Thoughts About George Ezra at Trowbridge’s Civic

Yes, I did, thank you; and what a brilliant show it was last night when George Ezra came to Trowbridge!

Consider the punks, who spat at conformity, consumerism and society’s esteem of pop culture, are now near, if not pension age, when digestating the derisions and jeers from a few when I told them “I’m going to see George Ezra.” Marketed commercialisation, yeah, I get that; if for the pre-gig meal we frequented the golden arches, I was more than disappointed my “Italian Stack” was just a cheeseburger with rocket salad and pesto sauce. I mean, who puts a pasta sauce on a burger, adding insult to injury what with the broken milk shake machine, my only guilty pleasure from Ronald?

For them though, I bid they take heed of my anecdote more than those who attended George Ezra at Trowbridge’s Civic Centre yesterday, which, like many of my yarns, begins with me spending a penny. Upon my return to the hall, in which we were instructed in this record-breaking heatwave to “squeeze in as tight as possible,” a few had gathered behind my teenage girl posse. With my customary irony I nudged in front, “make way, responsible adult coming through!” only to note I’d obscured the view of a young girl behind me.

The expression of anticipation at seeing George Ezra drained from her face, unacknowledging now she’d only see the back of a podgy middle-aged parent in a Batman t-shirt. But before she could completely well-up, I promised to stand aside as soon as he came on stage, but if I moved now someone not so willing might push in. Though she doubted my conviction, I did retreat from my position, her parents expressed their gratitude. The space my belly once occupied ample for her to sing and dance her heart out, which she did, and her expression of sheer joy made my night.

Because, while George and his band may’ve only blasted a job-and-finish half-hour set at us, damn it the guy puts some umph in. Honestly, he’s like the geek of a Saturday supermarket job who really puts his all into shelf-staking. Professionally executing the placid and sincere pop star persona, the guy convinced me he’s the genuine article, finding time to box-in his every known popular tune. Sure, playing through his new album The Gold Rush Kid, was a pointless marketing exercise, being the ticket price included a copy of it, but there was everything there you’d expect from an upcoming musician and none of the bravado of celebrity; passion, drive, and even some narrative of backstory.

But for his best efforts, I owe it to the little girl in front of me, and every other screaming teenager or child, to express what a superb evening it was, her mien said it all. For it was never about anti-corporatism critics, rather the rare opportunity for youths to see a popstar in the flesh, in Trowbridge, which would otherwise cost the parents something quite unaffordable in tickets and travel costs.

Doubtless this was The Civic’s finest half-hour, though structured without encore, for less than a purple one, we got our money’s worth in George and his band’s dynamic performance; worth the hassle of fastest-finger first ticket booking system, which sold out in seconds of going online, queuing in the heat only to be squashed in like sardines, but perhaps not the no drinks policy profiteering attitude, which saw the bar closed and only bottled water they sold allowed. Maybe laws have changed without my knowledge, but I assumed not providing free drinking water was unlawful, and even if not, it’s safety and basic etiquette poorly overlooked by The Civic.

Yet we owe it to Marlborough’s music shop, Sound Knowledge for this most excellent show. Must be best part of quarter-of-a-century Roger has been the best purveyor of records around these backwaters, and stayed afloat through this technology-changing era by hosting these fantastic album marketing gigs. Usually based in the shop itself or in the club opposite, it’s bought many an upcoming act to Marlborough, including Ezra in 2014. The only other time a band has been too big to fit in was when they shifted Rag’N’Bone Man to the College campus, but George was too bigger name, even for this venue, causing the organisers to add a matinee at the Civic.

But usually, there’s a post-gig meet-and-greet opportunity, something though we took our CDs we had to accept would’ve sadly been unviable due to the vast number of attendees. And that, in a nutshell, whitewashes any niggly criticisms, because maybe restrictions have to be set in order to pull off an event of this magnitude, perhaps you do have to shout orders at the crowd and search children’s bags in this day and age. Even though this isn’t what I’m used to, I was happy in the knowledge that for many there, this was not just a golden opportunity, but a first-time concert which will live in their memories forever.

It got me thinking of my first ever gig, about the same age as my daughter and her friends now. To set the bar high, it was Bruce Springsteen, and, George, sorry mate, but through rose-tinted specs, while you weren’t quite that good, you were totally amazing. Proof of this goes along the lines of me mumbling the words to Shotgun all day today, the profound effect is unimaginable for those younger, if it got this grumpy old git inspired!               


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Indecision’s Final Incursion of Devizes Corn Exchange

The grand finale of popular local covers band, Indecision stormed Devizes Corn Exchange last night, Saturday 21st May, for one last hoorah. A hugely successful turnout in the-hard-to-fill Ceres Hall……

From Seend Beer Festival to Potterne Cricket Club’s, Indecision has been a firm favourite for many-a-year now, playing across the south west from Bromham’s long lost Owl community centre to as far away as Portsmouth, the six-piece Potterne-based band have demanded many to the dancefloor, but last night the time was nigh to say farewells.

Keyboardist Martin Spencer, who also owns Potterne’s Badger Set studio, gave me a never-say-never shrug when I asked him if it was really the end, but for now, he assured me it was.

They came out all guns firing, kicking off with Otis Redding’s Hard to Handle, and preceded to knock out every timeless classic you could name, weaving from Johnny be Goode to The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary as if they were recorded in one session! There were nuggets of phone torch waving, particularly adroit was The Stereophonics’ Dakota.

Here is, essentially, a function covers band, but if you had them at your function it’d make it night to remember. Proof of this was evident in the huge crowd, with such a wide demographic, it seemed like everyone who had ever attended a function or event where they had played descended upon Devizes’ Market Place, and in knowing what was coming, flooded the dancefloor in anticipation. That’s one mighty accolade.

Yes, they smashed the predictable, and cliché covers apexes at Wonderwall, a point lovers of original compositions will no doubt sigh at, but for a covers band, it sure was accomplished, and they stood confident and experienced, raising funds for the Fatboys Charity and Wiltshire Rescue.

For me personally, my impressed expression didn’t falter, at times though I felt this collective had the skill and ability to create some tunes of their own, but in this consider they know their audience and give them what they want; they came here to dance the night away to the tunes they love, and who am I to deny them their enjoyment?

But I confess, I slipped out for a short while, for a pint down the Gate, because my focus and first love is the creativity of an original act, and there’s only so much disco swinging classics I can handle, no matter how skilfully handled. This, coupled with the fact I knew no one there, astonished as to how they can ram such a vast venue and not see one recognisable mug of town’s usual live music aficionados.

The audience reaction was upstanding, as if the Beatles were on stage, ergo my dilemma is to rate this highly upon the tenet just because it wasn’t wholly my cuppa, Indecision do what they say on their tin. Disgruntled at what appeared to me to be a village-fashioned clique with some audience members, upon trying to take an empty seat for the temporary moment I wished to sit, as this was so danceable, I was waved off with a warning the seat was reserved, despite the fact no one was obviously sitting on it, as if I was going to take the chair with me; bit weird and uncalled for, an eighties cheesy nightclubber come of age?! No, kind sir, I didn’t look at your girl!

Still I intended to return, but when I did the band had finished and a DJ was spinning Tiffany and other terrible pop mush, but they liked it, and that’s what’s important here, sadly I winced and escaped! Which was a shame, Indecision certainly tore the house down, were professional and beguiling, and I hope raised some serious wonga for the charity. Ah, the fault isn’t there’s, it’s all me! A massive congratulations to Indecision for staging a vibrant evening, of which the delight of their audience reviewed itself.


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The Dark Horizon of Sam Bishop

Oh, for the rolling years since Devizes Sixth Form-Hardenhuish collaborated boy band 98 Reasons, time cannot stand still, we know this, we still see the bassist of which, Finely, on the local circuit with cousin Harvey as the Truzzy Boys, and as frontman of astounding mod-rock covers band The Roughcut Rebels. And occasionally we hear from his partner in the duo spin-off Larkin, Sam Bishop, it’s good to hear from him again with an awesome new EP, Dark Horizons; out now……

While still studying music over in Winchester, his unique brand of pop, while momentously contemporary, didn’t agree with me personally one occasion, a couple of years ago, and he took it on the chin; I have to be honest. If something definably “pop” doesn’t agree with my grumpy aging expectations it doesn’t make it bad, just means I’m too old! He rebuked any past criticism with a sublime last EP homing more auditory on my cabbaged ears, but here’s a young singer and musician who just keeps getting better.

Honestly, cast off any doubts, Dark Horizons is another massive progression, enriched with euphoric soundscapes, some often dark in subject, as the EP title suggests, yet all uplifting. It plods open with digital notes, Same Stars, and I’m nodding approval; love it. There’s contemporary pop on offer here, bleached with William Orbit or Moby style soundscapes.

