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!


REVIEW – Devizes Arts Festival –The Homing @ Conservative Club 17th June 2022

A Game of Two Halves

Andy Fawthrop

Another day, another Arts Festival presentation. Following classical, rock, comedy, it was time for something completely different – this time it was alt-country/ folk/ Americana from London-based The Homing, and yet another different D-Town venue. We were up at the Con Club in Long Street, normally home to the very successful Long Street Blues Club. The place was pretty full and, due to the lack of any air-conditioning, a very hot place to be.

The Homing are: Dani Somerside (vocals, percussion), June Brawner (vocals, keyboards, guitar, mandolin), with Abraham Kane (acoustic and electric guitars), Rob Navrati (drums, vocals) and
Arnold Carrete (bass).

This concert, for me at least, was a game of two halves. In the first half the band struggled to reach its stride and to generate much enthusiasm, either on stage or in the audience. The songs were pleasant enough and competently performed, but the vibe was steady and plodding, rather than exciting. Slow and medium tempo numbers ran into one another, and it was a relief to get to half time.

After the break things were different. I don’t know if there was a hairdryer moment in the dressing room, or whether this is just how their shows usually run. But suddenly there was a flash of that missing spark. They lifted the tempo a few notches and, hey presto, the dance-floor quickly filled up. There were still the odd mis-steps in the set-list as the band, inexplicably, twice cleared a busy dance-floor by doing a long rambling intro, followed by another slow one. However, they kept rescuing it, and we just about reached the finishing-line with a guarded thumbs up.

Not the best gig I’ve been to, to be honest, but you can’t like everything. A better-ordered set-list, a couple more upbeat numbers, and slightly less chat might have lifted this performance to “good”. It was an enjoyable night out (just), but I was left feeling that it could have been rather better than it actually was. Oh, and I wouldn’t have called this Americana or alt-country either – more like soft/ folk-rock. Not massively important in the grand scheme of things, but we do worry about our labels don’t we?

The Devizes Arts Festival continues every day until 25th June at various venues across town. Tickets can be booked at Devizes Books or online at www.devizesartsfestival.org.uk


Just the Beginning, Start The Sirens

If it’s the beginning, it’s a loud one; kicking punk album release from Start the Sirens out last week has got me potentially stage-diving off the top of wardrobe.…..

A collaboration of members from Trowbridge, Devizes, Westbury and Wotton Bassett, Start The Sirens formed in 2019, hit the pandemic with an acoustic EP, which bassist Leyton Jones, aka Rocky explains was an experimental project to “find our own style, and achieve that upbeat sound.” Just the Beginning is the kicking debut, and a testament to accomplishment; they rock it with bells on.

If Forget What You Heard sets the mood, kick-ass skater punk which takes no prisoners, the second track Sunset to Sunrise breathes an air of carefree ingenuity akin to millennial pop-punk. Three tunes in though, Tell Me hints of traditional punk, well, at me it does! Lead vocalist Holly Harwood in Siouxsie Sioux fashion, especially with the “Whoa Whoa” chorus. It’s beguiling stuff hard to pinpoint but with a wave insensible to pigeonholing; just shut it and rock out.

Keen though I am to shelf this with punk roots, for it has that DIY ethos, Rocky was adamant to cite pop-punk and emo bands like New Found Glory and Blink 182 as obvious influences, and I’m forced to shed my aged perceptions and agree, it’s high-energy vibes and doesn’t come up for air, but cast in positive light rather than the dejected attitude of original punk. Positivity was key, Rocky established with me.

Design by Nikki Noodle

We spoke of tricky placements in local circuit pub gigs, though the band rocked Trowbridge’s Stallards last weekend, play the Old Bear Staverton tonight (2nd June) at 8pm, and support USA’s Hit Like A Girl with Brighton-based I Feel Fine, for a Sheer Music gig at The Village Pump on Friday 17th June. Rocky spelled out their motivation was a labour of love, and based on this showcase album, they should be placed firmly on a touring map of UK punk venues. Though I think Swindon’s Vic should snap them up, Bradford’s Three Horseshoes and Devizes Southgate would love it too.

Seven original three-to-four-minute heroes here, the penultimate This One’s For You perhaps the most enticingly commercially viable, and it finishes with one final name-sake anthem blast; I’m looking forward to catching these guys live. What? No, I’m convinced I still got it, mate! I’ve told you my story of Dad’s taxi to a Bowling for Soup gig at Bristol’s O2 before, haven’t I? I was like leaning on the railings of the upper area when I perchance to spot another glum looking expression on a guy of similar age. Seems like he was also chaperone to his kids, and we did the dad nod. Then I thought fuck it, I’m here, allowed to enjoy myself too and tried to drag that son to the mosh pit!

I may be outdated for the skater punk detonation, but it’s high energy, full of zest and aspiration, that’s my take, and something Start the Sirens has captured here; have a listen, get ’em in your local….  


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Cobalt Fire’s Butterfly

In the words of the great Suggs, “but I like to stay in, and watch TV, on my own, every now and then,” after three gigs on the previous weekend, I opted a weekend off, albeit I was with the family, and succumbed to Britain’s Got Talent for my entertainment, one little part of me wishing I’d headed down the Southgate.….

To rub salt in the wound, Swindon-(I think)-based Cobalt Fire, who were providing the sounds at Devizes most dependable pub for original music last Saturday, also released a debut album called Butterfly, so naturally I wanted to hear what I missed.

Self-defined as a fusion of “the retro sound of 90’s grunge and post-punk with a modern take on folk,” I can see where they’re coming from, and it’s no new thing for them, formerly known as Ells and the Southern Wild, the band developed their fresh sound from acoustic roots, and yes, there’s tinges of this still in them. Though their bio suggests they formed in 2103, I gather there’s either a typo or a gothic timelord in there! But in their switch to electric they strive to retain the core features of the songs, “creating a more muscular beast in the process,” they put it.

And they’ve certainly achieved this, Butterfly, usually more bug than beast, is a boom of emotional overdrive, as grunge commands, with echoes more of Evanescence than Nirvana, what with Ells Chadd’s haunting vocal range. It packs punches from beginning to end, the finale of which, Another Round, particularly poignant to this nod to acoustic roots, middle tracks like His Words Lie Heavy breath an air of eighties post-punk, ah, goth tinge, Siouxsie Sioux style, while it begins strictly grunge, with those rising and falling echoes of emotive authority.

The magnum opus, though, is three tracks in, Crimson Red summarises everything great about this potent four-piece, it’s dynamitic, driving.

It’s basically ten professionally executed, blindingly touching three-minute heroes, in a fashion not usually my cuppa. But if I sing praises for a genre more me, that’s easy work, for music to make me consider oh yeah, I like this though pigeonholing obligation says I shouldn’t, the result is even more impressive, and with Butterfly I’m near to breaking out some multi-belt buckle platform boots, growing my hair and dying it black!

This is a powerful and emotive creation, indulgent of all rock subgenres, yet beguiling grunge, and it never strays from its unique sound. See now, I’m sorry I missed you guys, another time and I’m beeline; embarrassingly for BGT too, though I’ve given my best cat ate my homework excuse, and though I doubt you’ll turn Simon Cowell’s frown upside-down, going on this album, you’d have got my golden buzzer.

