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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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Two-Tone Icons, The Beat Coming to Swindon and Frome

With Ranking Junior now taking centre stage, the mighty Beat will be heading on tour, taking Swindon, Bournemouth, Leeds, and Hull to get audiences dancing to some of the most famous ska and reggae tracks ever written.….

Ah yes, did a song called “Stand Down Margaret,” if memory serves me well; perhaps a change of name and a little history repeating, fingers crossed.

One of the key bands in the UK ska revival of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, The Beat still bring the near-perfect balance of pop melodies and taut rhythms that made them stars and won them worldwide acclaim.

Based in Birmingham, The Beat released their Smokey cover debut single “Tears of a Clown” through The Specials’ 2-Tone label in 1979. The single went Top Ten in the UK and they soon struck a deal with Arista to distribute on their own Go Feet label.

Their debut studio album ‘Just Can’t Stop’ went Gold in England, and included the now-cult single “Mirror In The Bathroom”. The band’s ferocious live performances and clever blend of personal and political lyrics continue to make them stars to this day, and they’ll be diving into their back catalogue at these new year shows.

And they’re skanking up Swindon on Saturday January 7th, at Meca, tickets are up for grabs now. Also at the Cheese & Grain Frome on March 4th, which is (hint) close to my birthday! Tickets here.


The Bakesys, Thursday Night on my Television

The Bakesys have a new album out this week, to get your flux capacitor firing on all cylinders……

Though Perry Como got the ball rolling for a possible “10 songs which stick in your head” nonsense article today, I’ve been pleasantly reminded of eighties German outfit, Trio. A kind of poor man’s Europop Ian Dury, their only UK hit ‘Da Da Da’ definitely fits the bill.

But in turn it reminded me I’ve an album review to prioritise, a track on which reeks of Trio, and not the popular chocolate biscuit of the era. With its upfront ZX Spectrum game backbeat ‘Six O’clock Already‘ is like techno never happened; you can virtually see Jet Set Willy entering the banyan tree.

If you need Google to comprehend that reference, Newbury’s The Bakesys’ ‘Thursday Night on my Television,‘  might skyrocket over your head. Inspired by late eighties third wave ska bands, The Bakesys formed in 1990, and frontman Kevin Flowerdew is now editor of the superlative ska-zine ‘Do The Dog.’
I fondly reviewed their last outpouring, Sentences I’d Like To Hear The End Of, in which a variety of sixties news headlines are given a fourth gen ska makeover to poignant and danceable effect. This latest album is a different ballpark.

Through retrospective compilation, Thursday Night on my Television, relies entirely on that post-punk pop era, where no subgenre in the clutter of youth cultures could avoid the onslaught of electronica. It was a do-or-die age of experimentation, free of the trend of sampling. And unlike the previous Bakesys’ album, there are no samples, just rich of culture references harking of the kind of sounds dripping from that era, and deliberately clunky.


Fun Boy Three’s Our Lips are Sealed gets a counter-reaction, Molly Ringwald gets a mention, in a song akin to Kirsty McColl’s guy down the chip shop, and the best ballad themes around the subject of Bunking Off School, Jumping on Buses, leaving no doubts The Bakesys are either Dr Who, or lived this time, and are reminiscing on both reality-driven romance and fantasising, of John Hughes characters.

With shards of Two-Tone, new wave and post-punk, no pre-electronica subgenre is left behind, as it merges into this experimental period, this album will have you recollecting all from The Damned and The Beat, to Blancmange and Sparks, if you don’t remember ‘Beat the Clock,’ your memory will be jogged by this retrospective outpouring, and in the words of Kenny Everett, “all in the best possible taste!”

For it might take a couple of listens to be fully immersed, for what was avantgarde might now be cliché, The Bakesys home in with such a degree you’re drawn into reliving rather than attributing, like your Harrington jacket, Doc Martins and Fred Perry polo shirt have been hanging in your wardrobe all this time, waiting for you to stop staring at that fading Kim Wilde poster on your wall, and nip to the arcade to play some Space Invaders until a fight breaks out….. which kinda makes it alright.