Yet the second track, Playing in Shadows transcends the previous for retrospective influences, think eighties electronica, especially on the intro, virtually Kraftwerk! Yet again, nothing is passé no matter how far the basslines and synth-pop arch back for recollections, as the vocals roll with repetitive elegance, stirringly upbeat and ultramodern, Years And Years fashion.

Clearly there’s vast experiments washing like waves onto the beachy mind of Sam Bishop, yet by the third tune out of four, Stay Close, we hear the accustomed acoustic croon of Sam, a floating love-song which builds with a subtle aforementioned ambience, but essentially retains the guitar riff over chanting backing vocals. It’s the standout track you might’ve been suspecting when you clicked on the link, if aware of Sam’s past work, but herein lies the point; the EP in general a massive advance forward, looking headlong rather than rearward.

To confirm this progression, here’s Sam a few years ago with a drumstick up his nose, of which he’ll kill me for posting!

The finale, Backroads has a piano riff, building into current pop with elegance, like a lot of Sam’s themes it relies on life’s directional decisions, yet it delves deeper into trialling and investigation both musically and lyrically, which intertwine in such a way I’ve not felt so connected to Sam’s solo work than this wonderful EP previously. And before you suggest, that’s cos you is, like, getting old, brah, I’ll have you know I get my teenage daughter DJ on car journeys, so I may not have the gen Z patois of a roadman but I know my Cardi B from my Ariana Grande, and this is as a blend akin to what The Weeknd and The Kid Laroi are putting out; sick, apparently!

ALBUM LINK HERE


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A Gecko in Trowbridge Town Hall

It’s always a warm greeting as you enter Trowbridge Town Hall, even if, like me on this occasion, you’re running late…..

Prior to my arrival I digested the fact I’d likely forgone the supposed support act, Gavin Osborn, but was dammed if I’d miss Gecko, as since reviewing his sublime second album Climbing Frame back in October 2020, I’ve been aching with the understandable desire to see him pull it off live.

Mellowed piano song oozed from the humble hall ahead, oh no, I figured, Gecko has already begun. Such it is that Gavin recently resigned event coordination at the hall to the capable hands of then sound engineer, Kieran Moore, I assumed he was billed as a kind of farewell to his previous position, unmindful I’d emerge from the Hall a Gavin Osborn fan too. Even by the evening’s culmination I was also dubious of suggestions the two were collaborative, or if it was just banter between them.

But it seems a tag-touring-team is a reality, and given I’d mistaken Gavin for Gecko in the vestibule, who could be more apt to work with for the reptilian-named poet-esque singer? For luckily, Gavin was still on the subtle stage, virtually stripped bare of instrumentation save a banjo, microphone, music stand and randomly placed hardback chair.

Yet a guy looking remarkably like photos I’d used of Gecko accompanied him on a piano, tucked away by a side door. After the song I’d made my stealth entrance to was over, the pianist sat behind me. Uncertain glances behind affirmed, if there was a gecko in the room it was undeniably him, giggling at Gavin’s witty prose. I suppose this, coupled with their styles so similar I mistook the pair, should’ve been damming evidence this was more than a headliner and support act thrown in for sentiment, but what can I defend myself with, naivety caused by surviving on powernaps?!

In this, is the delight of the communal venue too. If there’s a stage green room it’s unused every time I visit; awaiting performers merge into the audience. This is no venue for egotistical celebs, and with barely raised stage and modest lighting, it’s a non-gimmick venue which bases solely on performance rather than dazzling affects. Professionalism and proficiency given, if you can hold an audience spellbound with such minimal affects and props.

Both did with bells on, and while I suspected the case with Gecko, Gavin was the surprise element. Akin to Gecko, Gavin is more storyteller than singer, though splices of prominent points were executed through great folky vocals, and highly amusing prose. Unlike Gecko, Gavin’s baseplate is folk, who through exceptionally crafted verse reminded me of the sentimentality of our own folk hero, Jamie R Hawkins.

Perhaps more akin to Beans on Toast, lacking Ozzie tinge, through observational narratives he weaved through subjects with spellbinding accuracy, hinging on familiarisation; I identified with many, particularly the amusing banjo led ditty of an aged fellow sneaking out to gigs while his wife seemed blissfully unaware in her slumber! But with heart-melting twists, Gavin wraps them up amusingly, either echoing retrospective contemplation or hinting at his political stance.

Time for Gecko’s opening song; could be anything less than the hilarious start of his album, Can’t Know all the Songs, which counteracts those who shout requests. Virtually unplugged he executed highlights of the album acoustically, and gave us unheard of tunes too, passing off his lack of backing as witty repartee. Such as pausing the song to switch from singing to kazoo during an amusing and uplifting tale of the Tamworth Two pigs, Butch and Sundance, who escaped their fate at a Malmsbury abattoir in 1998.

On this note it’s appropriate to highlight the major reason Gecko is so utterly entertaining, for not through particular quality of musician, though he is a natural, rather his choice of content and subject is so original, and his method of metaphorically weaving it into a more general point. Who writes a song from the POV of escaping pigs, or a dog sent into space? But better still, who can bend such narrative into a point you identify with? It’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, in song.

It’s a classic formula attributed to authors rather than songwriters, and Gecko reigns as either, acting with pseudo-confidence, encouraging audience participation to save him hiring a gospel choir, planning out a cliché encore by hiding behind the piano, even submitting profit margin differences between buying his CD here and streaming his music.

I think I put too much emphasis on hip hop in my album review, as his rap-fashion tendency contradicts his indie-pop overall, making it his unique style, part nerdy, part too cool for skool, but through stripped back live performance it is clear his devotion is with the latter, indie-pop acoustic goodness. A fashion with ageless attraction. But whatever pigeonhole you opt for, it’s undeniably entertaining.

If I’ve an only criticism the show was too short, the comeback is both Gavin and Gecko can suck you into their stories so time passes unnoticed, coupled with my late arrival of which I’ve only myself to blame!

Another wonderful evening at Trowbridge Town Hall, building a reputation for introducing a variety of interesting and upcoming acts, affordably; you need to be putting future dates in your diary.


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Swindon’s New Tribute to the Blockheads; Dury Duty

On the eve of a new tribute act fronted by Swindon’s Mark Colton, he tells me “Dury seems to be a forgotten genius and the blockheads are an amazing band still. We just want to remind people of what a great showman he was, and what great songs there are……”

I find myself pondering on Dury’s virtuosity, influence and why it’s popularly considered underrated. True, the meandering and wishy-washy narrative of Matt Whitecross’ 2010 biopic, Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll, didn’t do much justice, but his funeral, a decade prior to the film, saw a handful of celebrities, keen on honouring the mysterious persona of Ian Dury. From Mo Mowlam and Robbie Williams to Madness, the latter of whom occupied a similar place in the nation’s heart as Ian Dury and the Blockheads did a few short years prior.

A posthumous national treasure, in death he achieved what his dark and edgy character prevented him from accomplishing, a Times obituary praised the singer’s “Swiftian satirical streak” and acknowledged his “lasting place in the corpus of the English popular song.” If The Blockheads’ pseudo-fusion of jazz into punk didn’t wash with the atypical punk movement, it certainly scored them some hits, and anyway, when did punk itself ever adhere to “fit in?”

Ian Dury

To take onboard recent trends in British unpremeditated, often jokey street rap, the kind The Streets, Lily Allen and Kate Nash rinsed, Dury popularised that poetic verse, to consider post-punk’s more jazzy moments, The Blockheads reigned supreme, but perhaps the synthesis doesn’t pigeonhole them for a majority to realise the strength of their influence on pop.  

Swindon’s newly formed six-piece Dury Duty is dedicated to the songs and performance of legendary band leader and raconteur Ian Dury, rather than recent Blockheads reformation. This combo of experienced musicians strives to recreate the sound and feel of a genuine Ian Dury concert, drawing from material found within his solo output, his work with The Kilburns, The Blockheads as well as other side projects.

“I have decided to follow my heart and do the projects I have always wanted to do,” Mark explained, “including this one. The initial set features the sort of set around the time Do it Yourself would have been released, lots of songs from New Boots.”

Mark Colton

Colton leads in Thin Lizzy tribute, The Lizzy Legacy, temporarily fronted ska covers band The Skandals, continues in the punk cover band Rotten Aces, and has been gigging solo for a while with a repertoire of two-tone and punk covers. He basically has his fingers in so many pies, it’s tricky to keep up! I asked him if the concentration was solely on Dury Duty now, or if the other original and tribute acts are still in motion.  

“The solo stuff will continue,” he informed, “I have a few projects still on the go. My original material band CREDO is recording our 5th album, Rotten Aces are gigging again from April, after getting a new guitarist. I have a Marillion Tribute too, called Marquee Square Heroes, and the Lizzy Legacy are still active, but less so due to others commitments and of course, Dury Duty. Each band is a different challenge, but they all keep me on my toes!”