Ah, it’s all lies, anyway; not sure my hair will grow back!


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Worried Men at the Southgate

Glad to find time between running Dad’s taxi to nip over to Devizes’ trusty Southgate, for one reason unworthy of explaing here or another, feels like an age since frequenting our favouritemost tavern, and I’m all smiles to return.

Historically efficient, nonetheless, I’m here to find out what the men are worried about; possibly an ironic namesake for Jamie Thyer’s tradtional electric RnB three-piece, a pub trio very worthy of your attention, should you not have come across them on their 28 years on the circuit.

Sure, I’ve seen The Worried Men’s name about a bit of recent, last time listed at Trowbridge’s Pump with our Tamsin in support. Maybe there’s the reason for my assumption it’d have a folk twinge, but you know what they say about assumption.

Marvellously proficient, in a manner vien of classic sixties and seventies rock bands derived via blues rather than folk, The Worried Men seemed not in the least bit worried to me. Rather brewing in deserved confidence, Jamie’s wealth of experience shows as his fingers glide across those strings, governed, it seemed, from the gods. At one point this guitar virtuoso accepts a mug of tea, drinks it mid-song while continuing to make it look like childsplay.

Treated to the perfect balance of originals and self-stamped covers, they weaved between electric blues and psychedelia rock n roll with a clear nod to its roots. So to blend any subgenre fitted sublimely into a firey set, whether Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water riff, frenzied hints of punk rock, mellowed Flyod-eske moments or reaching further back to rock n roll’s golden era, every experiment in rock history was crafted into their unique style, without the need to metalise. Though Motorhead did get a moment in their repertoire.

What came out the other side was a loud and proud plethora of excellence of which you could only nod your appreciation to, confident you were in the hands of some really experienced long-haired rockers with Cuban heels.

Jamie holds an expression of concentration, occasionally looking up at you through these spellbinding Hendrix fashioned exercursions, as if to ask “is that alright for you?” Like a dentist with his tools stuck in your gum, you feel like responding, “yes, fine, thank you doctor.”

I guess therein lies the beauty of the rather cramped Devizes answer to the 02 arena, virtually perched atop of a band you’d usually witness from a stage distance, makes it an intimate experience, personal. While this may not suit all, The Southgate does it their own way, and they continue to host free gigs you’d happy pay a ticket stub for.

For this, and the clash of similar as The Long Street Blues Club knocking out, I’d suspect, a blinder at the Corn Exchange, last night down the Gate wasn’t as full as it could’ve possibly been for an act so warrent of the highest praise possible. Again, the strive in The Gate to present us with great live music every weekend needs nourishing and respecting, with other local boozers only doing this sporadically, it’s the only dependant offering of entertainment in town, unless of course you keep up with what’s happening via this rather special website, if I do say so myself!

So, if you were in that exclusive club last night, I wager you were as bowlled over by The Worried Men as was I. From moments of intricate guitar picking with amps low, to the frenzied finale where Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny,” fused into medley with Muddy Waters’ “Little Red Rooster” with emphasis on the Stones cover, and The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” with an audience participation encouraged encore of Them’s “Gloria,” this surely was an astounding performance to satisfy the craving of rock aficionados from any given generation.

Onwards, next Saturday’s offering at The Southgate also takes on a blues edge, slightly east of us, local blues group Barrelhouse take up the legendary alcove, and take it from me, if you like your entertainment as gritty and vintage as the great Howlin’ Wolf, you’re in for a treat.


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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On The Road With Talk in Code!

You know that millennial movie, Almost Famous, set mid-seventies, where Rolling Stone Magazine mistake a nerdy teenager for a music journalist and send him on the road with an outrageous prog-rock band? It was nothing like that. Neither did it resemble 200 Motels, where a man dressed as a vacuum cleaner convinces you Ringo Starr is actually Frank Zappa in some freaky acid flashback. But I did have an awesome adventure yesterday, on the road with local premier indie-pop favs, Talk in Code.…..

There were no campervans with CND slogans painted on the side-door, no sign of Goldie Hawn’s daughter unfortunately, and though my bubbles of anachronistic pre-imaginings burst, it allowed me to chart the regular labour of a touring band, rather than my usual practise of slouching up halfway through a performance with lame excuse. For if I’m going to write on the subject, I need to comprehend the inner workings, and the thoughts of a band going to a gig; even though I’m far from teenage music journalist with an advance from Rolling Stone!

So, by dinnertime I’m lone with guitarist Alastair Sneddon at the steering wheel, hereafter referred to as “Snedds,” with an amp case knocking in the rear of his car, and distracted by my inane waffling, weaving between musical subjects, badly following his sat-nav to Portsmouth.

Likely the eldest of this four-piece band, Snedds is a family man with a wealth of musical experience. He fondly recalls playing in cover bands, jazz and blues groups and our chat swifts across his past, musical influence brushing off on his children, current past gigs and local venues, to the importance, or insignificance of pop culture, the mainstream music industry and current trends of listening to music from streaming platforms to amplification to listening through phone speakers; we could’ve chatted all night on his passionate chosen subject, least it perceived to reduce the travel time.  

Before I knew it, we were awkwardly parked on a busy street in Southsea. Awash with cheesy club type pubs, restaurants, kebab houses and chippies, lies an equally misplaced theatre to our right, and a more traditional looking city tavern, The Lord John Russell, which will be our venue for the evening. Like a true roadie I felt a sense of haughtiness as I assisted lugging equipment through the already bustling pub; make way, yes, I’m with the band, ladies control yourselves!

But nothing felt ostentatious for the band as they amassed their kit in a corner, greeted each other and the promoter; here’s a tight working team despite the geographic distance between them. Talk in Code are part from Swindon, Reading and Devizes, but here they are with an excited air of anticipation brewing. There’s a trio of bands on tonight, Talk in Code are second on, while the first are already sound checking, locally based to Portsmouth, Southerlies are a seven-piece covers band, fusing Americana with punchy hooks into contemporary pop; they proficiently delivered their set with good male-female vocal harmonies, and being local I observe they attracted a fanbase.

Quite eclectic then, to switch to Talk in Code’s more electronica indie-pop, which as I discussed in the car with Snedds, perpetually seemed to fuse conventional nineties indie sound to a more inimitable eighties synth-pop style with every new tune. Yet tricker still was the notion the Talkers insist to play only their originals, which would be unknown to this rather heterogenous crowd. Besides, frontman Chris gets his fill of covers with the Britpop Boys.

Seems Friday live music nights are relatively new-fangled for the Lord John Russell, with a promoter keen to create the venture, the pub also adhered to cater for the pull on it’s street with screens showing sport and archetypical club music between acts. As much as market town pubs like Devizes’ Southgate work here, with a penchant for original live music and solely that, it wouldn’t work in this busy city location judging by the footfall. But a splendid, convivial and dynamic pub it was with a wide demographic.

One thing I was keen to gage from Talk in Code, the priorities and feelings towards playing a gig outside their usual stomping ground as opposed to returning to a venue like Swindon’s Victoria where a fanbase would be welcoming. They stressed the importance of both, and being their recent connection to Regent Street Records, there’s a keenness in the band to grab wider-appeal in anticipation of the forthcoming album. The release of which has been pushed back to accommodate this collaboration.

