it wasn’t.  Adam has cut his teeth working for many years both with Black Sabbath, and with Ozzy Osborne’s Band, so he’s pretty familiar with the heavy metal basic material.  However his arrangements were an almost unrecognisable world away, and lots of the material was Adam’s own contemporary compositions.  This was very little Sabbath, and very much Jazz.

The two sets, apart from the spoof interruptions, were confident, laid-back, melodic and highly enjoyable.  Adam himself, taking the lead on piano, did all the talking.  It was uncanny to see him sitting in exactly the same place as his father Rick had done almost four years ago when he played the same stage with his KGB band. The audience, who were soon into both the music and the comedic wrap-around, were attentive and appreciative.  There was a richly deserved encore, and the crowd hit the streets happy, having been royally entertained.

And just time for a general shout out to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this gig happen, and to transform the barn of the Corn Exchange into a warm welcoming club atmosphere – from the sound guys, the stage setting/ lighting, the table lay-outs – a perfect backdrop for some great music.  This is the sort of gig that helps to put D-Town on the UK musical map, and further proof that the town can punch above its weight in terms of musical quality.  The gig was a bit of a (financial) risk, and whilst it might not have entirely paid off, it was nevertheless (musically at least) an absolute triumph.  Maybe the tickets were a bit expensive?  Maybe folks don’t like going out on Sunday nights?  Who knows?  But this sort of gig needs all our support.

And there’s a chance to do just that in a couple of weeks’ time when virtuoso keyboard player Lachy Doley (dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond) plays his only UK date in D-Town on Friday 9th December.  Get out and get those tickets – this is going to be a real one-off!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show! by Andy Fawthrop We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame … Continue readingPREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

REVIEW – The Alex Voysey Trio & Hardwicke Circus @ LSBC, Con Club, Devizes – Saturday 19th November 2022

Double-header, Double the Fun!

by Andy Fawthrop

In yet another busy musical weekend for Devizes, it was hard to choose where to go, with gigs all over the place.  A nice problem to have I guess, but on Saturday night I threw my money into the Long Street Blues Club hat to see two bands that were completely new to me.

First up was the Alex Voysey Trio. Alex had previously played the club back in February as support to Mike Zito.  On that occasion he played a solo acoustic set and impressed enough to be invited back with his full trio.  Alex has worked as a session and support musician to many big names in the business, and in many musical genres.  He’s a passionate advocate for blues music, and used his trio to great effect here, covering both traditional numbers and to his own modern compositions.

With Paul Arthurs on drums and Ben Hands on bass, Alex hit the stage with a range of snappy and upbeat blues/ rock numbers.  He soon had the crowd on-side, and used the opportunity to mix it up a little with a couple of slower, more laid-back numbers.  His one-hour set was sound, competent and thoroughly professional, featuring some nice flourishes on lead guitar.

The second half featured the first D-town appearance for Carlisle-homed five-piece Hardwicke Circus who, quite rightly it seems to me, are being tipped for big things. They’ve already opened for mega stars such as Bob Dylan at Hyde Park and for Southside Johnny.  Paul McCartney allegedly persuaded Glastonbury festival to get them to play, which they duly did.   And it didn’t take long for everyone last night to see why they’re so well thought-of.

The band featured Jonny Foster (lead vocals and guitar), Tom Foster (drums and vocals), Joe Hurst (bass and vocals), Lewis Bewley-Taylor (keyboards), Jack Pearce (saxophones).  This combination provided a great solid and multi-dimensional sound.

They’re a hard-working, hard-gigging band and it showed.  They’re young, sparky, almost punky, occasionally poppy, accompanied by some healthy doses of attitude.  But they’re very good, and they know it.  Their sound is strong and fresh, and has brought comparisons to all sorts of bands.  For me that included Dexys, Wilko Johnson, Madness, Fratellis – a little bit of something for everyone.

Straight from the off we knew we were in for a great set.  Lots of heft and drive, fast numbers, no messing about.  Loads of healthy banter with the crowd, and some well-placed audience participation in some of the choruses (“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” springs to mind).  There were plenty of good tunes, catchy hooks.  No long intros, just plenty of songs packed into their 90-minute set.  The crowd absolutely loved it, and an encore was never going to be in doubt.  But what an encore!  The band were joined on stage by Texan Joe King Carrascoa, guitarist and vocalist, and proceeded to deliver a six-song masterclass in how to play a crowd.  In among there were a solid rendition of The Band’s “The Weight” and a stonking version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.

If the future of music is in the hands of bands like this, we really have nothing to worry about.  This was an old-fashioned rock band in very capable young hands.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You

Friday 13th January 2023                              Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 18th February 2023                       Eric Bell Band

Saturday 1st April 2023                                  Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames

Saturday 15th April 2023                               Billy Walton Band

Saturday 6th May 2023                                  Kyla Brox Band

Saturday 27th May 2023                               Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 24th June 2023                               Earl Slick Band

Saturday 28th October 2023                        Susan Santo


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SGO Folk Up The Southgate

What of the apostrophe, diacritical, a punctuation marking a possessive case of nouns, a contractive omission of letters, or perhaps, in this case, a leftover smudge on a pub chalkboard?! Taking said chalkboard listing S’Go as the omission would read “S” for something, “go,” which could easily be ill-perceived as ultramodern funky electronica, or something loosly along those lines; not the case for this wonderful Swindon-based five-piece folk assemble.

Debroah, landlady of Devizes’ Southgate afirmed to me earlier in the week,“they’re an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” and to know the affectionately dubbed “Gate” is to know never to doubt her word on this subject. So, far from potluck, I dropped in, Deborah was already up dancing with the crowd, while George the pub alsatian slept in the makeshift apron.

Cleared up any band name confusion with the bowler hat attired frontman during their halfway break. Seems the apostrophe is old hat for the band, favouring it as an abbreviation, SGO, of which he may’ve broken down for me but I missed it in the alcohol-infused noisy moment. Regardless, he suggested a dislike of the name was unanimous between its members, so subject to change, ergo; none of this really matters anyway.

What matters is ever the music, atmosphere and levels of enjoyability, and while Devizes hosted another Long Street Blues Club night and the Condado Lounge was brimming with fans of Finley Trusler and Mark, only an adequate houseful graced the dependable tavern, I’ll confirm those who did wouldn’t deny for what matters, SGO skyrocketed all said levels.

Pub dog George seems to detect the impending intoxication levels of the human punters, connecting it to their need of dancing, and, after time prefers to slumber under the bar hatch. But one ponders the attraction in kipping directly in front of the performers is likely the natural heat they give off makes it the warmest spot. Though steady to begin with, SGO certainly gave British Gas a run for their money.