But, it took me by surprise, expecting ska, when even the most ska-ish track, Money all the Time, has the electronic plod of Depeche Mode. It’s a synth-pop marvel, with a notion to matured retrospection, rather than delinquent melancholy, and it works on a level above the archetypal 80s tribute, to the point I’ll be avoiding white dog shit on the street, and I can smell that bubble gum you used to get in trading cards!


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Errol Linton at Long Street Blues Club

In a remarkable finale to the season for Long Street Blues Club, London-based The Errol Linton Band presented Devizes with a sublime lively blues blend of delta and RnB, incorporating jazz, funk, reggae and ska too. But if the band’s proficiency in implementing this melting pot sounds erratic, the perfection was in the precision of switching through subgenres. The result was simply infectious.…..

It’s rarely mused, given the contemporary influence of Jamaica’s musical export, that prior to reggae its route lies with the removal of shortwave radio stations provided for American soldiers stationed on the island after WW2. As they disembarked Jamaica they left a blossoming sound system culture, the entrepreneurs of which set up recording studios as supply of US 45s declined.

They pulled from the influences they heard, jump blues particularly, and within these walls is the fabled Duke Reid session with Prince Buster, whereby copying the offbeat experiments of Fats Domino and Barbie Gaye, as was popular on the sound systems, and riding the shuffle beat style of T Bone Walker, a timeout was called and the guitarist ended by running the shuffle backwards, accidently creating “the ska.”

Even less widely known; initially Duke Reid wasn’t in favour of ska, but as the government promoted it for tourism as “Jamaica’s first national sound,” obviously he felt he’d lose out if he didn’t follow the trend. So, pre-ska, and even during its explosion, the Jamaican studios continued to put out as wider variety of sounds as they heard on US Radio, from blues to doowop and even country. This is a necessary backstory to capture the ethos of Errol Linton and his band, as Errol and two-thirds of the band have Jamaican heritage, are keen to emphasis this, and however subtle, everything mentioned gets a nod in their performance.

Errol is also an accomplished artist, creating portraits of his influences gives clear indication of who he is citing, the blues legends, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Louis Armstrong and beyond. Yes, the band deviated from blues, to throw down a jazzy number, to increase levels of danceable funk, and with a narrative of Howlin’ Wolf visiting Jamaica, they covered Howlin’ For my Darling with a matchless ska offbeat. Particularly diverse was an original “Country Girl,” as while maintaining one-drop reggae, the chorus verged onto a dancehall riff. It was right up my street and knocking loudly on my door, but I paused to observe the more blues aficionado regulars enjoying it equally as much as I!

For all the diversity I’ve noted, and mentioned the pleasure was in how proficiently they switched, even mid-song, this tight arrangement was best at delivering blues, and did so second-to-none. Frontman Errol gliding between vocals and harmonica, cherry-capped pianist Petar Zivkovic lightening on the keys, Lance Rose in porkpie hat, chilled on the upright double bass, perfectionist timekeeper Gary Williams on drums, and guitarist Richey Green presented the funkiest dancing show during play, the combo was spellbinding.

But none of this happened before Devizes-own Adam Woodhouse delivered the textbook support slot. Confident, despite his first outing at this blues appreciation society in which regulars will aim all eyes on you, Adam kicked off with an Elvis rendition of That’s Alright Mama, and with top-notch finger picking, continued covers with a remarkable Johnny Cash. Adam, a regular soloist at The Southgate and attendee of their celebrated Wednesday jam session, had some originals of his own, which were executed with panache.

A most memorable evening was had, in which frontman Errol reigned the moment, showing this natural ability accomplished over thirty years, since a busker of London’s streets. This is British blues at its finest, individually stylised yet heavily drawing from his roots, a perfect blend to homage his heritage, entertain and packaged in such a non-pretentious manner, you couldn’t dislike it; impossible!