Still, all the band are united in praising recent local gigs, particularly Trowbridge Town Hall where they supported The Worried Men, and were keen to pick out the importance of the many locally-based festivals they’re booked at, from Minety to Live at Lydiard and IWild in Gloucestershire. And with appearances at places like Oxford’s HMV, things are really looking up for them post-lockdown.

And it’s easy to see why when they bounced on stage last night at the Lord John Russell, after their virtually nail-biting eagerness while the Southerlies launched into their final song, Chris already polishing his guitar and Snedds confessing the waiting game is a pet hate. A technical issue with leads to the backing tracks solved, the band applauded the previous and proficiently executed their thing, introducing themselves and delivering their songs with panache.

For me it was a blessing, being I’m aware of much of their discography, to finally get to witness them do it live, and had to stop to ponder their stage presence is as exhilarating as their recorded work. Yet, my view of the performance differed from the crowd as the band were likely new to them. Still, they got the place jumping, sprightlier, and louder than the previous band. They confessed a spirit of fair competition was unavoidable in them, yet affirmed their ethos to never do their set and bunk, in respect for other bands; Talk in Code come off as outgoing throughout and it was an honour to be welcomed into their web.

Also present, I spent time chatting connections, her background as music journalist and her fanzine making past, with manager Lyndsey. From Milton Keynes she avidly followed the group in their early years, falling in love with their sound it seemed only natural to mutually agree for her to manage. And part-time freelance photographer Helen, whose PolarPix Facebook page is dominated with Talk in Code shots. I put it to her she seems to have another band photographed then a Talk in Code one, then another Talk in Code one, then another random band. She acknowledged most of the other bands were on the same bill as TIC! A true “Talker,” as is their fanbase appellation.

Percival Elliott

A pleasant change from trudging the local circuit, as the finale was a euphoric rock band named Percival Elliott, who, with barefoot frontman on keys, executed a sublime set, the like you’d want Coldplay to achieve. In many ways here was a band apt for our own fond venues such as aforementioned Southgate and Trowbridge Town Hall. Without boast, coming highly recommended by yours truly occasionally has some clout, though there was part of me who, if in control of this triple-bill, would’ve put Talk in Code as the final band, being more upbeat popish.

We give no more review of The Lord John Russell for the sake of it being outside our boundaries, but if you’re Pompy bound this would be an ideal pub to consider, offering a variety of free live music dates on Fridays. Now I’m home, unpacked my Peppa Pig bucket and spade, but while I unfortunately didn’t see the seaside, or Kate Hudson, I was in good company with a band which goes from strength-to-strength.  


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Devizes Gives Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club a Warm Welcome

Since their formation last June, Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club have held jamming sessions at the rather splendid Owl Lodge, tucked away on Bowden Hill, near Lacock. Video teasers on the book of face attracted my eye; membership-schemed freestyle blues within a cosy log cabin setting, firepit et al. But if this rural blues society has been stealthy, it was high time for them to blow the lid on the secret.….

And they pulled it off with bells on, staging a multiple act show at The Corn Exchange, in the bright city lights of Devizes(!); a market town historically marked on the blues map of England.

If the event came off with niggling teething troubles, organisers admitted hosting a show on this scale was a learning curve for them. Yet the exceptional high standard of acts booked guaranteed it infallible to be anything less than the awesome night it was.

Failsafe came in the form of the part rockabilly part big band-edged blues frenzy of headliners, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, with that guitar virtuoso frontman you could worry will dehydrate up there for want of extending feverish moments from traditional three-minute hero into Pink Floyd record lengths.

Our homegrown legend, Innes Sibun, who glides electric guitar strings as if the lovechild of Page and Hendrix, in sporadically performing, internationally famed collaboration Innes Sibun Blues Explosion. If this was any kind of detonation as the band name suggests, it was a seriously smooth one. Frontman Patrick Hibbert eased sublimely delivered soulful vocals, while Innes did his matchless thing.

Bristol-based one-man-band and regular favourite at Devizes’ Southgate, Eddie Martin, who perfectly filled gaps between bands with sublime solo renditions of long-lost blues legends, encouraging audience participation, with nuggets of a blues history lesson and witty repartee.

And part co-ordinator of the Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club, Will Blake, who with full band straddled a burgundy grand piano akin to Jerry-Lee Lewis, when I walked into the joint, and delivered some outstanding soul and rock n roll classics with a few originals thrown in. Alluring singer Rosa Gray occasionally complimented this line-up with sassy vocals, perhaps most memorable duetting with Will on Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

If, in comparison to the later acts, one debates the repertoire of The Will Blake Band to be wedding requests, it would surely be the one wedding you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Besides, platitude covers added a dimension and awoke the majority elder audience with familiarity; it was a booming flinch creating a buzz of anticipation; this was to be grand night of quality entertainment.

If similar shows fill gaps between bands with recorded sound or second-rate comedians, drafting in the great Eddie Martin proved the club never skipped on quality, even for intervals. A prolific recording artist whose devotion to the old-timey blues of legends like Robert Johnson, Son House and Blind Willie Johnson, Ed’s spellbinding solo tribute is unparalleled, and just as all other acts here tonight, would’ve made an unforgettable show alone.

In this, one prevention of selling out that vast hall could arguably be the score ticket-stub, but to deliver a lush line-up this rammed costs. Nevertheless, it was adequately filled to begin with, a mature majority able to justify and swallow the cost lessened off gradually as the evening drew late. This left the hall disappointingly bare by the time Ruzz Guitar belted on stage, but those who remained made the most of it and dancing upfront lambasted the decision to provide show styled seating. If I’m nit-picking criticisms they’re justified as future considerations, because cost is insignificant when the proficiency of all these acts, combined, was priceless, seating arrangements are hugely debatable, considering the age demographic, and others, well, I’m certain there was no more. This was a great evening, presenting Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club with potential new members, as jams are planned to kick off again in April; will keep you posted.

Long Street Blues Club proprietors Ian and Liz in attendance proved no rivalry, I conversed with Exchange club owner Ian James, who reminisced on blues gigs of yore, based in town; something I never tire of hearing. These, combined with the likes of Innes and Jon Amor affirms Devizes’ place of the blues map of England, surely? So, there was no local location more apt for this kind of event, and a massive respect to the Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club for taking on the challenge of appeasing local blues aficionados, proud of Devizes, akin to what Coventry means to Two-Tone or Bristol to UK hip hop, least near as dammit for a small town!

I personally think you guys pulled the rabbit from the hat.

It was something I was pondering beforehand, now confirmed my need to relabel after Innes Sibun Blues Explosion’s textbook performance last night, that my terminology “local music” I often overuse. It’s inapt to refer to the likes of Innes and Jon Amor as local musicians, despite being born here, with the same marker as those rarely venturing outside our local circuit. Last time I was standing beside Innes and Jon, I earwigged their recollections of tours of eastern European countries; these guys are internationally renowned, The Innes Sibun Blues Explosion have been somewhat dormant for over thirty years, likely due to their individual location being so far apart, and this was a reunion gig for them. But where does one draw the line? With folk trio The Lost Trades’ recent success, they too straddle this borderline now.