Brimful of sea shanties, hornpipe, parissienne and gypsy jazz, with subtle hints of Americana and country blues, SGO are both charming and accomplished. Melodically harmonising through geetars, fiddle and accordian, they reaffirm folk is the backbone to all modern musical genres, and launch preconceived notions of frumpiness within the modern scene out into the stratosphere. Akin to what Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club are putting down, this is achieved through replicating the timeless sounds of which folk have revelled in for centuries, and validates its worth in modern day.

All tradtions of folk were honoured, SGO covered classics, sporadically upping the tempo, enthused their audience, were amusing with localised ditties and personal prose. Referencing an expedition between their hometown’s landmarks the Richard Jefferies Museum to Coate Water as a sea shanty being a particularly adroit example. Yet they were at best producing some sublime instrumental moments of skillful union. The crowd were swaying in bliss, and perhaps, booze too.

Therefore the demanded encore was aptly Gretchen Wilson’s “You Don’t Have to Go Home, but You Can’t Stay Here.”

My lucky dip came up trumps, and a great night was had, although that’s the standard model at the Southgate. You should note Jon Amor’s monthly residency has been shifted to next Sunday, Rockport rocks up there next Saturday, one third Lost Trader, Phil Cooper follows on 3rd December.

For SGO, I’d recommend S’going to check them out, and can be found at Swindon’s The Gluepot on Thursday 1st December, with support from Shedric, and The Hop Inn with support from Canute’s Plastic Army on Wednesday 7th. Follow their social media HERE for updates.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th – 23rd November 2022

Got a proper soaking this morning, fat lot of good it is whinging to you about it, you are here only for the lowdown on autumn happenings this coming week, so I’ll waste no time waffling, don’t worry about me, yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine!

Currently up and running, until Saturday, is TITCO’s Dinner Party at The Wharf Theatre.

Staying in Devizes, Thursday 17th sees the opening of the historic event, Devizes Eisteddfod. Here’s the place to find future local stars of the arts, a five-day festival of over 400 classes of music, speech, drama, dance, writing, art, photography, and composition, for people of all ages, who may enter individually or through a school or group. There are competitive and non-competitive classes. The Music, Speech and Drama classes will be held in Devizes Town Hall. Find out more HERE.

Over in Bradford-on-Avon, check out Dylan Smith who has an official launch gig for his Cruel to be Kind album at The Boathouse.

Also find Ezio playing Chapel Arts, Bath. And for some doom metal and stoner rock, try a double-header at The Vic, Swindon, with Phantom Droid and Dark Prophecy.


Friday 18th is Marlborough’s Christmas Light Switch-On.

After The Rocky Horror Experience, Soul II Soul’s Feel Free Tour comes to Meca. Yes, I said Soul II Soul, wowzers! But if you’ve no tickets get in or check the alternatives in Swindon; The Beverley May Band at The Sun Inn, Coate, Splat the Rat play The Hop Inn for Swindon Folk Club.

In Devizes, it’s pub quiz time in aid of Arts Together at the Cavalier, and I’ve got to recommend the highly entertaining Blondie & Ska duo, who play The Pelican. Chippenham duo, as it says on the tin, do Blondie covers but also include those Two-Tone classics, in a kind of fashion you’d wished Blondie covered them; it’s lots of fun. In fact, it was going to be editor’s pick of the week! UPDATE: sorry to hear this has been cancelled. Postponed until 3rd February.

Drag Show at the Neeld, Chippenham, with The Dazzling Diamonds. Limehouse Lizzy at Salisbury Arts Centre.

After N’Famady Kouyate at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, they’ve got something on my hitlist, the acclaimed Moments of Pleasure, a Kate Bush tribute. Meanwhile, it’s bonkers at The Three Horseshoes with a triple bill of Hell Death Fury, Lone Sharks, & Monkish.

Craig Charles is on the wheels of steel at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Richard Norris plays sister venue, The Tree House.


Saturday 19th, kids, Lego Club, at Chippenham Museum from 3-4pm. I know I keep mentioning this regular event, but I love the sound of it, wish there was a Lego club when I was a kid, and well, I might go one day anyway. My own kids will be like, “dad, I need a lift to my science book writer’s guild annual general meeting,” and I’ll be like, “fat chance, I’m off to Lego Club!”

Find handmade jewellery, woodwork, hand-poured candles, scented soap, artwork, and handbags at the Mynt Image Craft Fair at Devizes Corn Exchange from 10am-4pm. And in the evening find the Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio at Long Street Blues Club; upcoming talent Saturday, sounds tempting, very tempting! UPDATE: being our Editor’s pick of the season has been postponed, this isnew Editor’s pick of week!

The Southgate promises folky blues with S’Go, a new one on me; Deborah tells me, “They’re an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” Cannot argue with that. Ye gods, that sounds tempting, very tempting too, what am I to do?!

Night Jar play Woodbrough Social Club, Miranda Sykes’ Show of Hands is at Marlborough Folk Roots, at the Town Hall, and the local favourites, Humdinger play The Lamb, Marlborough.

There’s a Trowbridge Weavers Christmas Market, and Gaz Brookfield plays the Pump, with Heartwork and Be Like Will in support, but I believe it’s sold out, check their website, but be quick on the flux capacitor. You could always head to the Somerset Arms, Semington failing that, where you’ll find The Beverley Maye Band, or The Buckly Rage at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

The wonderful seven-piece soul band, aptly named Blue Soul Band play the Contsti, in Chippenham, tributes The Faux Fighters at The Vic, Swindon and Coldplace at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Jessica Fostekew’s Wench runs at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s your Saturday night.


Sunday 20th. I’ve checked this over and over, and it definitely says, Jazz Sabbath is at the Corn Exchange, Devizes on Sunday, are we sure it’s not Saturday, people? Damn your eyes, that’s a school night!

Also occurring, Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra with Huw Warren at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Clinton Baptiste tour at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, after a record fair, and tribute L1nkn P4rk at The Vic, Swindon.


And that’s your lot, I got nought for Monday and Tuesday, but don’t forget it’s the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate Devizes on Wednesday, 23rd, and Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop beginning at Salisbury Arts Centre, which runs until 30th, and Matt Deighton is at The Tree House in Frome.


The biggies next week are of course, the Winter Festival and lantern parade in Devizes, Friday, and the start of the Window Wanderland. Saturday sees the second feast at Soup Chick, of Kashmir cuisine, and The Scribes come to Devizes, at the Muck & Dundar. We love the Scribes here at Devizine and are thoroughly looking forward to this; get a ticket!