Along with the expected big hitters, such as ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’, ‘Reasons To be Cheerful (Pt.3)’, ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, and ‘What A Waste’ forming the backbone of any set, Dury Duty promise “lesser known but equally entertaining nuggets to whet the appetite of any long-time Ian Dury aficionado.”

Mark is joined by Jono Judge – Saxophones, Percussion and Vocals, Michael York – Piano, Keyboards, Guitar and Vocals, Brian Barnes – Guitars and Vocals, Rob McGregor – Drums and Vocals and Ken Wynne – Bass Guitar and Vocals. A self-confessed “talented band of brothers” keen on not only entertaining those familiar with the extensive cannon of this great performer and wordsmith, but to bring new fans to the man. “Ian Dury is sorely missed and his sharp, witty and often cutting observations on the mundane and absurd through his lyrics and poetic verse are carried forward by this.”

Opening gig is at Swindon’s premier venue, Old Town’s Victoria on Friday June 3rd, but are the band ready to roll, should a nearer booking come their way, I asked Mark. “I suspect we would do something if it came up for Dury Duty, but that’s what we are working towards at the moment. We will be looking to get out and get this working, the songs are a pleasure to play.” Got to wish them all the best with the project, being it innovative and crucial for a tribute act find a sustainably eminent niche which doesn’t fall into cliché, and for the reasons of Ian Dury’s elapsed stimulus makes this project exciting local music news.


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Three Crowns and Some People, Like Us

Red level weather warning, they said, only make essential journeys they said, but fail to define the terms of what is essential. Is helping an elderly relative essential, getting to work, or a doctor’s appointment? What about People Like Us playing the Three Crowns, Devizes?!

To those hunting original live music, perhaps not, for this local trio covers is their game, fully aware what will rouse a standard pub crowd, and they do precisely this with such uniqueness and deliver it with such passion, for everyone else it is, totally essential!

To catch Nicky, back on two legs after an injury which I might add, failed to prevent her performing, and behind that faithful scarlet keyboard, Dean at the strings, switching lead to bass guitars, and now skinheaded Pip, (shaved his head fundraising for our Carmela, but seems to like it,) who, even not best postured for delivering vocals, slouched over a cajon, still somehow manages to professionaly grace the moment, is, in the words of the great Yogi Bear, smarter than the average pub covers group.

Putting a finger on why opens a Pandora’s Box, aforementioned drive, skill and professionalism evident in many a covers band. Still, People Like Us submits all these qualities as if a sponge cake, then they add icing. Observing the demographic of the crowd at the Three Crowns holds a clue, every landlord desires a cross section of punter and the repertoire of this trio truly caters for them all.

Short notes I make to jog my gradually degrading memory mystify me this morning, as one simply read, “new song” adding my daughter’s name; she knows it! Silly to have thought it useful at the time, but relevant to my point. Expect a few contemporary among their plethora of pop hits, but an also era-spanning setlist to leave you guessing.

Yep, walked in to an Oasis cover, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, and The Stereophonics’ Dakota particularly adroitly enacted modern indie tearjerkers followed, with eighties electronica power pop such as Together in Electric Dreams, or even The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, blended with this balanced collection. Yet with similar dedication Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters got the breathtaking PLus makeover.

Yet I believe, for People Like Us, no decade within the crowd’s indivdual most cherished era is as off the cards as genres are. They will take you back to the seventies with ELO, Fleetwood Mac, even a possible Abba(?!) covers, and with similar assertion slip in nineties britpop and indie anthems too. Tonight saw plenty of this, wonderful was Take Your Mama, by the Scissor Sisters, but particularly captivating was their rendition of the Cranberries’ Zombie, with perhaps a little too “lite” on riotous version of the Kaiser Chiefs’ classic, but Nicky wowed with authority upon covering Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.

Bottom line is, it makes zero odds what the tune they’re covering is pigeonholed as, they add their stamp, and with banter between songs often verging on near tiffs, they represent reality, comfortable being what’s written on their tin; people, just like us.

Zero multiplied by anything is zero, and that should be a landlord’s percentage of doubt in considering booking this trio, if they wish their punters to return home satisfied they had a fantastic night, for that’s precisely how I’m certain the crowd at the Three Crowns last night feel this morning, perhaps with a shadowing hangover!


Talk in Code; Young Loves Dreamers

Set to release their new single ‘Young Loves Dream’ on Friday 11th February across all digital platforms, Talk in Code are rinsing their inimitable and uniformed sound with anthemic pop goodness; it’s to be expected……

Coincidently, three years and one day ago Devizine reviewed this Swindon indie-pop four-piece’s album, Resolve, with the retrospective angle of eighties power-pop rock, yet subtle nods to indie shifts through the heady nineties. Though as the band progress through four further singles we’ve seen the latter dwindle and this take on a classic eighties sound coming through more and more.

Though Talk in Code is no tribute, this is progressive, refreshingly contemporary and exclusively perfected, a hi-fidelity ambience where instruments simply meld as flawlessly as those eighties’ gods of pop. An era of one-hit-wonders, accepted, but those who succeeded beyond this point did so by creating a defining sound, so no youth would confuse their Spandau Ballet with their Human League, and this is precisely where Talk in Code now stand; nowadays we compare their singles with their previous singles rather than cite influences, because their uniqueness is peerless.  

The reason why, I consider, the band strive with matchless momentum on the local circuit, having headlined three of Wiltshire’s largest music events last year, the big named bookings of pop-fused Mfor at Lydiard Park, the memorable rock for cancer Concert At The Kings and Swindon’s homegrown talent showcase, the Shuffle. Also, it is why Talk in Code have shared billings with Scouting For Girls, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Craig David, SAS Band, 10cc and Lindisfarne, why devotees are dubbed “talkers” and they’ve accumulated 180,000 Spotify streams, or added to over 700 Spotify playlists.

So, this new single, ‘Young Loves Dream’ is of no exception, it gloriously follows the formula, which is, as suggested, key to their brilliance. It booms straight in, breaks when it needs to and reaches an undefinable bridge, flowing nicely with steady BPMs, and a bright, uplifting vibe. As suggested by the title, it’s romantically themed, exploring the hopefulness of youth; an ode to the potentials of initial infatuation, prior to the twists and turns life throws at you. In that, the mood of the enriching instrumentation reflects the vocals sublimely, and will have you pondering that butterfly moment of early romance, you know the kind of emotion which will make you hug the pillow in their absence, as their scent lingers, or, oh, was that just me?!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, all the previous singles we’ve fondly reviewed can be found on this here Spotify link, and with this progressive new track, will make up part of ‘The Big Screen,’ Talk in Code’s second album, due on Friday 15th April, playing the launch at Swindon’s Level 3, Swindon, on Saturday April 16th 2022.

Just prior, I’m hopeful we can set up an interview with Chris and the band, one crucial question will be what’s in a name, as Talk in Code’s style is never cryptic, you need not untangle painstaking poetic wordplay, it is good, honest pop kept simple, and they do it so well it’s mainstream in the making. Love’s Young Dream takes this pattern and truly celebrates it, projecting positive evolution for this radical band.


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The Life of Brian, in Rowde

So, it’s finally come to pass, beginning to look a lot like autumn and a Halloween weekend crammed with events I feel I should attend conflict against the general drizzle looming outside. Having a soaking every morning at work I’m dubious to continue past summery wanders up the hill to Devizes, coupled with my newfound knowledge it’s actually easier to get to the Sham from Rowde via public transport and I really felt like a cider or five.

While I appreciate the killons (that’s a zillon zillions) of invitations I get per weekend, I opted for the easy route and headed for The Cross Keys in Rowde, a local I neglect in pursuit of trekking the county gig hunting, yet which holds many fond memories, including my own wedding reception!

A grand open-plan Waddies, The Keys served the village community with historically a mixed bunch of landlords, some, it must be said, far more dedicated to the task than others. Given an interior paint job complete with retro movie and rock n roll stencils the new owners have recreated the friendly and down-to-earth welcoming atmosphere. They boast a new chef and the continuation of an affordable Sunday carvery, the legacy of the previous owner.

But I’m not here on chance, or for a roast potato; the Rowde landmark opens itself back up for a live music event, and I’ve not heard of the billed “Life of Brian Band.” Promising pop-rock from the sixties to the noughties and boasting the frontman, conveniently called Brian to avoid any Monty Python quips, as a former guitarist for Kate Bush. Okay, I’m game.

Usual wobbly photo from yours truly; always the mark of a good night!

Took a while to kick off, as best things to come to those who wait, plus with their usual drummer absent, Jim from Rowde band Eazilyled made an outstanding adlib performance between this couple of, shall we say, matured and proficient gents, on lead and bass guitars. Eventually cracking open with The Temptations’ My Girl, and following with a plethora of well-defined Beatles, Rolling Stones and Kinks classics, including a wonderfully delivered Waterloo Sunset, Brain and his bass player skilfully executed a grand show of anthemic rock n roll and blues pop covers.