Four of the Five original members, Innes Sibun, John Baggot, Patrick Hibbert and also drummer for Ruzz, Mike Hoddinott, reformed for this gig, performing songs from their 1991 album That’s What The Blues Can Do. Coupled with Ruzz, officially endorsed by Gretsch Guitars, who knocked my personal favourite Sweet as Honey out of the park as a grand finale, encored by Will Blake joining them adlibbing on piano, made this evening a notable notch on the history of blues events in town, and a delight to have attended such a memorable occasion.

Where the Wiltshire Blues & Soul Club go from here is anyone’s guess, but we look forward to prospect they might least match this again rather top it, or even hope it breathes interest into their more humbling jamming sessions at the Owl Lodge. Top marks all round I say; anyone got an ibuprofen?!


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Marching On, Things to do Next Month, Part 1……

I bloomin’ love March, usually, but as we show this month the door, and with such a mild winter, do not get over excited; while temperatures improve slightly, except it’ll be a wet one. A day of snow predicted Thursday, March kicks in better, but worsens by the second week, with a forecast 15-22 days of perpetual rain, hopefully clearing at the end, from Thursday 24th.

To add a degree of optimism to all this, there’s a truckload of things to do over the first month of so-called spring, there’s hope we can see less events being cancelled and life in the great outdoors taking steps towards the positive. Still, I advise to check ahead before venturing out, via the links provided; our ever-updating event calendar doesn’t update that quickly to include cancelations, and I can’t be held responsible for such cancelations or failure of organisers to refund tickets. Also, it’s a minefield adding links to these events, so find them all on the calendar, ta muchly.

And do not take this as comprehensive, the calendar is being updated all the time, this is just some advance highlights and all things I’d do, if I had cloning technology……

Given all I’ve said about the weather, it doesn’t seem too bad for Bath’s Big Sleepout on Friday 4th in Alice Park; hats off to Julian House and all doing it, raising vital funds and awareness for people forced to sleep-out every night.

Prior, live rock, electronica and folk from novelist, playwright and stand-up comedian Grant Sharkey, with ecologist Thomas Haynes and Bristol the Badger, aka Grasslands, on Wednesday 2nd, at that little coffee shop Baristocats, on Commercial Road Swindon. While Thursday sees one half of Show of Hands, Steve Knightly, at Trowbridge’s Pump, and the other, Phil Beer kicking off his So Much to Choose From tour at Corsham’s Pound Arts. Meanwhile, it’s a three-way guitar showdown at Chapel Arts in Bath with Daryl Kellie, Will McNicol and David Mead, and the Apricity Theatre group bring a Greenhouse of emerging artists out of lockdown to the Rondo Theatre.

WEEK 1

Friday 4th

To week one, then; starting Friday 4th, for parents and babies, Pound Arts has Swings & Roundabouts by the Filskit Theatre, who are inviting the bum wipers, bedtime boppers and owners of tiny humans, to join actor, musician, and mummy, Sophie Ross, for a brand-new comedy musical. A nappy change in the evening though, with dark, gut-wrenching adult stand-up from Bobby Mair, on his Cockroach tour.

The Exchange, Devizes pushes up the Tempo with a drum n bass night, while for a more hip-hop/reggae related evening, try DJ Nicewun & Mac Lloyd at The Village Pump. For something lighter, Alan Titchmarsh is at the Theatre Royal, Bath!

If you are in Bath, though, and into folk, try internationally renowned Faustus at Chapel Arts, who also come to Marlborough folk Roots the next week, Friday11th, or The Rondo, where Cindy Stratton and Marius Frank, ZBella, men’s choir Sasspafellas and upcoming singer/songwriter Ellie Frank headline an evening of entertainment raising money for the refugee charity UNHCR.

Closer to home, our good friends Bran and Mirko, as The Celtic Roots Collective bring some Irish roots to Seend Community Centre, from 7pm, which is free or donations. Also look out for one-man mechanical alt-blues band, Funke and the Two-Tone Baby at the Winchester Gate, Salisbury, a tribute to Nightwash, Knightwish, at the Vic, Swindon, or Coyote Kings at the Village Inn. Oh, and the Fillers play the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Saturday 5th

Saturday, and the Wharf Theatre, Devizes has the award-winning theatre company White Cobra, presenting Bette & Joan, i.e., Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, in danger of becoming has-beens but get an opportunity to appear together in a new film, if the arch-rivals don’t clash.

Swindon’s original band with bluesy intent, Thud come to The Southgate, while the Bear’s Cellar Bar reopens with free entry to a 70s-80s Disco with DJ Andy Saunders.

It’s happy third birthday to Melksham’s The Hiding Place, and The Carpenters Experience, which speaks for itself, at the Assembly Hall.

Trowbridge Town Hall get post-punk DIY vibes with a triple billing of Slagheap, Slug Puppie and Carsick, while Chippenham’s Neeld have Amen Corner’s Andy Fairweather Low & the Low Riders, and The Cuban Brothers take The Cheese & Grain, but when in Frome, local punkers One Chord Wonders play the Sun. In complete contrast, Pound Arts has critical acclaimed folk and Americana, with Ida Wenøe & Samantha Whates.

Back to the arts, Rondo Theatre, Bath have Charlotte Palmer in an hilarious and moving one woman show, sometimes angry exploration of women over 50, who find themselves overlooked, ignored, disregarded, in short becoming The Invisible Woman, and Theatre Royal’s Egg have The Dark, Peut-Etrê Theatre which merges vibrant physicality with live music to create captivating and energetic performances for the whole family. It is even accessible for blind and visually impaired children through integrated audio description and touch tours.

Sunday 6th

Jon Amor’s first Sunday of the month residency at the Southgate, Devizes is the place to be, promising guest Jonny Henderson. But allow me to also recommend Bath’s Yiddish folk collective, Chai For All, who celebrate International Women’s Day at the Grapes.

Week 2

The Theatre Royal, Bath starts Willy Russel’s musical Blood Brothers on Tuesday 8th and running until Saturday, while the Ustinov Studio has an epic cycle of short plays exploring the personal and political effect of war on modern life, called Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat running from Thursday to Saturday.

But for a locally themed performance, try the Theatre screening of Naming The View at Pound Arts, Corsham, on Thursday. Naming the View takes its inspiration from Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, yet it’s setting is Seend.

Meanwhile, Chapel Arts, Bath has three days on the trot of acoustic folk with Chris Wood on Wednesday, Nick Hart on Thursday, and The Lost Trades play Friday.

Friday 11th

Aforementioned internationally renowned folk with Faustus at Marlborough Folk Roots club, and there’s open mic night at Trowbridge’s Pump, the third heat for amateur musicians of Take The Stage at Chippenham’s Neeld, and ancient ballads promise to be awoken, poems given the tunes they’ve long deserved with Salt House, Scotland’s foremost performers; Jenny Sturgeon, Ewan MacPherson and Lauren MacColl at Pound Arts.

I’d recommend the experimental jazz-fusion of SexJazz, at Swindon’s Beehive for a Harbour Project FUNdraiser, funding art sessions for Swindon refugees and asylum seekers. Also, the Relayaz Band at Bradford-on-Avon’s Boathouse, or for Thin Lizzy fans, as I know there’s a few, Limehouse Lizzy play The Cheese & Grain.

But Devizes best of luck wishes go out to our Full Tone Orchestra, who present Gilbert & Sullivan Pirates of Penzance at Bath Abbey; glorious!