John Otway at the Pump, Trowbridge on Friday, and The Moscow Drug Club on Saturday, both worthy of your attention. Then, gawd blimey, it’ll be December. I’m trying to keep up and update as regularly as possible, including getting the biggies up for next year. Have a great weekend, keep a check on our event calendar for updates, and planning ahead.


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Review: Cracked Machine at the Southgate

by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley

Following a night in the Corn Exchange Friday, the chance arose for something completely different, something new to our ears……

Life got in the way, and the support- Clock Radio were regrettably missed on this occasion, one to look out for soon…

Wondering into a rammed Southgate just in time for Cracked Machine’s set we were aware of them clearly having a strong following.

How can we describe the sound? Heavy but relaxing? The strongest bass delivery you are likely to hear anywhere, incredible layering of sound from that bold bass, the prodigious lead guitar and backed with some fine, crisp delivery from the drums.

With no vocals, comes a name to hold court with musicianship. It didn’t appear to pose any pressure for this machine. We found ourselves captivated, enthralled entirely by something so different.

Our limited research prior to the gig, (we were encouraged to try by drummer Gary) threw up a tag of ‘space rock’. There’s not a huge amount of it anywhere in the world it appears, Germany and Japan seemingly the widest exponents.

Yet here we are in Devizes, in what guitarist Bill Denton proclaimed as ‘the best live music venue in Wiltshire’ watching space rock. (Ed’s note: yes, here’s a review of them at The Gate by Andy, from 2018.)

In the same way fans like ourselves might immerse their senses in big musical landscapes of say Pink Floyd, you find yourself in fact listening mesmerised, personally oddly relaxed…. there’s that driving bass and sufficient volume to shake the rafters, yet it’s like you’ve found yourself in the bars of Tatooine.

Years of music collecting and gigs have left no reference, no recollection of anything quite like it. So, chatting with the band, Prog Rock people often like them, space rock people love them, and as of yesterday so do we!

Check them out! I cannot remember the last time a band I liked left me with such difficulty describing their incredible music.

As ever and in full agreement with Bill, thank you Deb and Dave at The Gate for their unrivalled passion for live music in Devizes. Thank you to Cracked Machine, look forward to next time.


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Upcoming in Devizes; Nothing Rhymes With Orange’s Debut EP

The younger they are the more tempting it is to excessively praise, despite honest constructive criticism being far more helpful than flattery. So, I press play on these three tracks which make up the debut EP from Devizes-based teenage indie-pop band, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, with the intention of deliberately finding a possible downgrade or two, to convince you it’s not the case here, which is not as easy as it sounds……

It’s not even near beginners’ luck, that which we fondly reviewed their first single from the EP, Chow For Now, in October, and if I went in blind, I’ve a better perspective of where they’re coming from now, and predict very soon everyone will, least should.

The fact they’re releasing an EP called Midsummer bang central in autumn is the only bombast in me. This is unconditionally distinction-type stuff, the like I’d have said of a band of ten plus years of professional experience under their belts. Far from the odious din of antagonism and rage of many a youthful punk-pop experiment, which isn’t my preferred cuppa, this is universally age demographic spanning, appealing to all.

If they cite their inspirations from The Wombats, Smashing Pumpkins and Arctic Monkeys, my elderly soul picks out early Jam, and a plethora of bands from that late seventies, early eighties era. Mind, they also cite The Cure; I’m happy with that compromise, though suggest it’s never as gloomy as goth. Look at the picture, they bounce; Robert Smith never bounced!

Reason being it ticks every box is it’s shrewdly written with original angles on themes of fledgling passion and relationships, yet it’s lively, happy, beguiling, and danceable, and, concluding with a cliche word I don’t like to overuse but find myself in a position no better than to define it as “catchy.”

Recorded at The Badger Set Studios in Potterne and released this Friday, 4th November, if Chow For Now rides a degree of optimism in the despair of a relationship breakup, Creatures is equally as expectantly ingenious and dynamic, commenting on a larger picture of teenage delinquency, reminding me somewhat of Supergrass’ Alright, yet with far more punch. This one is simply anthemic, picture future fans singing back to them, perhaps even more than Chow. But while Manipulation reduces the tempo, proving the boys can execute the obligatory melancholic superlatively too, though subtly, the wordplay steps up another notch. Example; “you make manipulation seem like a lullaby, go get your education, I’m not your type of guy,” just, yeah, works.

You can pick these tunes apart and if the characters in Creatures, suggest they think they’re “cool because they don’t listen to the teachers,” I really hope your English teachers are listening to you, guys, for this is quality badinage, astutely written pop. To retort on my mockery of the EP’s name unfortunately inconsistent to the current season, these tracks were put down during the summer, in a barn in rural Wiltshire. Country schoolkids, huh? Typical, nothing better to do than hang around barns, picking up guitars and drums, practising like hell, precisely promoting, and marketing their outpourings, and coming out with this monstrously superb sound to upstage the best of our local scene, you should be ashamed of yourselves!

The original four-piece line up consists of frontman Elijah Easton on guitar, with the apt strain of adolescent sincerity in his vocals, Fin Anderson-Farquhar, also on guitar, and drummer Lui Venables, with bassist Ivor Ritson who since moved on to be replaced by Sam Briggs. Fast creating a loyal fanbase after reaching the finals of Riverbank Chippenham’s Take the Stage, they’ve managed their own sell out gig, and supported upcoming Carsick at Trowbridge’s Pump. I suggest you do yourself a favour, young and old, pre-save this EP here, ready for Friday, and keep a keen eye on these lads. They’re playing a Freaky Friday at St James Vaults in Bath, Friday 11th November, with Chasing Kites supporting Harmer Jays. I’m sorry not to be able to make it but urge local promoters to get these guys booked.


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Barrelhouse Rams The Gate!

When Barrelhouse visited the Southgate last easter, it was a great affair, though I was surprised to have been among a lesser crowd than a typical night down Devizes’ ever-dependable tavern. Given our blues obsession and this largely Marlborough based five-piece’s exceptional talent for providing exactly that, a clashing evening at Long Street Blues Club, if memory serves me well, is the only logical explanation. This time made up for it……

See, I’ve witnessed the crowd-pulling ability of this band on their home-turf, as residents of MantonFest, and was pleased to strut headlong into the rammed mosh pit, even if it meant accidently tripping over a dog, who got their own back with a nip of my badly executed apologetic hand! Rammed in there for birthday-boy landlord Dave, indeedy, but also, I confirm Devizes has awakened to how good these guys are. So rammed, even, I gave up trying to get a decent photo.