An absolutely blinding night for the Long Street Blues Club, organiser Ian Hopkins’ smile said it all, as he clarified he’s been trying to book these guys for a while, and made a promise to the crowd they’d return; you need to be there when it does. The next season starts on 20th August, with anticipated return of Skinny Molly. Worth mentioning though, being we’ve discussed the early stages of Jamaican sound systems and Duke Reid’s Treasure Ilse, competitor Coxsone Dodd over at Studio One gave fame to a majority of reggae artists, yes, including Bob, and another crowned King of Rock Steady, Alton Ellis, that Alton’s son, Troy is on in Hillworth Park around about 3pm today. So, get your sandals on, unless you remain adamant nothing ever happens in Devizes!


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

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

Song of the Day 43: Lollipop Lorry

As promised/threatened (delete as appropriate) I’m continuing on with the pledge to relaunch the Song of the Day feature, and today proves ska is universal.

From Yekaterinburg in Russia, Lollipop Lorry have worked their way to the top of the international ska scene over a twelve year period, getting kudos through a tour of Mexico this year, where the scene is at its apex.

It’s refreshingly fun and carefree sunshine music, as ska should be, and this tune is out today. If anyone could translate I might know the subject, but the amusing speed dating video suggests a frustrating man-hunt! You just have to pick one, Svetlana, we really are all that rubbish, (excluding myself obviously!)

They first caught my attention and affection three years ago when covering the Gaylettes’ rock steady classic, Silent River (Runs Deep) in which one third of Bob Marley’s backing singer trio, The I-Threes, Judy Mowatt takes the lead vocal. Judy’s range is such that this was no easy feat, which front lady Svetlana made a cracking job of, in a sultry and distinctly Russian tinge; I’m smitten, don’t tell the trouble and strife… long distance relationships never work out!

Give their Facebook page a Like!

No Bad Press for Captain Accident & The Disasters

Top marks and a gold star for this album, released tomorrow, Friday 20th August; Bad Press, of which you’ll hear no such thing as bad press from me, and I’d be interested in how anyone could find an angle to do such. Yet if the title is subtle irony, more so is the band name, Captain Accident & The Disasters.

From the band name alone it’s understandable for one to perceive their output as comical or zany, but far from it. Here is some sublime, concentrated reggae and rock steady, bouncy and carefree, yes, but astutely written, covering some acute themes as well as the general tenet of rock steady; forlorn or unabridged romance. Neither am I willing to accept the talent here is any way an accident, and the band is anything but a disaster!

Twenty seconds into Bad Press is all you need to realise why David Rodigan speaks so highly of Cardiff’s Captain Accident & The Disasters, and they were invited back to tour with legends Toots & the Maytals after their 2016 UK tour, as the official full-tour support in 2017 and again in 2018. Which they did, and Captain Accident was asked to join the band onstage to perform Monkey Man on guitar. If it wasn’t for lockdown and the tragic passing of Toots Hibbert last year, they would have been on the European tour that year also.

Other than the wonderful sunshine reggae vibe, there’s not a great deal else going on in Bad Press, yet there’s no need to be. The band stick to the tried and tested formula, the mellow plod of traditional one-drop reggae, occasionally more steppers upbeat with only subtle ska or dub elements coming through. Note importantly, they do this with bells on. It doesn’t attempt to swerve off with experimentation. All tracks flow with precision and a highly polished sound produced with traditional instruments. At no time will Bad Press replicate a previous tune through dubplate principles, neither will a dancehall DJ toast over it, or a drum n bass riff be thrust unexpectedly at you; good, honest and exceptionally beautiful roots, rock reggae is what you get.

If themes reflect lovers rock or rock steady on occasion, it’s nicely done, and in others, where more sombre subject matter arises there’s no militancy, rather the longstanding carefree reggae ethos of not worrying, dancing reservations away, as every little thing will be alright. Neither does Rasta etiquettes or such biblical or cultural references come into play, making this reggae for the masses as well as aficionados. It’s just, ah, tingly, and apt for all!

Despite the band’s output, three previous albums being self-produced, their beguiling festival friendly sound has rocketed their success with a national fan-base growing by the day. I fully believe Bad Press will seal the deal.