Saturday 12th

Saturday is a whopper, spoiled for choice you are! The most excellently unique Bristol-based Two-Tone punk meets Sierra Leonean percussion duo, Two Man Ting return to The Southgate, Devizes. Meanwhile the Corn Exchange opens its doors to the Lacock-based Wiltshire Soul & Blues Club with a blues extravaganza headlining Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, and there’s a rock n roll night at the Conservative Club, fundraising for Kennet Gateway Club with Mickey Ace and the Wildcards and DJ.

With support by the awesome Train to Skaville, boot boys need to get to Melksham, where Madness tribute Complete Madness take the Assembly Hall one step beyond. Meanwhile our indie-pop heroes, Talk in Code support for The Worried Men at Trowbridge Town Hall. The Dunwells play The Croft, Hungerford.

The Roving Crows play Chapel Arts, Bath, masters of euro-trance, Transglobal Underground at The Cheese & Grain, Frome, and there’s a Party & The Pavilion at Minety Rugby Club, featuring a number of bands, including our friends The Dirty Smooth.

Deep Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake tributes rolled into one at the Vic, Swindon, with Rising from the Deep, meanwhile, Room 101 take the Castle, and Mean as Custard, Loaded Dice and Six O’clock Circus have a free band-off at Level III, fundraising for Swindon homeless charity the Moonlight Express Project. Oh, and MECA have a Sausage & Cider Fest; two of my favourite things!

But if gigs don’t tickle your fancy, there’s some excellent family theatre too; Saturday and Sunday at the Theatre Royal, is the place to find The Super Greedy Caterpillar, and Pound Arts in Corsham have Zoo Co Theatre coming in, presenting Messy, where you can meet Daisy. She’s got a messy brain and a messy bedroom, which makes it very difficult to look after her class hamster Mr Twiggy! A magical visual story, complete with original music, puppets, tap dancing and even a trip to the moon!

Messy is performed by a deaf and hearing cast with Sign Supported English, created in partnership with ADHD Foundation, where all performances are Relaxed, without loud noises and lights left on, and it is followed by a free workshop afterwards.

Saturday at Pound Arts also sees ENG-ER-LAND by Hannah Kumari and WoLab, a football-themed play set in 97, with 13-year-old Lizzie, obsessed with the beautiful game.

Sunday 13th and I got nothing, yet, except CSF Wrestling at The Cheese & Grain, but that’s why you need to keep checking into our bulging event calendar, as more comes in all the time. So much, I’m leaving it there, through fear of repetitive strain injury of my typing fingees. Either that, or it’ll be the middle of April before you finish reading it. But don’t, whatever you do, think for a second there’s nought to do in Wiltshire, and we’ll finish off the rest of March in a few days, give you time to digest this lot first!


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Trowbridge Town Hall Rides into Spring

At the beginning of the month Devizine covered Trowbridge’s musical renaissance, highlighting The Village Pump and Town Hall’s dedication to introducing a variety of upcoming local bands and performers. Explaining Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore had “big shoes to fill,” taking over as chief event coordinator for the Town Hall from Gavin Osborn. Well, the proof is in the pudding, and that dish has made it off the serving counter and onto our table.….

Not forgoing, the programme is already in full-swing, with Truckstop Honeymoon at the Pump on Friday, (18th) a cider swiggin’ scrumpy and western hoedown with The Skimmity Hitchers and our great friends, and the Boot Hill All Stars supporting at the Town Hall on Saturday.     

Boot Hill All Stars

Such is the fashion for live music in Trowbridge, Fridays at the Pump, Saturday at the Town Hall, aside some great happenings at Stallards and Emmanuel’s Yard, comedy and more commercial nights at the Civic. Gecko appears next Saturday at the Town Hall, and all-day Sunday there’s   fundraising session, Kalefest, a family-orientated mini-festival for some musical equipment for a teenager with a severe brain injury, in which Zone Club, Pete Lamb’s Heart Beats and The Relayz play.

Marching on atop this free six-week interactive course of workshops for 16- to 18-year-olds, covering all aspects of the music industry, next month sees a continuation of great bookings, of which we highlighted in the aforementioned preview, here. What we’re here today for is to check in on Kieran, see if he indeed “filled” those shoes for the ongoing season.

So, just revealed, April and May listings at the Town Hall and Pump, which have equally exciting news, as, perhaps, Mr Moore asks the shopkeeper for a shoehorn. Isle of Man’s recent export to Wiltshire, Becky Lawrence, the musical theatre singer-songwriter who wasted no time fitting into the local circuit, joining established local bands, The Bourbons UK and Clyve and the Soul City Foundation, teams up Bristolian country singer-songwriter Zoe Newton to pinch-punch April at the Pump.

Zoe Newton at Bradford Roots Festival

Whereas, in the name of variety I’m surprised to see The Town Hall hosting a “rum and reggae night” on Saturday April 2nd; it’s as if they’re calling to me! Seriously though, I’d wager youngsters reading this are asking Siri what the hell a shoehorn is.

But nice surprises flow, as Gavin Osborn himself plays The Pump, Friday 8th, with his band Comment Section. Regulars at Stallard’s, locally-based indie-rockers Riviera Arcade arrive at the Town Hall with Gloucestershire’s electric-punk favourites, Chasing Dolls on Saturday, with (udated) Devizes/Swindon NervEndings headling the show.

NervEndings

Alcopops Records’ Croydon duo, The Frauds play the Pump on the 15th, with Ipswich’s experimental indie-pop darlings, Lucky Number 7, while Henry Wacey and Dan O’Farrell are there on Saturday. Surreal stand-up, Welsh hard rockers The Vega Bodegas are at the Town Hall on the Saturday, with support from Wiltshire-based metal trio newcomers, Last Alvor and self-confessed “degenerates,” synth-punk noise-makers Benzo Queen.

If that weekend is atypical of what I’d expect Mr Moore to assign, the following, Saturday 23rd is different. Kieran is no stranger to asking what acts local giggers would like to see via social media, as Brighton’s Chap-Hop legend Professor Elemental comes to the Town Hall, with support from my recommendation, Bristol’s fantastic veganomic ska-punk-folk crazies, Boom Boom Racoon, who’ve we fondly followed in the past on Devizine.

Boom Boom Racoon

If I’m excited with boom boom coming soon, while “Sunday league” songwriter Tom Jenkins finishes off April on Saturday 30th, May is positively booming too. Local soul-hip hop DJ, Mac-Llyod gets the crowd prepped for another of my personal favourites, Bristol’s bouncy boom-bap virtuosos The Scribes, on Saturday 7th May. Aching to encourage these guys a gig more local than Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, I’m delighted to see this on Trowbridge Town Hall’s listing; they’re definitely calling to me now!

Pan-European ‘inventive and thrilling’ alt-folk duo, singer-songwriter Tobias Jacob and double-bass playing multi-instrumentalist Lukas Drinkwater play the Pump on Thursday 12th May, whereas I’m notified Saturday 14th’s do at the Town Hall will be a “pipe and slippers rave,” of which I had to inquire if, as it sounds, it’ll be an old skool DJ rave type thing, and this it was confirmed, “that’s exactly it.” If they’re calling me, now they’re mocking; the feet in my slippers were stomping in mud when you were an itch, whippersnappers! “Honey, where’s my whistle and white gloves?”