The dancefloor proved my point, Devizes has cottoned onto the Barrelhouse fanatical, and last night they took the packed boozer on their magical journey. Squeezed into our legendary alcove, it’s a good job they’re only barrel by name, otherwise it could’ve gone all Popup Pirate! I arrived fashionably late, plastered in badly grafted zombie makeup, but in time enough for the signature tune, and the one which attracted me to their most brilliant originals, Mainline Voodoo, a track they submitted to our first Julia’s House compilation. And being this was followed by their delta-version of Ace of Spades, I was happy to be there.

It’s when they slide in a cover of The Weight, you know you’re in good company, bassist Stuart jesting to me they only run it so Jim Morrison fashioned frontman, Martin Hands can sing the word “fanny.” And there it is, see, not a band with a standout character, but a real tight teamworking collective, they bind and entertain like clockwork, and the sound they produce is as it says on the tin, “vintage blues with a hard-edged groove.”

An encore was demanded, after Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, they only went and did Honkytonk Woman, and rinsed it with the skill they put into every one of their originals. Much so, you cannot see the seam, there is no wandering off to the bar when they call it, “here’s one of our originals;” no; crowd be like, okay, I’m happy with that. Especially at The Southgate; we like it like that.

It only leaves me to direct your eyes to the poster below, a kind of interim MantonFest, where alongside a Slade tribute, you’ll get the full impact of Barrelhouse on their home turf, and unless you hold out until they’re at the Gate again, you should make a beeline for this Christmassy offering.


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Female of the Species; Deadlier in Seend!

A glass half-full or half-empty scenario, to be at Seend Community Centre. The optimist in me ponders least it’s central, bang tidy between the Sham, Vizes and Trowvegas, or even if it matters if it is a wholly Seend affair, whatever; their Community Centre sure is a village venue to be proud of.

Neither am I here to dabble in petty town council politics. What’s been held at Melksham’s Assembly Hall for so many years and raised so much wonga for apt local charities, the local all-female supergroup Female of the Species’ outing now packed out the new place last night for their annual extravaganza, and as always, it’s a beautiful, highly entertaining shebang.

This time in aid of teenage advice organisation TeenTalk, the girls were adorned in costumes in a manner superior to anything gone before. With corresponding stage decor, they were looking absolute dynamite; gothic halloweenish, to suit the theme, and they knocked a series of sublime covers out of the park.

I mean yeah, with the look of celebrity divinity they charged the stage, opened with a more Bangles’ Hazy Shade of Winter than Simon & Garfunkel’s, followed it with Sledgehammer, but stars really came out on the third tune, with saxophonist Karen Porter’s matchless riff of Baker Street. Here the penny dropped for those not-in-the-know; Seend was aching towards a party in a calibre of magnitude, though I suspect many there were fully aware and prepped, the anticipation was positively buzzing.

The lesser capacity of this hall only breathing more atmosphere into their performance than ever previously. Yet either way in either hall, the frontwomen of these local bands, Jules of Trowbridge’s Train to Skaville, Nicky Davis from People Like Us and The Reason, Julia Greenland from Soulville Express, Claire Perry from Big Mamma’s Banned, and solo artist Charmaigne Andrews, never have a Jagger and Bowie moment of Dancing in the Street. That upstaging yearning simply doesn’t compute with them, and with every year which passes sees them more harmonious and in solidarity, save perhaps the customary saucy banter! It’s the reason why it’s as firm a fixture on my calendar as Christmas.

A covers night it maybe, but one of the highest qualities, with each singer adding their own genre preference into the cauldron. The method is this combined acquaintance, the magic is in the pop diversity they nimbly execute together. An example came quickly, when Jools led a floor-filling blast of Dawn Penn’s reworked rock steady classic, No, No, No. Through slight Halloween themed Hungry like Wolf and People are Strange, each tune was building into a continuingly improving pop compilation, arriving at an apex with a breathtakingly soulful version of The Faces’ Stay with Me, verging on Aretha-level of greatness.

But none of this happened before a superb support set of originals by young Trowbridge country-pop singer-songwriter Becky Lawrence, who, donned in a tiny witch’s hat and accompanied by warlock-looking guitarist Dylan Smith (more on this chap at a later date) treated us to her crystal-clear vocals and acute observational wordsmithing. Particularly poignant was her single, Loud and 17, even if seventeen is a long-vapourised recollection for me personally! Such was the performance; both these musicians are bleeping promptly on my radar.

With the thought of Jools returning with her band, Train to Skaville for New Year’s Eve this year, as The Female of the Species blasted through their catalogue of wonderful covers, it draws a double line under Seend Community Centre as a seriously contending venue and their lively and diverse range of events. Quality night, as to be expected based on past experience, but with an added bonus of a Halloween spooky theme and in a new venue; enough for me to don some zombie slap, which promptly melted off my face in the heat of the dancefloor moment!


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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amour”@ Lavington School, Devizes – Wednesday 26th, Friday 28th, and Saturday 29th October 2022

Opera Is Back! – The Elixir Of Love! – Go See This Show!

by Andy Fawthrop

We’ve said it before, and we feel no shame in saying it again, but we are incredibly lucky to have so many talented musical and dramatic companies on our doorstep.  White Horse Opera (WHO) is but one of these, a company packed with plenty of both talent and enthusiasm.  They’d previewed this week’s offering with a few early excerpts at their Spring Concert way back in March in Devizes Town Hall, which I also attended, but tonight’s dress rehearsal was a chance to see how the full operetta had panned out.

And I have to say that it is a total and delightful success!  Regular readers will know that I’m no expert on opera, but it’s one of the musical forms that I do happen to love.  This particular 19th-century two-act comic opera production is a very accessible and easy-to-love piece, with some absolutely gorgeous music. 

The plot, as is fairly usual in any comic opera, is somewhat ludicrous and unbelievable.  Briefly – Nemorino, a poor peasant, is hopelessly in love with the beautiful Adina, a rich landowner.  Aware of his adoration, she torments him with her indifference and allows herself to be courted by the recently-arrived Captain Belcore.  Nemorino resorts to buying what he thinks is a love potion (in this case a cheap bottle of Bordeaux) from the shameless Dr. Dulcamara, but will it work to enable him to win her love?  That’s the set-up in the first act.

Will everything be resolved in the second act?…..well, you’ll have to come and see the production to find out!  Suffice to say that there are lots of twists and turns, deceptions, misunderstandings, a secret inheritance and plenty of improbabilities before everything is finally sorted out.