Though there was nothing ground-breaking going on here, it was a rousing and professional sporadic pub band clearly and nostalgically loving every minute of the spotlight. That makes it for me, the sheer expression of bliss and fun, particularly from the bassist. It gives the impression they’re in their element, and they were, rocking out. The couple bouncing off each other with slight banter and dexterous guitarwork, with drummer Jim challenged to improv the next moves from this refined double act, blessed the Cross Keys with an exhilarant evening; here’s hoping for more.

Arguably the noughties where underrepresented, but I don’t believe this mattered one iota to the punters, as Beatles and Stones works for every generation. Plus, alongside we had guaranteed crowd-pleasers from Cream, Free, even the Travelling Wilburys, at times soul with Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave covers, an especially adroit couple of flashes of the Police’s Roxanne and Message in a Bottle, and some memorable moments with the Who’s Squeeze Box and Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly. What they did they do with charm, professionalism and enjoyment, and one can’t ask for more than this.

A blessing to know the Cross Keys is on top form, and I’d welcome more live music nights, encourage Paul, the landlord to get in touch with some recommendations, if he so wishes. Because while one might trek to towns and cities in want of live music, our villages need some love and attention too, saving stranded people some taxi fees or steps on their FitBits!


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The Evolution of Kirsty Clinch

“The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.”

It’s a generation X thing, I’m suggesting, which levels me to downloading an album as the last port of call to actually “owning” something anywhere near physical, against this era of streaming music, sourly missing the fondness of holding a piece of vinyl for all its crackles and jumps. Because owning an album was like a piece of treasure, the cherished keepsake sense you don’t get with streaming, and in review today is exactly the sort of album to be such a cherished keepsake.

Nevertheless, Wiltshire’s adorable country-pop virtuoso, Kirsty Clinch has mastered the art of marketing, and with a drive to succeed, knows precisely through social media, how to gain and keep engaged a modern audience, equally to her exceptional gift as a musician and singer-songwriter. Yes, you could’ve guessed it, her new album Evolution is a masterpiece. The finale of which being aptly a tune called Social Media, which expertly reflects on the image one projects online against the hidden imperfections of reality.

But the ingenuity of marketing is a miniscule element as to why Kirsty manages to reach the fourth position in the iTunes charts in under a few short weeks of releasing her debut album, against the much larger reason that this is the sort of music which doesn’t require pigeonholing, because whatever the angle of your personal taste, you’ll emerge from it thinking; you know what, I like country-pop now.

So, I bite the bullet, stream it on Spotify, like a fledgling, mottled boss, ignoring the invasion of adverts for the sake of hearing an album I’ve held in high anticipation, since she mentioned it to me quite a while ago. If it’s taken time, it’s primarily Kirsty being a perfectionist, and it shows. Nothing here will disappoint or make me doubt the faultlessness of the composition of this album, and in turn, Kirsty’s talent, her picture-perfect balance, in such a way, it’s impossible not to love.

Around and Around’s modest drum makes this song an irresistible introduction, if the astute song writing, complimented by Kirsty’s rich and warming voice, doesn’t, oh but it does. Water’s Running Low continues the quality, confirming you’re in for a beautiful journey, ten tracks strong.

Fit The Shoe, the single we’ve fondly mentioned prior, is hauntingly divine, like William Orbit’s production of Madonna’s Frozen, with a theme of who the cap fits, which is followed by the title track, again, wonderful. Uplifting is the keyword throughout, maintain the balance of sombre yet jubilance. I am Winning, a song of faith in your accomplishments, being a grand example, it drifts over you, as if it’s always been in your life.

Previously there’s always been an obviously and well played out taste of country’s female giants clearly influenced in Kirsty’s songs, of Tammy or Dolly, but here, now, this is wholly Kirsty, it sounds freshly awakened to the junction whereby one day, not far away, reviewers will cite her influence on newer folk artists; that much I’m certain. 

Perhaps the memorable, yet not as quirky as the title suggests, No Cornflakes makes me sigh, are we past the halfway mark already? The only thing disappointing about Kirsty Clinch’s Evolution is, it ends.

But not before I Am Me, a rejected romance theme, breaths the most heart-warming narrative of all, with a trialling drumbeat imposing you to realise her style is contemporary, rather than the genre’s archetypal nostalgia. And three more tunes which never faulters the experience, the catchiest of them being Down, and it ends with the aforementioned Social Media.

In this finale you get the confirmation behind the stunning, echoing voice lies honesty in the song writing, from the heart and soul. And that’s it’s worth, in a nutshell, you feel as if you’re getting a little piece of this performer, who is the whole deal, plus one. Self-managed, produced, save the odd tip and mastering from Pete Lamb, marketed, Kirsty even drew the cover illustration. She puts the young students of her newly opened music school before that of promoting this album, she surely shines, and if you heard her previous songs, seen her perform live, you’ll remain convinced this album, is Kirsty indeed evolving into a shooting star you cannot ignore.


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Scott Lavene’s Milk City Sweethearts

We’ve had a spate of comical albums coming in for review, what with Death of Guitar Pop, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and now this, which is by far the darkest, consequently most poignant. Songwriter and raconteur Scott Lavene returns this Friday (17th September) with Milk City Sweethearts, an album of new material…..

There’s intelligent and thought-provoking arch-beat poetry chatted here, an amphetamine-induced self-evaluation of an ordinary Essex boy, delivered passionately with a witty edge you cannot ignore. Something of an oddity at times, random prose seemingly slotted erratically fall into place with a running theme of this hopeless romantic, as the album progresses.

Behind a variation of backbeats, often being post-punk, as is Scott’s roots, yet fluctuating through new romantic electronica and eighties mod revival, are honest and blunt chronicles of love, loss, coming of age, in effect making for a memorable kind of album, border-crossing Ian Dury with Sleaford Mods; a Mike Skinner of The Streets in the Bowie or Jam era, or a psychedelic Gecko.

Humbly wry, the observations of his imprudent past come back to haunt him, as he retells heartfelt autobiography. The Ballad of Lynsey being the particularly touching example, telling of a potential everlasting love, but lasting only year due to differences, with the revealing chorus, “I choose amphetamines over you.”  

If I’ve made this sound despondent and somewhat depressing, while yeah there is that, Scott’s witty charisma teeters atop at even the gloomiest synopsises with clever wordplay and metaphors. And besides, not every track is quite so melancholic. In fact, it begins very much with the aforementioned mod revival style. Upbeat opening tune, Nigel, is especially comical, expressing the strangeness of individual’s choice of “kicks.” Likewise, The First-Time reels off an amusing list of first experiences with the annotation, “one day there’ll be a last.” It’s all very Essex lad Talking Heads, Phil Daniels chatting on Blur’s Parklife, etc.

Art-pop carries over when the mod revival moves over for a new wave electronica feel as the album progresses, by the third tune, The Earth Don’t Spin, it’s very much more Stephan Tintin Duffy than Weller. For all the credentials and comparisons mentioned, there’s no cliché, everything here is uniquely composed and written originally, and Milk City Sweethearts isa listener, not the sort of long-player you can pause and pick up again, you’ll be impelled to digest it one sitting.

A master storyteller astutely aware of when and how to evoke the correct emotions, and find unusual thoughts to everyday scenarios. The farewell to deceased finale, Say Hello to Zeus, is as Bowie, simply inimitable and inducing. Whereas halfway through gives us the laugh-out-loud Walk Away is Essex humour at its very best.

Closest you’ll get to see him to here is Bath’s Komedia on the 12th December, for now this masterful album, out via Nothing Fancy Records, is interesting, to say the least, an essential item for enthusiasts of the quirky and unusual, making the world seem that much smaller, and amusing, for lonely hearts.

I’m quite happy, thank you, but loved it nonetheless, cos it ain’t always been that way. And that’s it, right there, I figure it’s not only my association Scott is from my motherland, but there’s something I think anyone with a heart will identify with here, and that’s something really rather special.


WIN 2 tickets HERE

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Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?

Pushed forward to Mayday bank hols, who’s getting excited about Devizes International Street Festival? I am, I always am, it’s been the best weekend of … Continue reading “Tree People, a Gold Postman, Tea, Minions, Pet Camels, Red Carpets, Old Time Sailors and More; Who’s Excited About Devizes International Street Festival?”

Everything You Are, Onika Venus

You remember being given some coursework, when back in higher education, with various objectives and your task was to choose one to complete? Not really wanting to do it, you go to the student at the top of the class, and ask them what they’ve done. They reply, “ah, not much,” and this gives you the cue to do absolutely nothing. Then, on the day of handing it in, they’ve unexpectedly produced the single-most awesome project, covering all the objectives in one ingenious combination, and you stand there with zilch, except a jaw hanging and an implausible excuse, which you made up on the bus coming in?!