Sheffield’s award-winning finger-style guitarist, Martin Simpson breathes some folk to the Pump on Friday 20th May, while the Town Hall blow cobwebs off with Trowbridge’s own hardcore metal quartet, Severed Illusions. With nine years under their belts, they opened for Hed PE at the now defaulted Beirkeller in Bristol, and played metal festivals’ assemblage M2TM. Joined by doomcore fourpiece Eyesnomouth, and Salisbury’s screaming metalcore Next Stop Olympus; that’s going to go off.

The Lost Trades

From here gigs are pencilled in, June sees Martin Carthy, Jon Amor with Kyla Brox, Hip Route and Billy & The Low Ground feature, but be certain the near-future looks bright and varied for Trowbridge’s live music scene, particularly as the last gig of May is our beloved folk-harmony trio The Lost Trades on Saturday 28th. Bring in the summer with Graham Steel’s award-winning Phil, Jamie and Tamsin, what more could you ask for?


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Devizine 4 Julia’s House; Volume 2 in the Pipeline, Need Your Help!

I’m delighted to transfer £186.46 over to Julia’s House Children’s Hospices today, the proceeds to-date of our compilation album; well, I call it an album, but it’s one mahoosive boxset really, a staggering forty-six tracks from local artists and others worldwide who’ve featured somewhere on Devizine in the past.

If you’ve not heard this absolutely stunning Miss World of music before, a virtual Now, That’s What I Call Devizine Music, she’s here for your viewing pleasure, please download your copy, exclusive on Bandcamp, as I feel this site offers the best deal to artists. Once you buy it, it stores in your account cloud, and you have unlimited downloads, so you can put it onto various devices.

Unlike a fundraising event, here is something which will stay in the domain, something you can download whenever you like, and we’ll continue to build a little stash and send it over to this wonderful registered charity once it builds up again. If I’m honest, I’ve been waiting for it to total to a nice round £200 before sending, but attention on the project has waned recently, and it’s been a while.

There are ways I could prompt folk towards it, a poster or flyer campaign would be handy, but I figure, as lots of bands and musicians expressed an interest to be included, after its release, time is nigh to start plotting a second volume.

As we penned all the acts onto an army surplus bag for the front cover, as many students in my era did just this, I thought we’d do similar this time. So, see our old school desk below, eerily free of graffiti? It is aching for me to inscribe your band name or logo onto it, with chewed biro.

You should note we have three tunes for volume 2 already, from Nick Harper, yes, I said Nick Harper, the wonderful Onika Venus, and Marlborough rockers, Catfish. But we need you onboard too. I envision it being entirely new artists, so if you contributed a track to volume one, I sincerely thank you, but unless you’re absolutely bursting with enthusiasm to forward a second song, let’s try to compile a whole new set of artists.

What got to me last time, was the unexpected amount of work I’d set myself. There was me, at the beginning, thinking I’d just be bobbing about, enjoying the ride, while our contributing artists did all the hard labour!

It occurred to me at the time, I’d likely raise better funds riding through town in a bathtub full of cold baked beans, and while I’ve certainly not scrubbed the idea, I would like this compilation project to build into a series, really prompting and promoting the best of the music we feature on Devizine, and giving the good folk out there a sampler of what great music there is, as well as raising funds for such a brilliant charity; it’s a double-whammy. Ergo, sending us a song will put you straight onto the good list!

So, I ask, if you want to contribute a song, please bear with, and I’ll be back in touch as soon as possible, but last time I was inundated. Streamlined, that’s the key here, so I’ve set out some guidelines to contributing below.

Firstly, we NEED original songs, NO COVERS, not even Chas & Dave ones, as copyright is a minefield. You must own the rights to the song, or have permission from everyone who owns the rights to it, and you MUST TELL ME THIS, see the form at the bottom.

Secondly, please remember this is a children’s charity, and while Julia’s House has been accepting of all the styles and content, really, I don’t want songs with unsuitable themes, or constant bad language. Willing to accept the odd naughty word, and extreme content should be avoided, thanks.

Thirdly, any genre is fine; I want to get a real cross-section of sounds, no pigeonholing. While some chose to record an exclusive song, and that was great, all I ask is for an album track or outtake not currently doing the rounds, but you’re free to choose whatever one suits you best.

Fourthly, there is NO DEADLINE set as of yet, but I will email you once one is decided; please do not wait for the deadline if you can help it; last time I got confused where I stood on so many promised contributions, and it doesn’t take a lot of confuse me.

And, oh fifthly, if that’s not already too much to take in already?! Please ensure you include how you’d like the song to be listed, i.e. Name of Artist and Song. Sounds rather obvious, but also, if I don’t know you already, send some links to websites, social media, and a short bio too!

You can copy and paste this passage below into an email, fill in the dotty bits, and send it to me at devizine@hotmail.com – attach a WAV file format of the song you’d like me to add, and wait patiently for a reply; I look forward to hearing your song; you flipping superstar, you!

I, (FULL NAME) confirm I’m the full copyright holder of the track (ENTER SONG NAME) or that I have contacted any other parties which holds rights to the track and have gained their permission also. 

I hereby grant Darren Worrow of Devizine, my permission to use it as part of the 4 Julia’s House Volume 2 compilation album, fundraising for Julia’s House. Registered Charity Number 1067125. I also agree to allow clips of the track to be used for promotional purposes of the album mentioned above only.

In turn, Darren Worrow and Julia’s House maintain the artist of the track reserves all rights to the track, and it is only used in conjunction with the aforementioned album.

(If you have PRS details, Tunecode or ISWC, please add them.)


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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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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?”

Jon Amor to Take Up Sunday Residency at The Southgate

Featured images by Nick Padmore

I still remember landlord Deborah’s face aglow some years back, when she told me Devizes blues legend Jon Amor was booked to play The Southgate. He’s made several appearances since, as solo and as frontman of King Street Turnaround, but today the Southgate announced Jon will take up a Sunday residence at the lively Devizes pub…..

It will be a quieter New Year’s Eve for the Southgate, there is no music booked and from Monday 3rd to Monday 10th January the pub will be closed. “We’re keeping it simple on NYE, no live music, believe it or not!” Deborah said. “But we’re saving the best of the best until Sunday with a mega Blues/Funk/Rock gig to blow away the extended hangovers!

With an awesome line-up on Sunday 2nd, as Jon is joined with Innes Sibun, Pete Gage, Jerry Soffe, and Tom Gilkes, I knew about this little marvel, and it has been up on our calendar for a while now. What I didn’t know is this will build a new house band for the Gate, “yes,” Deborah delights to inform, “Jon Amor and friends are taking up residency! Sunday afternoon gigs, first Sunday every month for 2022.”

So expect to see King Street Turnaround with Jon and friends on the first Sunday of each month down the Gate, which is some great news!

The future is bright, the future is The Southgate! Reopening on Tuesday 11th Jan, with the absolutely awesome rock covers band Triple JD Band on Saturday 15th! Rock on!

Dave and Deborah at the Southgate

Meanwhile our event calendar is building up with choices for New Year’s Eve, do check it out for links, and have a great New Year; hopefully might catch you down the Southgate on Sunday, if I’m allowed out to play by the boss!