The opera, which essentially is about the triumph of sincerity over trickery and duplicity marks Matt Dauncey’s directorial debut, and he’s made a fine job of it.  He’s introduced some nice visual comedy into the production, but without obscuring the essential comedy of Donizetti’s plot.  It also features three big duets between the exciting lead tenor (Robert Felstead making his debut opera performance with WHO) and lead soprano (beautifully sung by the ever-reliable Lisa House).  There are other star turns too from Jon Paget as the dashing Captain Belcore and Stephen Grimshaw as the duplicitous Doctor Dulcamara.

For regular opera lovers, this show is an absolute must, and for those wondering about whether to dip their toes into the shallow waters of opera, this would be a cracking one to start with.  It’s very accessible – it’s sung in English and there are programme notes to guide you through the plot – but, more importantly it’s really well done.  To say that WHO is an amateur opera company is to somewhat undersell itself – what they deliver is an extremely polished and professional performance.  The opera itself is a delight, featuring lots of great songs and choruses, and it delivers a great night’s entertainment.

In summary the main reason you should go and see it is that it’s bloody good!

Tickets are still available for performances tonight (Wednesday), and for Friday and Saturday.

Future WHO events:

Sat 12th Nov 2022              Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore    7.30pm Hilperton Village Hall

Fri 25th Nov 2022               Top Of The Ops                                 7.30pm Holt United Reformed Church

Wed 14th Dec                     Christmas Concert                           7.30pm St. Johns Church, Devizes

More information on WHO is available at www.whitehorseopera.co.uk


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 26th Oct – 2nd Nov 2022

So, Rishi Sunak is prime minister, eh, how about that for diversity? Last time, a woman, of sorts, now an Asian chap. A tax-avoiding billionaire Asian chap with a name which sounds like a brand of orange fizzy-pop, but one nonetheless. You’ve got to wonder who it’ll be next week.

My money is on a Klingon, but I must commend the Tories, seems they’re not quite as prejudice as Nazis after all. It doesn’t matter, age, gender, race or religion; providing you’re working class they’ll shit on all of us from a-high, but with a degree of equality.

It would’ve been nice if Liz Truss could’ve stuck around for another week, if only for topical pumpkin carving purposes, because yes, it is the ancient American-over-commercialised Gaelic feast of Samhain, or Halloween to Christian cultural thieves.

After a family outing to pick our own pumpkins on a farm near Rowde in torrential rain last Saturday, confirming I married into a rural family, and kids who consider themselves too matured to trick or treat, I’d like to go out on creepy tiles (see editor’s pick of the week) but tickets are being grabbed fast, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel by the weekend after being brutally attacked last Saturday by a hanging basket.

Where were Wiltshire Police when the attack took place, you cry? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. Typical, and that hanging basket is still at large somewhere, be warned. Needless to say, I sustained a surprisingly substantial head injury, though not the reason I’m talking complete toilet; I’m always like this.

I did manage to see a doctor. After a reply I pre-empted to be a telephone appointment sometime in May 2023, going by social media rants, I was invited to Southbroom surgery faster than I could change out of my Paddington jimmy-jams, and within the hour I was let back on the street. Not forgoing I retain a sore head with bolts of pain shooting through it upon the slightest of movement, but I’m after no sympathy. It’s the worry of 50 coming like a rocket over the hill at me. Any previous age and I’d have been, like, ah, just a bump to the noggin, be right as reign come morning. But now, any slight aliment and I’m drafting my bucket list; though I’d suspect Kylie Minogue won’t respond favourably in any case.

Onwards with what’s happening this creepy weekend, before I dose myself in more paracetamol. As usual the only link you need for more info and tickets is our event calendar HERE. If there’s stuff going on I’ve not mentioned below, stay tuned to the guide as I might yet update it through the week, and if it’s your event I missed, that’s likely because you didn’t tell me about it.

Wednesday 26th, and it’s the White Horse Opera’s opening night of L’elisir d’amore at Lavington School, which runs until 29th. And the Rondo Theatre, Bath has Female Transport, also running the same dates.


On Thursday 27th Devizes Lgbtq+ hold their Drag Queen Bingo, Halloqueen Edition at The Exchange in Devizes, which was a sell-out last time, so get in quick.

Find reggae at Level III, Swindon with the Erin Bardwell Three, and Grim Slickers at The Vic.


Friday 28th, Halloween Family Disco at The Neeld, Chippenham. LGBTQ+ Halloween night at The Exchange, Devizes.

Violin, rapper and loop artist, Mike Dennis is at The Pump, Trowbridge.

Bit confused as I’ve a poster from the Specialised Project, advertising Monkey Ska at the Vic, Swindon, but listings show Getrz, Vicuals and I See Orange playing there too, so perhaps the first one has been cancelled, unsure. The Terraplanes Blues Band play the Rolleston Arms, though, that much I do know!

Also find Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, Muze at The Tree House, Frome, while The Freddie & Queen Experience are at the Cheese & Grain.


Saturday 29th, everything is awesome at Chippenham Museum’s Lego Club, 3-4pm every Saturday. It’s Autumn in the Park at Hillworth in Devizes, see poster, and St John’s Michaelmas Fayre too.

Getting very Halloween now, with Halloween Karaoke at The Pelican Inn, Devizes, Devizes Scooter Club’s Skalloween at the Cavalier, a Halloween party with DJ James Therelfall at the Muck & Dunder, Thriller Halloween party at the Exchange, and The Monster Ball at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Kind of optional creepy fancy dress at Editor’s Pick of The Week: The Female of the Species 7th Annual Fundraising Gig at Seend Community Hall.

Tickets are going like hot cakes for this annual extravaganza from our lovely all-female local supergroup, now packing a punch at Seend, so get in quickly, it is always an amazing show.

Away from Halloween vibes, those masters of vintage blues, Barrelhouse play The Southgate, Devizes, Trash Panda, The Bastard Son of Humdinger & My Mate’s Band play The Coppers Arms, Pewsey. Strange Folk at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

Stop Stop at The Vic, Swindon, Judas Rising at the Rolleston.

Congress at Salisbury Cathedral, Spritato – Inspiring Bach at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. Oh, and The Lightning Seeds play The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Sunday 30th, The Innes Sibun Band arrive at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, guaranteed knockout.

Spooky stuff continues as Monday 31st is the opening night for Picnic at Hanging Rock at The Wharf Theatre, Devizes; of which I’m hoping to get a review of out by Monday, or Tuesday latest. Running until 5th November, preview here.