Ten songs strong, I couldn’t pick a favourite. As I believe I said, it flows, blessing your ears with inspirational sound. In Redemption Song familiarities the content of the opening tune casts an eye on Armageddon, but pessimism doesn’t deject or depress you, and the title, “Not the End of the World,” says it all. The aforementioned carefree attitude carries over with the catchy “Best Shoes,” the upbeat melody cutting to plod as Captain Accident aptly quotes Marley, “when the music hits you, you feel no pain.”

And such is unswaying general premise throughout, returning to one-drop for the beautiful “Playing Field,” which truly showcases the writing skill on righteousness and equality. Swapping back to the common hopeless romantic theme, “Wings,” will melt you, like the referenced wings of Icarus. Followed by the most ska-ish, the buoyant “Miami Incorporating.”

There is nothing here to rightfully label this with bad press, perhaps the blithest tune being the “Dark n Stormy,” with a rum subject, there’s a real Caribbean feel, yet the most interestingly intertwined is the rock-inspired guitar previous song, “Puttin’ Up a Fight,” because it clarifies this “reggae for all,” notion I’ve attempted to convey. I hope this comes across, especially in these local parts where the genre is often misunderstood and misrepresented. If your knowledge of reggae doesn’t extend much past Bob Marley & The Wailers in their international prime, you will love this. Yet, for bods like me, a humongous enthusiast, it fills me with a glorious passion that the traditional aspects of reggae will never be lost in a sea of dancehall, reggaeton and dubstep.

Ah, they’re all worthy, to me, but aside, reggae got soul, and you NEED this album in your life!


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Idiot Music, is the Monkey’s Bizzle

This is isn’t the favoured way to start a review, but this is idiot music for stupid people, if you think this is stupid then you’re a fucking idiot, and that’s a quote, from the opening title tack, which ends on, “oh, there it is, up my bum; can I eat it now?”

If Goldie Looking Chain is all too millennial, but hip hop, for you, should be served with massive chunks of deadpan sauce, west country tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and general silliness, Monkey Bizzle’s debut album, Idiot Music might just be the thing to pick off the menu.   

Through the Pythonesque nature of Idiot Music though, wailing guitars, proficient drumming (from Cerys of the Boot Hill All Stars), and substantial dope beats means this is far from amateurish, and will rock the festival circuit. In fact, the Somerset five-piece sold out the album launch party at The Barge on Honeystreet a fortnight ago; I see why. This drips with Scrumpy & Western charm, like Gloucestershire’s Corky, Wurzels meets the Streets, the elements of “agricultural” hip hop make this apt for our local crusty scene. Yet with wider appeal, it is, simply, parental advisory fun.

Primates tend to be a running theme, a particularly danceable funky signature tune named Monkey Funk, a King Kong themed rap, another including David Attenborough samples. There are also drug references aplenty, the reggae-inspired Heavy, or Doves (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) needs no explaining, but in it, it mocks the chav culture in such a way you may’ve thought only Goldie Looking Chain could. Something it’ll inevitably be compared to, but more so than the humour drafting this side of the Seven, what makes this so appealing is its nod of respect to hip hop rather than mocking it, is greater than that of Goldie Looking Chain, in a similar way there’s was with Beastie Boy satirists Morris Minor and the Majors, if you get as old skool as I!

One thing’s for sure, Monkey Bizzle isn’t to be taken seriously, but for the most part it’s listenable to as a hip hop album rather than pure novelty too, unique rappers Skoob and James make this so, especially as the album trickles on, both CU Next Tuesday and Ha Ha Ha being particularly entertaining, Oi Mate ripples with The Streets’, Give Me My Lighter Back but under a ska riff.

Nothing here is going to become next summer’s banging anthem on Radio One’s Big Weekender, an honour they’re clearly not bothered by or striding towards. To face facts, what you get is a full album of highly entertaining flip-flop and amusing lyrics of daring themes, wrapped by gifted musicians only playing the fools. And for which, Idiot Music has got my name all over it!


Girls Go Ska; Frente al Mar!