Billy Green (solo) @ The Hourglass, Devizes

Devizes Scooter Club NYE Party @ Devizes Cons Club

New Year’s Eve @ The Vaults

New Year’s Eve @ Massimos, Devizes

Rip it Up @ The Greyhound, Bromham

Sour Apple @ The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve

Six O’clock Circus @ The Talbot, Calne

The Roughcut Rebels NYE bash @ The Churchill Arms, West Lavington

New Year’s Eve Party @ The Green Dragon, Market Lavington

Illingworth @ the Waterfront Bar, Pewsey

Get Schwithty (Jamie R Hawkins & Phil Cooper) @ The Bear, Marlborough

80s, 90s, 00s NYE Party @ Wellington Arms, Marlborough

Deathproof Audio NYE Party @ the Vic, Swindon

Dubsouls & The Rumble-O’s @ The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath

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Paul Lappin & The Keylines Live at Pink Moon Studios

If you need a breather from the perpetual cycle of cliche Christmas song mush, do yourself a favour; Paul Lappin & The Keylines released a live EP last week, it’s as “name your price” on Bandcamp, and I’ll wager my Christmas stocking and all of its contents, you’ll eternally thank me for the advice.….

On the 12th November 2021 Paul Lappin & The Keylines invited a few close friends and family to Pink Music Studios in France for a chilled evening of wine, food and live music. This EP is a recording of five of the songs performed during that session. For a tenacious link to our ambiguous local rule, note while now residing in France, Paul is originally from Swindon.

Back in October 2020 we fondly reviewed his studio album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, celebrating its vibrant Britpop rock, immersed in some astute and genius song writing prose. And in turn, we were allowed to use the outstanding single Broken Record for our Julia’s House charity compilation. For which, you might suggest, I’m duty bound to sing the praises of everyone who contributed, to which I’d reply, yeah, only partly but unnecessary, just shut up and listen to this; Live at Pink Moon Studios is utterly gorgeous.

If Broken Record packs a punch, and The Boy Who Wants to Fly meanders between forthright rock and tenderer acoustics, this little piece of wonderful revels in the latter. So much so, it smooths out of the restrictions of a label like Britpop, though subtle shards of it remain, and is comparable to acoustic folk rock from way beyond the subgenre, say, as steady and emotive as Nick Drake.

In the past I’ve made comparison to our own song-writing local legend Jamie R Hawkins, in their shared ability to twist a narrative so deeply into sentiment, tears will well; this EP comes closer to my point than I’ve ever heard from Paul. It’s so wonderfully placed subjects, wistfully glides your mind away, on the journey with Paul, like all good acoustic should.

The first two tunes, After the Rain, and Lying Awake in the Dark both come unplugged versions from The Boy Who Wants to Fly, Slow and Steady featured on his 2018 album, Move On, and I’m uncertain of the last two, Seeds of Doubt and Set in Stone, perhaps they’re new, or exclusive to this EP. I’m far from all out intending to research their origin, as it’s just to easy to be set adrift on the songs, relishing in the moment.

Morish simplicity, man and guitar composition you’ll crave it never ends, and I can honestly say, I don’t think I’ve hit the replay button with such haste before! Paul is at his dreamiest, fluffiest and virtually subterranean in his deliverance of these masterpieces.

Subjects not so unusual but handled with the proficiency to wow, of lost or found love, picking up with a bongo drumbeat and wailing electric backing guitar at track three, Slow and Steady, with a chorus dripping of anthemic Britpop, of Oasis or Verve in their prime, yet maintaining that spellbinding acoustic goodness.

And for the last two tunes of mysterious origins, are perhaps my favourites, Seeds of Doubt, is a self-analysis theme, mind-bogglingly passionate, and the parable soulful finale, Set in Stone, as is with a live album, there’s a wholesome rawness about it, echoing honesty and scrupulousness throughout, you feel like you’re a guest into a secret meeting, you feel a part of it, and that, is simply, beautiful.


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Running with a Timid Deer

An absolutely spellbinding new electronica jazz-blues single out this week, of which I’d expect nothing less from what I believe to be one of Wiltshire’s most underrated bands, Salisbury’s Timid Deer, and produced by the brilliant Jason Allen.

With 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.

Run, their first single since February’s Crossed Wires, and they never cease to amaze me. This is cooler than the climate outside, just beautiful. “Here’s something we’ve been working on for what feels like an age,” Timid Deer say, finishing by saying they’re aiming for a new EP early in New Year, and for some Salisbury gigs, but I say no, please gig organisers, let’s get these guys aiming much further afield too; we need to see you in Devizes (Deborah Bufton Barnett, Ian Hopkins and Phil Moakes, I’m talking to you, make my Christmas wish come true!) Trowbridge, (Mr Moore) too!


And yes, Find Timid Deer with 45 other amazing artists on our 4 Julia’s House Compilation by clicking here!

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Old Habits of Treetop Flyers

Mega-retrospective bliss, this album from London’s Treetop Flyers, got me reminiscing…..

An expression of mixed emotions hung on my dad’s face as he sauntered past my bedroom. “What you listening to?” he grumbly enquired. He’s joined the dots between my music listening habits and his diminishing record collection, “yeah? I used to have that album….”

Property is theft for the anarchist, least this isn’t even theft, just relocated within the same household, and I’d like to think, flattery and the notion his records were getting revitalised befell my father. Not my fault this was the mid-eighties, a void between creative post-punk electronica and house, when we, the youth, were fully aware the hit factories was mugging us off with a monotonous catalogue of samey bullshit. Finding good music prior to my own days was a must, and we hadn’t YouTube, we just had these treasure chests of hand-me-down records.

Everything about Treetop Flyers’ new album, Old Habits suggests I should despise it, yet nothing could be further from the truth. The divine retrospection delivered the aforementioned fond memory; close your eyes and you can see the Ronco logo revolving at 33rpm on a mahogany music centre. My mind even sees the autochanger arm hinged aside. The only gender neutrality in the seventies was hair length; ladies played singles, men albums, big, hairy men with chest rugs you could lose a prawn cocktail in. And Old Habits could’ve nested between those long-players, not looking out of place.

This is Old Habits’ follow-up to 2018’s critically acclaimed eponymous album, which held a distinct American West Coast vibe, yet Old Habits moves away from this, guiding into the wonderous era of seventies British rock n roll pop; absorbing late mod soul, subtly hinting at psychedelia, but wallowing in Carnaby Street cool. Just like its influences, the Faces, Van Morrison, George Harrison, The Who, Ronnie Lane and Traffic, Treetop Flyers has produced a mellowed masterpiece now, which if it was recorded back then, would remain equally classic.

You will tingle akin to the saxophone riff of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street throughout this absolutely spellbinding journey, that much I guarantee. Treetop Flyers were formed in 2013 by frontman Reid Morrison, Laurie Sherman and Sam Beer, who met whilst playing in other projects as part of the West London folk scene. I went in blind, this is their fourth studio album, I was unaware of them, I came out the other side overwhelmed with a sense bliss.

From the off, Golden Hour, the opening track sets the scene; drumbeat retrospectively sublime, the piano and guitar combo marries, vocals enchantingly cool, and the tempo of each following tune blends into another; you’ll be tingling by the second tune, Dancing Figurines, hooked by the third.