And we’re into November, Wednesday 2nd don’t forget, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Jordan Bak is at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

Keep on scrolling for future fings to do, hopefully I’ll join you real soon, hanging basket though, I ask you, evil hanging basket; why can’t they just plant flowers in the ground like normal folk? They should be brought to justice! Have a good week, the doctor told me to stay off devices and screens, so I’m outta here, going to take up badminton instead, which is an extreme sport to me!


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REVIEW – Chaz Thorogood @ The Southgate, Devizes – Sunday 24th October 2022

Thoroughly Good Thorogood

In Praise Of Sunday Afternoons At The Gate

Andy Fawthrop

Do you ever get that feeling that each day has its own special feeling, its own atmosphere?  Do we even need to talk about Mondays?  Fridays, especially Friday evening, have that “thank God it’s all over for another week; let’s go out and have a drink to get the weekend started” vibe.  Saturdays are sport, leisure, shopping, maybe a meal out, perhaps a music gig.  And Sundays, well Sundays are different yet again, aren’t they?  Yes I know there’s that well-documented slight anxiety about the coming working week, but there’s just something more laid-back, more relaxed about the whole atmosphere.

And that’s how it is at The Southgate on Sunday afternoons – comfortable, relaxed and a nice buzz amongst the regular music-goers.  Some of my best memories of 2022 have been those lazy, hazy Sundays at Dave & Deb’s place, watching some of the best local musical talent on show.

All year, on each first Sunday of the month, local hero Jon Amor has been showcasing his musical “friends” – his trio with Tom Gilkes on drums and Jerry Soffe on bass, together with an eclectic set of special guests (Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse in the early part of the year being a particular highlight).  But one of those guests, guitarist Chaz Thorogood, impressed so much that he was asked to come back with his own band and do his own gig, and yesterday we were treated to the results.

But first a short aside – last Sunday afternoon featured another superb artist: Jack Grace and his trio.  What a show that was.  More than two hours of country/ folky/ blues/ rock songs stitched together by Jack’s amazing commentary and stories.  There were echoes in there of Hot Tuna, Tom Waits, Alex Harvey and a whole vaudeville vibe that was by turns exciting, hilarious and totally infectious.  It was genuinely one of those gigs that you just don’t want to end.  Musical entertainment of the very first order.

Jack Grace Band

However, I digress – back to Chaz.  As if last week-end’s show couldn’t be bettered, here was something equally good.  Playing plenty of rock-infused blues, Chaz’s two sets were a revelation.  Taking several blues standards by the throat, he and his boys steadily squeezed new life out of them.  Crossroads, Got My Mojo Working, Folsom Prison Blues all got the treatment, with some absolutely inspired leas guitar work.  And then, if it were possible, he went up another gear.  What he did to Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile was absolutely stunning (“filthy” was the word used by a friend of mine).  Later he repeated the trick with All Along The Watchtower, and even managed (I can’t believe I’m saying this) to kick seven bells out of Britney Spears’ Toxic.  And there was a final cherry on the cake – a stonking and inspired version of the Beatles’ Come Together.  To say that this guy knows his way around a guitar is a massive understatement.  Entertainment of the very first order.

So yet another brilliant Sunday afternoon completed – good beer, great company, wonderful atmosphere and some stunningly good music.  It’s what life’s all about in my book – stuff Monday!

So if you’ve not poked your nose around the door of The Southgate yet, I strongly suggest that you do so.  There’s gigs on various Fridays and Saturdays too but, for me at least, Sundays just have that edge.  And your next chance to experience just what I mean is in a couple of Sundays’ time, when Jon Amor returns to his monthly residency with his trio and another musical guest.

Future gigs at The Southgate:

Saturday 29th October  Barrelhouse

Saturday 5th November  41 Fords

Sunday 6th November  Jon Amor + Friends ft Ben Waghorn (sax)


As Cool as an Eddie Martin; Blues at The Southgate

It was a typical, standard Saturday night at Devizes Southgate, but a typical and standard night at the Gate equates to an absolutely blinding night in most other pubs……

Amidst friendly faces, welcoming staff and warm familiar surroundings, the unpredictable drizzling autumn was set aside for Mr Eddie Martin to group with the finest drum and bass section to grace the alcove, Tom Gilkes and Jerry Soffe respectively. And together they blasted us full in face with some sublime three-piece electric blues. An unchanged formula for decades, because it works.

Though Eddie himself is diverse, the last time I saw him he was solo, filling gaps between bands in at The Wiltshire Blues and Soul Club’s grand evening at the Corn Exchange, where clad in golden suit he executed vintage blues akin to Muddy Waters. A high accolade it may well be but fully deserved. With full horn section he went for the big band style recently at the Long Street Blues Club, but here at the Gate, he’s truly rocking the electric blues, in DMs, black jeans and one too many shirt buttons open. He can do this, with apt blue shades and shaved head he looks the part, and certainly sounds it.

With a few blues covers, but nothing immediately recognisable or cliché, Eddie mostly rolled out original tracks from his plethora of albums, in a suitcase at his feet. This matched the appreciation of the slight but blossoming crowd. It was, in short, electrifying yet cool as a cucumber; an electrified cucumber, if you will. In fact, I could skewer the idiom to cool as an Eddie Martin!

Nimble on the strings, with extended instrumental breaks of mesmerising proportions, he polished those songs right there before our very eyes, and it was something to behold. I believe, if memory serves me well, my top drunken exclamation was a rather Punch and Judy, “that’s the way to do it,” because it is.

Not that this was the night I had planned, intentions were to get to Bath for a bit of ska and boss reggae with Ya Freshness, but difficulties with non-existent public transport meant I’d have to drive, and being I’ve galivanted elsewhere the past few weekends, sometimes one desires a few too many ciders, where everybody knows your…erm, cue classic American sitcom theme, because it’s apt. The Southgate is that dependable tavern, which hasn’t failed me yet, and neither on this occasion either.

Eddie, a local bluesman of international calibre knows exactly what he’s doing, Devizes renowned blues circuit love him for it. Not only does he know his way around a guitar, but he also even attaches his harmonica holder stylishly and he knows how to rouse a crowd. Which means I don’t make comparisons to blues legends lightly, but justifiably, and the thought hangs on the Howlin’ Wolf. Needless to say, I had a great night, and even flagged a taxi home with ease, cool as an Eddie Martin, what is this now, 2019? No one gets an unbooked taxi in a rank at midnight in Devizes anymore; luck is a lady!