I’d imagine Onika Venus to be just like that. Now Bristol-based, Jamaican-born Onika plays Trowbridge Town Hall on September 18th, so, given reggae is cited as an influence, I thought I’d check out her debut solo album, Everything You Are, which was released back in March.

The title track was chosen as Songsmith’s Song of the Year 2020, and it’s easy to hear why. I’ve not been this blown away by a female vocalist since discovering Minneapolis’s Mayyadda.

Immediately this pushed my buttons, but if this opening title tune is decidedly acoustic blues, with a distant harmonica resounding in the background, there’s a truckload more going on than the first impressions here.

The premise from the beginning is as simple as, Onika Venus has the prevailing soulful voice to carry whatever genre is thrown into the melting pot, and drizzle it over you like hot sauce. It only leaves you pondering how far she will take it. The second tune I pigeonholed as RnB pop, a contemporary Macy Gray or Erykah Badu, aiming for chart success. When I’m Broken carries this concept to a higher height, and is simply, the model formula of popular music every song should aim for.

Yet, three songs in and here comes the Caribbean influence. Friday Love has a clear mento feel, it’s immediately beguiling, a good-time chugging song in the face the despondent romance theme. This will occur again towards the middle the album with Who’s Been loving You. Again, with Shotgun there’s similar appeal, perhaps the most definable as “roots reggae,” and, for me, they’re the favoured sections.

But it swaps back to the mainstay for track four, steady soul with an orchestrated ambience; Everything has its Season, is the ideal equilibrium to bless that heavenly voice and compose this euphoric moment of bliss. After a surprising modern dancehall intro, we’re back to an acoustic guitar riff for the poignant The Storm, using sax to mitigate jazz. I Need You, though, has kick-ass funk, Ike & Tina Turner in their prime.

With only three tunes to go, just when you think influences have been exhausted, there’s a duet with a male voice, supplied by husband, Mark, Mary, sounds classic Americana, as if Joe Cocker just walked into the studio and said, why don’t you try this?!

To keep you guessing what the last couple of tunes will hold, yeah, folk is strapped onto soul, Reaper Man aches of Aretha Franklin, but by this point you just know Onika Venus can carry this off with bells on. Raising the bar of comparisons is justified, believe me. For when it’s funky I’d give you Randy Crawford, Chaka Khan, and when it levels with acoustic and folk, her voice dishes out notions of reggae heroines, of Phyllis Dillon or Marcia Griffiths, and the gospel finale, yeah, Aretha will be justified, if not Sister Rosetta Tharpe; it is this magnificent.

Yet, unlike all these aforementioned legends, the style here is not monocultured, neither does it jerk from genre to genre without consistency and flow. Onika Venus gives volumes to the eclecticism, and it moulds efficaciously into one melting pot, beautifully. Prior to this solo launch, in a band called Slyde, her voice customised their breakbeat, techno and house style, to great effect, and I can well believe it. The flexibility of her skill is captured here, I’d imagine as comprehensively as she chooses personally, and just as the student who bursts in effortlessly, with the homework complete and to an exceptional standard, Onika Venus makes this look easy!


Win 2 free tickets here!

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Longcoats Get Dancing

Opps, near-on delayed a month due to the amount of work involved with promoting our Julia’s House album, other stuff going on, and generally slacking off in my garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts, I’ve a backlist of music to tell you about, hopefully, before you visualise me slacking off in the garden with my belly hanging over my khaki shorts.

To begin, Bath’s indie-pop favs, Longcoats have an official new bassist, Will Vickery. The band claim he was “a stray man we found on the street and august-rush style he could just hear the music and play it.” Proof in the pudding, I’ll double-bet ya you’ll going to love their new belter, “Get Dancing,” which is, incidentally just what we all need right now.

Will Vickery

Probably why it’s blossoming attention and airtime from the likes of BBC Bristol, Target, Soho Radio, Sheppey FM, New York’s New Visions Radio Network, and even Australia’s Valley FM, and seeing them bookings at Moles, Brighton’s Pipeline, and supporting The Rift at Swindon’s Rolleston.

Just as Pretty in Pink did, which incidentally Longcoats kindly donated to our aforementioned and plugged charity fundraising compilation, (which I’m not going to shut up about until you buy it) Get Dancing is symbolic of the band’s ability to compose such a beguiling and catchy riff it feels like it’s always been in your life after just one listen.

It’s lively, carefree, resides bopping over hopeless romantically conversing, as it says on the tin, encouraging to dance in both sound and theme. And with that, I should take heed, stop writing how great it is and just add the Spotify link so you can hear it for yourself and I can revert back to the building mountain of new music I’ve yet to explore. But rest assured, this one is a keeper, and perhaps true to the word; I should get dancing if I’m ever going to work off this belly hanging over my khaki shorts!


OUT NOW! Various Artists 4 Julia’s House

As a nipper I’d spend days, entire school holidays, making mixtapes as if I worked for Now, That’s What I Call Music! In the era before hi-fi, I’d sit holding a microphone to the radio’s speaker, adventurously attempting to anticipate when Tony Blackburn was going to talk over the tune, and just when In the Air Tonight peaked with Phil’s crashing drums, my dad would shout up the stairs that my tea was ready; eternally caught on tape, at least until my Walkman screwed up the cassette.

Crude to look back, even when I advanced to tape-to-tape, I discovered if I pressed the pause button very slowly on the recording cassette deck, it would slide into the next song, and with a second of grinding squeal Howard Jones glided into Yazoo!! Always the DJ, just never with the tech! Rest assured; this doesn’t happen on this, our Various Artists compilation album, 4 Julia’s House. And oh, have I got some news about that?!

Huh? Yes, I have, and here it is….  

We did it! Thanks once again to all our fabulous contributing artists, our third instalment of detailed sleeve notes will follow shortly, but for now, I couldn’t wait another day, therefore, I’ve released it half a day early, this afternoon!

Now all that needs to happen is to get promoting it, and you can help by sharing news of this on your social media pages, thank you. Bloggers and media please get in touch, and help me raise some funds for Julia’s House.

I’ve embedded a player, in which you should be able to get a full try before you buy, I believe you get three listens before it’ll default and tell you to buy it. I hope you enjoy, it has been a mission and half, but one I’d gladly do again.

Please note: there are many artists giving it, “oh no, I was going to send you a track!” Fear not, there is still time, as I’ll causally start collecting tunes for a volume 2, and when the time is ready and we have enough songs, we will do it. It might be for another charity, I’d personally like to do another raising funds for The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre, but that’s unconfirmed as of yet.

You know, sometimes I think I could raise more money with less effort by trekking down through the Market Place in a bath of cold baked beans, but I wanted to bring you a treasured item comprising of so many great artists we’ve featured, or will be featuring in the near future on Devizine. Never before has all these artists been on one huge album like this, and look, even if you don’t care for a particular tune, there’s 46 of them, check my maths as I pride myself on being exceptionally rubbish at it, but I make that 22p a track, and all for such a worthy cause!


Click for info on Julia’s House

“We are so grateful to Devizine and all of the local artists who are taking part in the charity album to raise funds for Julia’s House. We don’t receive any government funding for the care we give to families in Wiltshire, so the support we receive from our local community is so important.”

Claudia Hickin, Community Fundraiser at Julia’s House

Andy J Williams; Buy all his $tuff!

I’m sure it’ll shock you to hear, I made a technical hitch, best described as a cock-up. It seldom happens, blame my masculinity; the wife often reminds me men cannot multi-task. We featured the indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter Andy J Williams last month, as part of our Song of the Day feature, and I promised to review the whole album “Buy all the $tuff,” which was released at the beginning of February.

Musicians you wait for like buses, then two come along at the same time, and accidently I mind-merged them. Even joked in our Song of the Day post not to confuse Andy J Williams with his namesake senior easy listening giant, then mixed him up with someone else, whose name is nothing remotely similar. The only parallel is they’re both from Bristol, though many are, but being as the other artist’s album involved in this cock-up isn’t released until next week, both got put on the backburner. My virtual to-do-list saved the day; acts as my brain.

Extend a short story longer, here’s an apology to Andy, and a belated review of “Buy all the $tuff,” which is very worthy of not being missed out. To begin with his cohesive band firmly behind him, there’s a Britpop feel, I sensed, vocally, a similarity with Trowbridge’s finest, Phil Cooper, if Phil was aiming for pop. But there’s a lot going on here, influences are wide but mould into each other exceptionally well; a tad tongue-in-cheek at times too. It’s indie on the outer crust, but with a dynamite mantle blending of layers which incorporates funk, new wave post-punk, art-pop, and contemporary electric bluesy-folk, all with equal measure and passion.