If the horn-blowing Cool Your Jets is the most upbeat and beguiling, with essences of scooter culture, Castlewood Road calibrates the whole album and brings it to an apex. It’s dripping of Curtis Mayfield, or how you’d like a later Weller song. The theme is a street on Stoke Newington which the band’s lead guitarist Laurie Sherman lives, and the accompanying video was shot in Laurie’s house. “There have been many a British song about places where people lived or grew up and this is our kinda take on that,” explains Morrison. “We spent a lot of time there over the years writing and chatting, drinking coffee listening to records etc and Laurie actually mixed the new album (Old Habits) in that house too. So, I guess it’s a love song and thank you to those walls really.”

After a couple of listens I’m determine to dive deeper into this, and come out singing the songs; if you need me, I’ll be in a beige flowery shirt flowing across an oversized belt buckle, slouching in the corner of the front-room of a house party in 1976, next to the lava lamp, bellbottoms swishing, with headphones fit for Godzilla affixed, paying attention to nothing other than this absolutely gorgeous album.


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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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Barry Reviews Strange Folk at The Southgate!

Well, what can I say? They might lose a couple of brownie points for the singer continuously referring to me as “Barry,” but Somerset-Hampshire psych-folk rock four-piece, Strange Folk, who graced Devizes’ Southgate’s little magic box last night can afford to!

Aside an acoustic set in Crewkerne, it was their first electric gig post-lockdown, and the first time they’d played at Devizes answer to the O2, though some may cast their minds back to a brighter sunny day when they showed us what they’re made of at Pete & Jackie of Vinyl Realm’s alternative stage at DOCA’s street festival. It was on the grounds of this outstanding performance which summon me to the Gate, not forgoing the awe-inspiring tune they sent us for the Julia’s House compilation. Which, in turn would’ve substituted any lost gold stars for the Barry banter!

A small price to pay to ensure they played Glitter the very song they kindly contributed, a request which took them by surprise, being recorded during lockdown, they were unprepared, and hadn’t yet played it live. Still, as was the entire gig, they made a grand job of it, and I’m about explain why.

It’s David Setterfield’s sublime electric and acoustic guitarwork coupled with the awe-inspiring power of Annalise’s voice, which bounds their sound beyond the confounds of the usual gothic-folk rock genre. So soulfully captivating is this voice, and is the gifted guitar, at times there’s a natural nod to electric blues, particularly of the late psychedelic sixties sort. In fact, I was praising them to someone, Bran Kerdhynen, I believe, one half of the Celtic Roots Collective, by suggesting they remind me of “White Rabbit,” which they indeed later covered, along with the other Jefferson Airplane anthem “Somebody to Love.”

If I could think of no other cover so apt for their particular and inimitable sound, covers of T-Rex’s 20th Century Boy, Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac, and the Stones at their most enchanting with Gimmie Shelter, also fit the bill perfectly. Tainted Love being perhaps the outside chance, but very much based on Soft Cell’s version, I’ll give them that too, for the goth perspective.

Similarly, though, as I said about Frey’s Beer’s Beast album a few days ago, the professional finish and hauntingly alluring female voice, rather than the gritty vocals common with said genre, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured, because Strange Folk sweep the arena of All About Eve, into System of a Down and Blind Melon, to blend Fairport Convention with Jethro Tull and Hendrix. And I was born out of time, loving to have hitchhiked to San Francisco with a flower in my hair.

Yet at times covers at the Gate last night felt pushed, as to appease a perceived audience, compared to their own original compositions; they were the icing on the cake and truly ushered you away on a petite mind-trip. The coupling of David and Annalise would be bare without the proficient bassist, Ian and drummer, Steve tucked in the back of the skittle ally, and they rocked through their own songs more so. For future reference, unlike many a pub gig, originals are encouraged here.

Talking of here, it was lovely to be back at the Southgate after gallivanting somewhat to bring news of other venues in our rural precinct, for while they do exist, for me, just like Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, except, it seems for the lead singer on this occasion! I mean, Barry, for crying out loud; do I really look like a Barry to you?! Rhetorical, you don’t have to answer that.

The canopies over the beer garden have become locally legendary, a testament in our town, to upholding live music throughout this era, and Deborah and Dave have created this haven, where you’ll see no drunken squabbles and feel no bad vibes.

Nice to hear their communal acoustic jams have respawned on Wednesday evenings, and next Saturday is the time for The Blind Lemon Experience, Billy and the Low Ground following on the 23rd October.

Meanwhile Strange Folk have three singles, an EP from 2014 called Hollow Part 1, and a debut promo EP from 2004, which are very worthy of your attention. Around our way again at B-O-A’s Three Horseshoes for Halloween, their sound is a gorgeous gothic-folk crossover professional enough to captivate even those with a passing interest in the genre.


Freya Beer’s Beast

Driving my inner-goth, I’m comfortable with this, because London-based Freya Beer’s voice is hauntingly alluring, similar to Nina Persson of The Cardigans, or more obviously, Siouxsie Sioux, rather than the gritty vocals common with arch art-rock. So, despite not being the black hair dyed and leather friendship bands type, I devoured this long-awaited debut album, Beast, with the emotive response it evokes, and thoroughly deserves cathedral-sized praise.

Beast is out today, 7th October 2021, via her own Sisterhood label. I’m going to nail it to a few words after only an initial listen prior to this review, lyrically it needs time to fully digest with the clarity it warrants, but I can appreciate the echoing expression and exceptionally grafted narrative of disheartening passion. Savour it, this is a keeper.

It’s perhaps the crashing drums, almost the Burundi style slued upon eighties post punk pop by Malcolm McLaren, through Bow Wow Wow and Adam & The Ants, added with Fuzzbox frenzy, which gives it this welcoming retrospective tangent, or the mainstay All About Eve feel of the aforementioned sublime vocals, like Kate Bush at her darkest moment.

Yes, Beast is all these things, yet a contemporary, calculated record of primal power and animalistic instinct, carnal; hence its name, I guess!

Expressing her joy at finally setting her first collection of songs free, Freya Beer said, “it feels really exciting that I’ve released my debut album. I would never have been able to achieve the album without the incredibly talented people I met and worked with along the way. At my upcoming live shows, you can expect everything you hear on the album because my band is bigger now.”

Recorded between studios in Manchester and London, ‘Beast’ features longstanding drummer Owain Hanford on percussion, Arnoldas Daunys on bass, and lead guitars from Peter Hobbs (The Boy Least Likely To), who also produced the album. Additional contributions come from Dave Fidler and Andy Hargreaves. The album artwork was photographed by Paul Johnson (Say Goodnight Films), accompanied by Jupiter – the Sphinx cat.

Swiftly following the album’s release, Freya will be embarking on a major UK tour throughout November and December 2021. Full dates and details on the website. Closest to us is The Lanes, Bristol on Wednesday 10th November, or on Sunday 5th December at The 1865 in Southampton.

It conjures visually like Hieronymus Bosch, literate, a tangle of Edgar Allan Poe, but through sensual masochism, felinely elegant but eerie, all unpromising, like goblins will materialise out of inimical misty woods to corrupt your most emotive moment, or, something like that!

Website: http://www.freyabeer.com

Facebook: @freyabeerofficial

Twitter: @freyabeer

Instagram: @freya_beer


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