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Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts; A New Chapter

Threw my cards on the table, and pitched being Father Christmas at Devizes Winter Festival, but was informed that was arranged by the Town Council…. so, that’s that idea well and truly quashed! It was great, though, to meet Annabel, one half of the new management team of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts, to chat on changes and new visions for carnival and the various other annual town events they organise……

It’s been an autumn since I quizzed former DOCA artistic director, Loz, on whether she had a say on choosing people for the role. I was glad her reply confirmed this, through fear fond events like the street festival might get all ‘village fete.’ Make no mistake, keyboard warriors on social media were quick to sound negativity on decisions taken by DOCA recently, but I’d argue Loz justified these rightfully, did an outstanding job stamping her own mark on DOCA. This came to an apex at this year’s street festival, with the mind-blowing Ceres display telling the Ruth Pearce story, something I’d dub Loz’s farewell gift to Devizes. Annabel was due to be production manager on the project, but caught covid, though she praised Baseline Circus who staged it, explaining she’d worked with them before and would use them again for DOCA.

And that’s where we open said episode, continuing from Loz’s input. I’m partly aware of Annabel’s past experience on the festival circuit, I was as pleased as punch to hear she’s taken on the role, and I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA. If one reaction to changes made, such as moving the dates of summer events to spread the workload and effort, not forgoing allowing time for schools to participate better, was this rather insular notion Loz was not from the area. Rather I liked this aspect, Loz bought in acts we otherwise may never have known. Put your pitchforks away, Annabel really is Devizes born and bred. The role though has been split into two, as Bristol-based Ashley takes the artistic side responsible for booking acts; best of both worlds.

“Ashley and I really love that she split the job between us,” Annabel began, “you’ve still got the element of someone who’s got their finger on the pulse of the artists, and I’m from Devizes. But though I’m based here, I’ve got the experience of twenty years of doing different festivals!”

I asked her what festivals, Boomtown, Glastonbury, I knew of. “All of them really,” she responded, “Secret Garden Party, Leeds Festival, and over winter I’ve been working in Edinburgh, so, Hogmanay and their street party. So, quite a lot of variety, but I always come back here.”

Not beating about the bush, my first question was on Street Festival, because personally it’s my favourite! I love that we get these colourful and lively carnival type bands full of brass and blend of gypsy ska-folk type shenanigans, but I’m also keen to suggest the event also highlights local musicians too. I’ve also heard criticism of lengthy changeovers on the stage, where Loz expressed it was to allow for the circus sideshows, of which the sound of would be drained out by bands on stage.

This idea was met in 2019 when Vinyl Realm funded and organised a fantastic second stage, my vision is now driven towards getting local acts on the main stage, rather than it being a ‘bolt-on.’ My pitch suggests if we host a number of acoustic acts between main bands, it wouldn’t drown out the circus acts, would satisfy bar loiterers, and it would highlight our local circuit to an audience who perhaps doesn’t make it out to our pub-venues. I’m pleased she made a note of this, though it was perhaps better put to Ashley, who wasn’t present. “Ashley’s got some great ideas on that,” Annabel replied, “about bringing in different types of acts from different places, and also keeping it accessible locally as well.

She toyed with this word, ‘accessible’ extending it to what’s important to her, “particularly in participation, whatever form that takes, whether it’s volunteering, attending, or performing, I want to make it accessible, finding out what will make it easier for people to enjoy it and in taking part as well.” Fire in the hole, golden opportunity for my summary on people’s, often passionate, feelings about the events, is it’s that delicate balance of pleasing everyone. “That’s the difficult bit,” Annabel confessed, “unfortunately you’re never going to please all the people all of the time, however I think by listening to people and communicating, would really help.”

And in fact, they’ve done precisely this, an online “carnival consultation” survey, which is still open, so too early to analyse results. Based solely on carnival, “because,” she explained, “I think there’s a particularly strong feeling DOCA wasn’t always listening to the people of Devizes, which they were to a certain extent, but maybe the communication wasn’t there, so we’re trying to make it as clear as possible, by opening it up and allowing people to have their say.” Annabel moved onto lower participation levels recently, due to difficulties of the pandemic era being “something we’d really like to address, and find out how we can make it easier for everyone.” A meeting about the results of the survey will follow, and really, you cannot ask for a better response than this, in my humble opinion!

There was one Facebook rant recently, comparing Devizes carnival with Pewsey’s, something I felt a tad unfair as Pewsey’s renowned reputation has taken decades to build, and a carnival is formed by people, Pewsey works because everyone comes out to play. “It takes an awful lot to get it to that level and keep it continuing,” Annabel mused, “it’s not a straight forward thing to do, and throwing in the spanner of a couple of years of nothing happening, and, yeah…” I trailed back to the tricky subject of satisfying everyone.

“The way we want to move forward is taking away the concept of us and them,” she expressed, “it’s all of us together, and that collates what you said as well, it needs to be something that everyone can feel they can get onboard with and get involved with, whether it’s something they’re already familiar with, or shared love of something new.”

If only those so quick to criticise could see, what I described as an iceberg, whereby it’s equal in size underwater as it is above, the inner-working of what it takes to stage these huge town events, they’d not, as dubious they do, take it somewhat for granted. Volunteering at this year’s street festival, which might’ve ended with me just clearing bins, opened my eyes to the mammoth task.

“Yes,” Annabel agreed, “and when you’re doing a good job, it’s when people don’t realise what’s going on behind the scenes, the amount of pre-planning, private funding, all of that sort of thing to bring it together, it’s a huge amount, especially these days when you’ve got all the red tape, but we trying to open it up, find out what’s going to make it easier for people to get involved, and do something about it. There’re a few different ideas we’ve outlined in the consolation, one idea was a ‘makers week,’ which could be weeks prior to carnival, where people who want to make something for carnival can come together and learn different skills.”

‘Together’ was becoming a word of the day, Annabel talking a lot on widening the volunteer spectrum to an almost ‘festival training core’ concept, and between this and her parenthood reasons for wishing to reduce her, what she described as “nomadic” festival life and be based here, “because I just love it,” is whyI came away positive from our chat.

The Winter Festival will be the proof in the pudding, Annabel and Ashley’s first DOCA event; had to wonder if this was possibly the most difficult of them to find a balance. “It’s all systems go,” she replied, “but I’m really excited about it already,” then told of the anticipation surrounding school’s lantern workshops, adding methods for creating similar enthusiasm for carnival.

For some unexplainable reasoning, I commenced waffling about Glastonbury festivals of yore, the different the weather makes, and we settled returning the conversation back to the beginning; changes, after Annabel spoke of Winter Festival’s indoor craft markets. “it’s difficult,” she responded, “but times do change. There’s a lot to be said for tradition, but a lot also to be said for new experiences; it’s about finding the right balance between the two, and making it work for as many people as possible, for the right reasons.”