Reminisces flood my neurons upon initial listening, of how eighties electronica fused funk into pop, a kind of “funk-lite,” avoiding the substantial seventies untainted funk vibe, and through post-punk new wave, rewrote the club-pop formula. Bands like Duran Duran and Roxette spring to mind, I’d even go as far as Michael Jackson meets Huey Lewis, but while I’m aware there’s a bizarre subgenre called “funk metal,” pleased to report Andy doesn’t get that heavy! This is more like musical cubism, with a skilful composition akin to King Tubby’s mixing board, and it comes out the other end as extraordinarily unique beguiling pop.

Don’t take the opening Britpop track as red, the next, Post Nup, opens up this funk riff, but no matter where it takes you, lyrically this well-crafted too, written with thoughtful prose. There’s topical subject matter amidst the archetypical romance, including the referendum and social media, but no theme distracts from the overall musical presentation. Night Terrors, for example, works opposite to Jon Amor, who uses Elvis Costello pop to create a more frivolous blues, Andy maintains pop by adding elements of electric blues. Then, piano solo, layered with subtle percussion. Andy rinses a fine ballad, undoubtedly the most evoking track on the album, Stay.

Buy This $tuff reaches an apex immediately after, Something to Believe in is masterfully danceable, bathed with handclaps and a funky riff, it is to Andy what Superstition is to Stevie Wonder. From here on, the album takes to this upbeat terpsichore concept. It’s highly entertaining.

Ballads follow, Celia and Now She’s Gone are particularly adroit, but you know Andy isn’t going to end this with melancholy. Be Mine returns to rock as it’s mainstay. Radicalised equally comes in hard, with an electronica feel. And Your Truth Hits Everyone is anthemic, concluding there’s a need to ponder what the Beatles would sound like if still around today, with Britpop, new wave electronica, and clubland techno at their disposal. Through this, I might provide a suggestion.


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Eighties Mod Revival Lost Gem: The Direct Hits

If I waffle positively here, and yes, I do waffle, about retrospection and a trend in sounds trying to be authentically from a time of yore, this one doesn’t need to try. The Broadway Recording Sessions thrusts you rearward into the eighty’s mod revival scene, whether you want to go there or not.

Battersea trio, The Direct Hits may only be remembered by the connoisseur of mod, having one-shot at charting in ’82, when TV presenter Dan Treacy released their song, Modesty Blaise on his Whamm! imprint. The music press hailed this as not just another Jam, crash-bang-wallop mod revivalist tune, and their explosive live shows avowed them pioneers of a “Battersea Beat.”

Whamm were financially struggling to fund an album, so the band pooled their limited resources and booked the cheapest studio time they could find, Tooting’s Broadway Sounds. By the afternoon they had knocked out nine songs, the other three on this album were recorded a fortnight later. It would be two years later when they re-recorded some of these songs for their debut album “Blow Up.”

Now remastered, these lost recordings have surfaced finally, and, with warts and all, show the uncooked spirit of a hopeful mod garage band. I’ve had this playing for a few weeks since it’s late February release, and it heralds the hallmarks of a post-punk return to the basics, which sixties groups like The Kinks and The Small Faces mastered. To expect this yardstick is pushing it, but through all its rawness there’s some beguilingly adroit songs to make you wonder why they wasn’t as their namesake suggests, direct hits!

Perhaps it was that bit too retrospective for the progressive eighties. Because, elements capture neo-psychedelia, rather than soulful eighties mod assigned via The Spencer Davis Group and into bands like The Merton Parkas. That era where the beatnik style was teetering on influencing the pop sound, but Merseybeat was still riding the high ground. There’s a delicate balance here, avoiding things getting too cliché Mamas & Papas, these upbeat three-minute-heroes never fails to kick ass.

Consistently high-spirted and energetic garage sound, yet psychedelically enhanced; think if Syd Barrett’s days spent at Pink Floyd would’ve been spent with The Who instead, and you get the idea. There’s even a bike song, just like on Relics. Lyrically there’s unassuming stories with clear narratives and characters to challenge the Beatles.

A polished rerecording of a track from the album.

Overall, though, you’ve got twelve mind-blowing rarities which perfectly capture a raw moment of youthful optimism for an inspiring band, in an era where everyone felt encouraged to pick up an instrument and give it bash; and they’re good, really good. In a funny kind of way, I see similarities to the now; the forgone passing of DJ culture in a rave new world and tasteless manufactured pop, to an imminent inclination of online DIY indie, I see hopefuls taking to a guitar and giving it a go. Perhaps then, there’s no time like the present for this to resurface.

Buy The Broadway Recording Sessions Here


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Song of the Day 27: Emily Capell

We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, okay, you get the gist. Imagine Kate Nash is Doctor Who’s assistant, and they tracked back to Carnaby Street in 1963. If she dressed and performed without raising suspicion that they’re time travellers, you’ve got a general picture of the fantastic Emily Capell.

On one hand, this is fab retrospective meddling, on the other it’s lively and fresh fun, with a beehive hairdo.

There’s nothing here not to like, unless you’re a ret-con rocker and if so, I’ll see you on Brighton beach, pal. All I ask is you aim for the face, so you don’t crease my suit.

And, that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….. oh yeah, nearly forgot to mention, Emily has a live stream coming up Friday 12th March, here; groovy.


Song of the Day 21: Andy J Williams

Ever just float around your favourite social media site with no objective in mind, to unexpectedly find something which pounces on you as utterly brilliant, and wonder why you’ve not heard about it before?

Took a second of watching this to establish it’s one of those rare occasions, and not just a pointless scrolling exercise for your index finger. You know the kind, where you only see your mate’s unappealing dinner, a wonky, windup political opinion, or video of a young prankster posing as a magician hoaxing eye candy on a Florida beach.

Took a further second to confirm it’s not to be confused with senior easy listening giant, Andy Williams, rather an indie-pop Bristol-based singer-songwriter namesake, but with an added middle J, a penchant for a funky riff and eye for a beguiling tune.

Check this cracking danceable video out, where one could ponder if the middle J stands for “Jacko!”

Not that I’m usually one to allow a cracking video convince me, even with dancing stormtroopers. So, you should note, he’s on his third album “Buy all the $tuff,” of which you can, here. I’m reckoning I need a window to review this fully in the near future. For now it came as big as a nice surprise as spotting an unidentified circular yellow object in the sky this morning, for a near halfhour! Amazing.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on…..


Song of the Day 20: Darling Boy

Self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer and actor, Darling Boy, aka Alexander Gold adds reminisces about his game childhood with this video for his new single “Tea Drinkers of the World.” An unusual move for this brand of indie-pop, but a colourful and entertaining 16-bit retro game fashioned video; enjoy.

And that’s my song for the day. Stream it here. Facebook here. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 17: Diana Leoport

What’s Spanish for “diva?” Oh, Google translate aptly says it’s “diva!”

Super sassy Spanish vocalised RnB-pop doesn’t come sexier than Mexican singer Diana Leoport’s debut single. Aching with masses of Latino promise there’s elements of Shakira and Gloria Estefan in this smooth tune. My glasses have steamed up!

Out on all platforms here.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 12: Darla Jade

Even portions of expressive contemporary pop, the ambience of post-goth and downtempo electric blues of trip hop makes this Staffordshire singer, Darla Jade really someone to watch. With a haunting uniqueness about her voice and style, there’s shards of Evanescence fused with Beth Orton. It’s somehow individually chartable but would also appease alternative rock or goth aficionados alike.

Subscribe to her YouTube channel, hear her own stamp on Radiohead’s Creep, and realise, her talent is so very special.

And that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


  • Hooch on Streaming

    Once a cover band, east Wiltshire’s rootsy four-piece Hooch have moved to writing and recording original material. Their discography goes onto music streaming sites today (Sunday 3rd July,) and if you like your country-rock breezy and uplifting, with a subtle touch of psychedelia and surf, then it’s worthy of your attention…..

    The instrumental Eagle Ray is particularly awash with this aforementioned surf-rock style, while all tracks have this sunny-side-of-the-street, retrospective feel about them. Slowburn, for instance, is good time mid-era-Beatles in nature and Voodoo Hair is outright groovy.

    Well even if you don’t do the streaming platforms you can get a listen direct from their website.Ten tunes on offer here, enough for an album, guys? An album of ten jumpy, anthemic ballads like Sweet Maria would see us fine, this one in particular is a beguiling peach I could imagine fans chanting back at them after only a few listens.

    Live is a bigger part to Hooch, I’m certain you’ll make a beeline for a gig upon hearing these well crafted tunes, they’re at the Seven Stars in Bottlesford Saturday July 16th, tickets are a purple one, I believe this includes a barbecue thrown into the bargin, and a summer mini-fest at the Horseshoe Inn, Mildenhall July 23rd.