As I said, I came away from our chat at New Society positive this opens a new chapter for DOCA, and I sincerely wish Ashly and Annabel the very best with their roles in our delightful carnival committee.


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Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 19th- 26th Oct 2022

Here’s our weekly summary of things to do over the coming week. It saves you surfing every individual event calendar, and saves me waffling on about some unrelated rubbish, which I admit I have a tendency to do, but in the words of the great philosopher, KC, and, of course, his Sunshine Band; that’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it…… oh, I’m doing it again aren’t I?!

Onwards, not forgetting further details and links can be found on our event calendar, it’s too time consuming adding them a second time, and besides, there you can scroll away until your heart’s content, planning future weekends.


Best way to kick off live music early is Swindon’s experimental dub duo, Subject A, are at The Bell on Walcott Street, Bath, on Wednesday 19th; consider it highly recommended. Meanwhile, Beth Nielsen Chapman plays The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Thursday 20th sees a Very Hungry Caterpillar, on show at Neeld Hall, Chippenham.

Mr Love & Justice are at The Beehive, Swindon, Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage at Chapel Arts, Bath. But the link to Faustus at Salisbury Arts Centre seems to be broken, unsure if that’s still going ahead.


Friday 21st and Trowbridge’s Pump is the place to be, Matt Owens of Noah & The Whale headlines, with the amazing Concrete Prairie in support.

The magical Lady Nade plays Pound Arts, Corsham, The Little Unsaid at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Hatepenny at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, The Reservoir Hogs at The Old Ham Tree, Holt. And in Marlborough you’ll find @59 at The Wellington, and the incredibly good fun, Dr Zebos Wheezy Club at The Bear.

That just leaves me with the tributes, Queen tribute, Majesty at Melksham Assembly Hall, while Fleetwood Bac are at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Devizes, I have got nothing at all for this Friday, unless you know different? When near-on every known pub in town put live music on last Friday night, with a guaranteed crowd-puller from Longcroft at the Corn Exchange too! This town isn’t a competition, guys, please try to coordinate, through us, if you like, but it works better for you all if we do. Rant over!


Swiftly onto Saturday 22nd, it’s Trowbridge Carnival, plus Lego Club at Chippenham Museum, free and at 3-4pm every Saturday; everything is awesome!

There’s an evening of Irish classics with Asa Murphy and Shenanigans at the Devizes Corn Exchange, and the unmissable Eddie Martin Band is back for some blues at The Southgate.

Daz n Chave at Neeld Community & Arts Centre, Chippenham sounds a laugh, and there’s a Melksham Rock n Roll Club dance this week, with Glenn Darren & The Krewkats.

Full-Tone Orchestra presents their Symphonie Fantastique at Marlborough College, and if you check the quote on the poster, yes, I said that! It’s always nice to be quoted, on the rare occasion I say something nice, that is!

Sheer are down the Trowbridge Town Hall, putting on Lucky Number 7 and the Lindup Brothers, with promising local teen band Boston Green in support. Meanwhile The Forgetting Curve play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. A tribute to Pearl Jam at The Vic, Swindon, Earl Ham, and Tundra plays The Woodland’s Edge.

But if you want to boss the night away with some serious skanking, I cannot recommend Bristol’s legendary ska and reggae skinhead, Ya Freshness, of Strictly Rockers Records enough, who is with his Big Boss Band at Odd Down Football Club in Bath. Fiver a shot for a cracking knees up. In fact, what the heck, let’s make this one Editor’s Pick of The Week!

For a mellower experience in Bath, try The Tom Petty Legacy at Chapel Arts.

The Grief Opera, Love Goes On at St Andrew’s, Chippenham, Shift Social presents I Was Born in the Wrong Decade at Salisbury Arts Centre, and a Vintage Bazaar is followed by Moments of Pleasure, The Music of Kate Bush, at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.


Halloween Scavenger Hunt at Hillworth Park on Sunday 23rd October, PSG Choir hold an autumn concert at Devizes Town Hall, and the Chas Thorogood Trio play an afternoon session at the Southgate.

Kavus Torabi, Richard Wileman & Amy Fry at The Vic, Swindon, Richard and Amy appear on our Julia’s House compilation album, show them your support if possible. Always in for a great night with the Joh Amor Band, who play The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon. And oh, CSF wrestling at the Cheese & Grain finishes our weekend off.


Got nothing through the weekdays I’m afraid, but lots of updating to the calendar still to do, so check in from time to time. That is, of course, until Wednesday, the 26th, when White Horse Opera presents L’elisir D’amore at Lavington School, which is running until 29th October, and also running on the same dates, Female Transport at the Rondo Theatre, Bath.

And that’s your lot for this week, can I go now?!


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REVIEW – Black Sabbitch@ LSBC, Corn Exchange, Devizes – Friday 14th October 2022

Awesome!

Andy Fawthrop

The Long Street Blues Club season is now in full swing, giving us a second gig within a week, and with several more to come before Crimbo.  Last night was a switch of nights to Friday from the usual Saturday, and of venue from the usual Con Club to the more intimate surroundings of downstairs at The Corn Exchange in The Bin.

Our treat for the night was Los Angeles-based all-female tribute band Black Sabbitch.  They’re now coming towards the end of their Autumn UK tour, and so they were already at full tilt as they hit D-Town.  They served up a stonking two-hour, one set performance that was brim-full of energy, enthusiasm (and volume) as they ploughed through all things Black Sabbath.

There was no support act, nor was any needed.  It would have been a thankless task for anyone to do the warm-up for a band like this.

Right from the outset we had that trademark loud and grinding rhythm section, provided by Angie Scarpa on drums and Melanie Makaiwi on bass.  To be honest, you couldn’t so much hear the bass as feel it, with every deep note seeming to seep right out of the floor.  Good vibrations – oops, wrong band, but you get the point!  Lead guitar featured Emily Burton, and the line-up was completed by Alice Austin on vocals and (occasional) keys.  What followed was a master-class in paying homage to a very British band by four very talented and committed musicians.  The Sabbath fans were there in numbers, cheering every intro and mouthing the words to every song.

Picking up some of the doom-laden back-catalogue, they managed to lift the old material and make it shine somehow brighter.  I wouldn’t necessarily count myself as the country’s greatest Sabbath super-fan, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by how the band managed to nail every number.

It was a rousing set, capped by two well-deserved encores, finished out by (what else?) “Paranoid”.  The only thing wrong with it was that it didn’t last longer!

Another great night – an awesome gig.

Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 5th November 2022                     Robbie McIntosh Band

Friday 11th November 2022                        Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th November 2022                   Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You