    Expect “unusual” covers choices, they say, but I’d argue the cited Depeche Mode, Space and The Coral are apt, this upbeat melodic blend from Martyn Appleford, Nesh Thompson, Simon Dryland and Matt Ryan reflects this, with a dash more roots than perhaps, new wave mod, but with a move to electrification enhacing their acoustic roots, they weave perfect pop simplicity into their lyrics, and that’s where it is to pinning an imitatble, memorable style.

    If the name derives from the late 19th century abbreviation of Hoochinoo, a North American tribe in Alaska renowned for brewing booze, this is certainly fun time drinking music, but the sound is far more matured than its commonly associated brand of alcopop. Ha, whatever happened to that, do they still sell it? It certainly took the brunt of the blame for underage drinking in the nineties, as if they invented the concept and no kid ever tried alcohol before their ingenious bottle of wobbly lemonade came onto the market!

    Sickly sweet though, wasn’t it? Precursor to the Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice, but try the tune Aluna for size, and you’ll see, though there’s elements of the Kinks at their most comical, or subtle Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band at times, it’s a choice for grownups, with no immature persuasion; I love it, and hope they’re encouraged to perform their own tunes live, rather than an all-covers set; the difference between buying spirits and mixing it to your own taste or letting mainstream brewers decide on your sugar levels!


  • Full-Tone Stands Alone

    Full Tone Festival August Bank Holiday then, penny for your thoughts on that one……

    Five irritating wannabes handpicked for their conflicting personalities vote on each other’s dinner parties while a poor man’s Harry Hill narrator insults them in a heavily edited sham of a television show. Yet, despite this perpetual cycle of formulated garbage, Come Dine with Me attracts millions of viewers. It’s the same thing every darn episode; oh, how original, they’re looking in her knicker draw, saucy!

    Give me strength; familiarity is prevalent, between three to five million people slouch in front of The Chase daily, when face it, aside differing questions, it’s monotonous; eat, watch The Chase, sleep, repeat. Still, from a few branches of the grapevine, I’ve caught this tosh: “The Full Tone Festival is the same as last year.” Shut the front door!

    Honest, I feel like tapping them on the head, inquiring, “hello? Anybody in?!” Even if it was the same, which I’m out to conclude it’s not, so if you agree you need not read on, but even if it was, I’d reply, “yeah? Good!” for the simple reason, last year’s was absolutely, off-the-scale fantastic, and nothing, I repeat nothing, around these parts could match it.

    I sincerely hope they’re not the same substandard detractors who hypocritically whine-hole when DOCA, for good reason, change the dates or the route of carnival! I attended the astounding MantonFest last weekend, it was a similar setup as last year, because the formula works, regulars flock to it safe in the knowledge they know what they’re getting, and if it’s not broken…. Face it, most events are samey. Glastonbury might host some different acts annually, but even they have the same stages in the same fields year after year; fresh cowpats, same mud!

    Bottom line is, I’m unsure if it’s possible to improve on the sound, stage and pyrotechnics from last year, unless we forward-wind technology a few decades. The acoustics on that stage were mind-blowing, and if the price-tag is another niggly issue, you could see where your dollar was offloaded. It looked like something out of The Jetsons, didn’t it?! And I hope its shape will become iconic symbolism as to what can be achieved right here in Devizes. As an inimitable annual party, it’s one of a kind around these waters, it’s our ravey-davey Last Night of the Proms! The Full Tone Orchestra toured Bath Abbey, Marlborough College, the Wyvern in Swindon and beyond this year, but what they return home to produce is something really superior, something to congratulate and celebrate.

    Musical director and conductor, Anthony Brown tells us he’s “been looking forward to this year’s festival from the moment I put my baton down last year, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share what we do with so many people. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your musical tastes are, and I guarantee that even those who have never experienced orchestral music before, will leave wanting more!” Summing my angle up nicely; far from a restrictive Proms, last year it opened doors to those otherwise sceptical of the magnificence of an orchestra and changed their preconceptions of them, and that’s a glorious achievement.

    But the biggie still remains, what can we expect from this year’s Full-Tone Festival on August Bank Holiday weekend (27th & 28th August)? The family-friendly music festival promises to be even bigger and better than ever, with two full days of back-to-back music, performed by this spectacular 65-piece orchestra conducted by Anthony Brown, we know and love as the Fulltone Orchestra.

    The programme divides into six orchestral concerts providing the ultimate variety of live music from popular classics, opera and big band to movie themes and huge nineties hits. The grand finale on Sunday evening will see The Green at Devizes transformed into its very own Studio 54, with the orchestra and singers performing a full two hour set of seventies inspired disco classics; oh, that can ring my bell, have I got time to grow an afro?!

    So, if it is as I suggested, impossible to improve on the sound, stage and pyrotechnics, enhancements in the line-up are the logical steps, which has been done. Special guest artists performing on stage include the formidable voice of Jonathan Antoine. A classically-trained tenor, Jonathan rose to fame after appearing on the sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, as half of the classical duo Jonathan and Charlotte. He went solo and his debut album, Tenore, was released in 2014, and subsequently followed with a further two albums.

    Wiltshire’s own presenter and skateboarder, DJ James Threlfall also appears. James works radio for the BBC, and hosts football platform, 433. With a 95K Tik-Tok audience, Full Tone Festival also welcomes trumpeter Oli Parker, local legendary rock n rollers, Pete Lamb & The Heartbeats, and I’m delighted to see the most amazingly talented country-rock star Kirsty Clinch added to this fine bill; surely the icing on the cake.

    Talking cake, food and drink will be available from local vendors, and t-shirts will be on sale and raising funds for Dorothy House. And that’s that, Bowie said it best, ch-ch-ch-changes. All you need to do is grab a ticket, from Ticketsource, or Devizes Books. While children under 14 go free, it’s going to set you back forty quid, yet you can guarantee its money well spent, for this unmissable entire weekend show right on your doorstep.

    And for anyone casting a shadow of “samey,” I’d argue only in as much as everything is formulated; Albert Einstein had seven of the same suits, so he didn’t have to decide which one to wear! What are you expecting from them, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, digging up Beethoven? One ponders if they even attended last year, and I don’t mean the unofficial gathering on the little green, because they didn’t receive the benefit of being encased in the incredible acoustics of that Jetsons stage, they had not one iota of the splendour, the all-encompassing effect of it. But to say, if you were there, you’d surely take the “if it isn’t broken,” opinion and want nothing more than to do it all again.

    Of course, it’s your prerogative to stay home watching Come Dine with Me on an endless cycle of repeats while everyone else is having a truckload of fun! For more information about the Fulltone Music Festival on The Green, Devizes, and to purchase tickets, please visit the Fulltone Orchestra website.


  • REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival 2022

    A Great Festival – Now What About The Future?

    Andy Fawthrop

    Well, the 2022 Devizes Arts Festival has now drawn to its successful close.  Thanks to a very determined and hard-working committee, this jewel in the D-Town crown was finally shining again.  Along with DOCA-led events like the International Street Festival, Carnival, Colour Rush, Lantern Parade etc, The Food & Drink Festival, the two Beer Festivals, and The Fulltone Music Festival, we are truly spoiled for the cultural life in our town.  We certainly punch way above our weight.….

    This year the DAF ran from 9th to 25th June, a fortnight full of great entertainment – I counted 23 events at ten venues across town, showcasing a wide variety of the arts – jazz, classical, rock and country music, comedy, talks, walks.  Most, if not quite all, were well supported and I know that the organisers were pleased overall with ticket sales.  Bearing in mind that this Festival was effectively originally planned in 2019 and meant for delivery in 2020, it finally emerged blinking into the light of a post-Covid world in 2022.  A great job was done in rolling forward as many planned acts as possible, but there were inevitable casualties – some artists previously booked had understandably moved on and taken other bookings in the meantime. So, for the DAF Committee, it must have seemed a little bit like Groundhog Day in getting this thing finally done.

    So what was so good about it?  Obviously tastes and opinions are going to differ, but attendances and ticket sales have to be a good indicator.  We saw some nationally-known stars – Lesley Garrett, Simon Calder, Adam Frost, Tankus The Henge, and Darius Brubeck making their way down to this part of rural Wiltshire.  For me, the personal highlights were The Scummy Mummies and Alfie Moore on the comedy side, and Tankus and Darius Brubeck on the musical front.  The spread and variety of events was impressive, the venues were well set up and organised, and the advertising was spot-on.

    The things that might need a little further thought about were that some events/ venues weren’t sold out, that there were not more “affordable” events in the mix, and that there were only two Free Fringe events (although both were excellent and very well attended).  Perhaps these factors, and the lack of very much aimed specifically at a much younger audience, did lead to a preponderance of an (ahem) “older demographic” at quite a few events.  Clearly there were a couple of exceptions (Tankus and The Scummies spring to mind), but certainly something I couldn’t help but notice.

    But, to be honest, a lot of this is minor quibbling.  The Festival overall was clearly an artistic success, and the DAF committee and volunteers deserve a hell of a lot of praise for getting off their arses and delivering a very high quality event in our town.  Hats off to the lot of them!

    So what of the future?  What should we expect?  Already, as the dust settles on this year’s event and all the analysis starts, change is afoot.  The DAF organising committee itself is changing and evolving, as the Chair (Margaret Bryant) and Vice-chair (Vivienne Cuckow) step down from their roles.  Discussion and planning for 2023 and beyond will start shortly, with Vince McNamara and Jean Edwards stepping up to jointly fill the role of Chair.

    The broad thinking at the moment is that, now that the “old” Festival has been (finally) delivered, 2023 can start with an almost completely blank sheet of paper.  The decks have been cleared, and the DAF committee are back in the saddle, raring to go.  Is that too many metaphors? – probably, but you get the drift.

    There are (hopefully) new venues to think of – the Palace cinema, St. Mary’s, the Vaults and other pubs.  There is the possible prospect of conversations and more co-operation with other music venues in the town, and other Festival organisers – hopefully to mutual benefit.  There might well be more Free Fringe, especially on days/ times that don’t conflict with or overlap the more marquee main events.  Perhaps some choirs or singing events?  Perhaps more to appeal to a younger audience?  (But probably not children’s events – these have been tried several times in the past, but have not succeeded).   Because, whilst it’s important to have an open mind, it would clearly be foolish to completely ignore the hard lessons that have been learned in the past.  Experience has to be blended with innovative thinking.  It has to be a sensible and commercial balance between the completely experimental – bringing in the exotic, the different, unexpected – and the tried-and-trusted popular bankers.

    Equally, whilst it’s always good to support artists from our local cultural scene, there needs to be a heavy sprinkling of national/ international stars that audiences in D-Town would never normally get to see at affordable prices.  Frankly, it’s the latter that sells most of the tickets, and the acts that look good on the posters and the advertising!

    So it’s going to be a real tightrope walk for the new committee to get this just right.  I don’t envy them, but I do sincerely wish them the very best of luck!

    Does this make you feel that you’d like to contribute your ideas and/ or your energy?  If so, I’m pretty sure DAF would like to hear from you – there’s plenty of work to be done to develop and shape a successful festival.  And/ or you can become a Friend of the Festival, volunteer, and – most importantly of all – buy those tickets! For more information see the Devizes Arts Festival website at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk/


    Editor’s note: well, that kept our roving reporter Andy out of trouble for a fortnight! A massive thanks to you, Mr F, you’ve done an astounding job covering the Devizes Arts Festival. As opposed to me who danced my socks off at the fantastic Baila La Cumbia night. Here’s to 2023!


  • Timid Deer; back with more Melodies for the Nocturnal

    Salisbury may be a grey area for us, we don’t get to hear a great deal about the music scene there. I guess they have their own media, magazines and blogs covering it, but it is something I realise I must work on. For all I know, Timid Deer could be huge there, but they should be widely known, everywhere, in my honest opinion. So even if this is erroneous, I stand my ground when I’ve said in the past, they’re one of the most underrated bands around these parts, and this follow-up EP to vol one of Melodies for the Nocturnal proves their worth…….

    If, like me, you find it hard to come to terms with the notion the melodic Bristol-led trip hop scene for the matured raver is a generation past, and cannot get over how luscious Portishead, Massive Attack and, particularly, Morcheeba were, or if your indie side still relishes in the mellowed ambient soundscapes of Celtic goth, of Clannad, or All About Eve, this sits comfortably, somewhere in the middle, yet, for all the random comparisons I’m flinging, it’s unique for not applying the electronica “dope beats” of trip hop or the often gloomy outlook of goth. It is, in essence, uplifting indie.

    Uplifting because Timid Deer captures your mood and whisks it away on a smooth airborne expedition across a fantasy realm, akin to Enya or Evanescence, or which seems to be trending recently, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.

    Unsure quite why every kid is listening and every mainstream radio station is playing Running up that Hill at the moment, but I’m happy it has, going on the grounds it makes those little hairs on the back of your neck stand up, Timid Deer has the same effect.

    I’ve fondly reviewed the first two tracks, Crossed Wires and Run upon their single release in March and December last year, respectively, but the EP contains two more beautiful songs, Wrapped Around Your Heart, and Promises. I said of Run, at the time; “a grand piano opening, their evocative part-indie-part-trip hop ambience is accomplished to a new standard here, with Naomi Henstridge’s both soothing yet haunting vocals embracing howling strings and, wow, this rolling piano. It’s reflective of nineties nu-cool, the brilliance of Morcheeba or Portishead, yet without so much inspired of acid jazz or trip hop to make it cliché, rather it’s owning this refreshing edge to appeal to the more guitar-laced indie fans, too.”

    And I described Crossed Wires as, “An uplifting piano three-minute masterwork, engulfing your soul and building layers with smooth electronic beats. Evocative as Enya without the orchestrated strings, as expressive as Clannad without the folk roots, and closer to Yazoo via electronica, rather than the aforementioned influences of Portishead and Morcheeba. Ticks all my boxes.”

    These two new tunes follow suit. The rolling piano, is blissful and lyrics beguiling, Wrapped Around your Heart is another winner, perhaps a smidgen more marketable than the previous two. The four-track EP ends with the ballad Promises, exemplifying everything that’s gorgeous about the sound they’ve captured, the strings and piano work in harmony, entreat the euphoric mellifluousness. It’s the standing motionless mouth aghast kind of music which reaches the soul.

    I discovered Timid Deer supporting the Lost Trades’ launch night at Trowbridge’s Pump, a gig I unfortunately had to miss but despatched a roving reporter to in my absence, and upon checking out their slight recorded output I was shocked as to why Timid Deer doesn’t have greater recognition. Perhaps a clue in the band name, they play Swindon Shuffle but rarely we see them gig otherwise; it’s a sound to relish, a sound for home comforts, for “chilling in your crib,” and Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 2, showcases that brilliance. Absolutely enrapturing…..


  • Weekend Roundup: 30th June – 3rd July 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


  • REVIEW – Tamsin Quin & Vince Bell @ The Southgate, Devizes – Sunday 26th June 2022

    300 and still counting!

    Andy Fawthrop

    Is it really (not that) long? Debs suddenly realised over the weekend that this was the 300th gig that she and Dave had put on in The Southgate since taking over in 2018. That’s only four years, and we had a pandemic in the middle when all the pubs were necessarily closed anyway, so that’s a pretty remarkable record! No-one has done more to support live music in D-Town that Debs and Dave, with virtually every weekend supporting at least one gig, sometimes two or three. I do remember one night when there were (for complicated reasons that need not detain us now) two gigs on at exactly the same time – one inside the pub, and one in the skittle alley!

    There have been acts from all over the country, and indeed from several other countries. There has been just about every style of music you can think of – rock, prog, psychedelia, blues, funk, soul, folk and every combination thereof that you can think of. Most of it worked too!

    So it was really good, albeit perhaps just a lucky coincidence, that gig number 300 should be one of those relaxed Sunday afternoon sessions featuring a couple of the best of our very local singer/ songwriters – Tamsin Quin and Vince Bell. The atmosphere was, as usual, warm and supportive right from the start.

    Tamsin was up first, shorn of her Lost Trades buddies, for an occasional solo performance. I’ve known Tamsin since some of her early gigs back in the mists of time at the now-defunct Seend Acoustic. Back then she was chatty, nervous, a little scatty, but clearly a great songwriter and performer. Since then, and I’ve seen her perform many times, she has clearly developed. She’s stronger and more assured in front of a microphone, her singing style is more gentle, and her song-writing has developed in leaps and bounds – intimate, sincere and with a new depth and maturity.

    Vince followed her onto the singing stool and showed us, yet again, what a great singer/ songwriter he is. And it was one of those gigs where, instead of being reduced to the “folkie in the corner” everybody (including the dogs) was properly listening. Again we had strong, deep songs, with some occasional Spiderman-pyjama whimsy thrown in, and a captivating performance.

    Unfortunately, I had to skip the very last bit where they got to sing some songs together (Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was calling and I didn’t want to get put “on hold”), so as they used to say in The News Of The World “I made my apologies and left”, which was a damned pity because it was such a lovely, homely gig.

    There were lots of friends in the audience, and a lot of love in the room. I’m pretty sure I’m right in thinking that both performers enjoyed it as much as we audience did in listening. Wonderful.

    So, as I said, a great gig to celebrate 300 and counting. Let’s hope for many more great gigs, and let’s hope that the good folk of D-Town keep on supporting quality live music.

    Future gigs at The Southgate:

    Saturday 2nd July Jack Grace Band
    Sunday 3rd July Jon Amor + Friends