Rude girls grito! Far from home perhaps, but so, so worth mentioning for tropical vibes of rock steady and ska in a fashion proportionately you’ll find hard to come by around these parts, it’s my beloved all-girl-bar-one Mexican ska band, Girls Go Ska with a bran-new album Frente al Mar. Girls and ska, what’s not to like?!

From the off, the title track simply melts, mellowly, and builds in tempo, but is never overdramatic; “cool” is the operative word; fresco! If I’ve put them on a pedestal before, they’ve now put another couple of pedestals atop it. Often steady paced for the genre, it proves ska, while upbeat doesn’t have to be full of macho-bravura skinheads, or a frenzied rancour attack against dogmatic tyranny it’s often misperceived here through the eighties’ second-generation Two-Tone scene, and within the dominate contemporary ska-punk internationally. I’ve made this point in the past when penning a more general piece about ska and reggae in South America, in which Girls Go Ska were featured.

Girls go Ska

Frente al Mar is breezy, bright and fun, light-hearted and beguiling. It roots the genre to its original Jamaican ethos, as a carefree dance music. Though, there’s a large chunk of assumption with those observations, as my Spanish isn’t up to scratch, so my presumption rests on the design, the album name, which translates to the seaside, basically, and mood of the vocals; if they’re singing about anything other than romantic themes and enjoying oneself dancing on a tropical beach, like making political statement, it certainly doesn’t sound that way! You just have to enjoy the professionality and untroubled vibe this album breezes in your direction, it’s gorgeous, and it absolutely skanks!

Packaged femininely in loud pink and decorated with cute shōjo manga, rather than our typecast black and white chequered trade identity with Walt Jabsco splashed all over, Frente al Mar provides an alternative to norm, but is no way attributes the “fairer sex,” rather riot grrrl kick-ass in tenet, gender-neutral in sound. Not that punk comes into play; throughout it’s steadfast traditional ska sound, one should credit Studio One rather than Two-Tone, or even Reel Big Fish for, there’s also sprinklings of Latino sound traditional to Mexico, of ranchera, norteño and their contemporary offshoots, but are subtle and likely naturally occurring.

Imagine, if your English mind will adapt, Gloria Estefan performing ska, and you’re nearer to the mark than The Specials. But no, eight sublimely flowing tunes is what you get, a sun-kissed blessing on the ear, in the style of brass-based rock steady and good ol’ ska. While pukka boys, Death of Guitar Pop are currently returning the welcomed Nutty-Boys-esque frivolous and fairground ska home for lads, further afield, here comes the girls.

Meanwhile here in my hometown of Devizes, the newly opened rum bar, The Muck & Dundar has been a roaring success, proving a taste of the tropical is welcomed, ergo, taken out of its context and origins, Frente al Mar would make the perfect soundtrack to it. Me? I’m smitten, with a little crush!


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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

Ska-Punk-Folk-Whatever, From The Before Times, with Boom Boom Racoon

Blagging biros and stationery from banks and post offices, we’ve all been there, but few driven to pen a song about it. It’s one valid reason to love the righteous but riotous simplicity of Bristol-based anarchistic vegan folky-ska-punk misfits, Boom Boom Racoon.

Those aware, who thought 2018’s album by the trio, Now That’s What I Call Boom Boom Racoon vol1 was off the head, newly released Songs From The Before Times & Some More takes it to a whole other level. Lockdown raw, rougher and more in your arrogant, fat consumerist face than ever before; put that sausage roll down and prepare to be barked at with a charming slice of satire and counterculture commentary.

Now reading that paragraph back makes it all seem so terrible, but under a blanket punk term, which only goes some way to pigeonhole the unpigeonholeable, irony is abound and Boom Boom Racoon are quite the opposite. This is nine three-minute plus enthrallingly exciting rides, and is undoubtedly entertaining to say the least.

Mixing rum and coffee, ie. turbo mocha time, Covid19-related Public Service Announcement 2020, are the lighter, comical subjects.

Whereas tightening border control in States and Nations, laboratory animal testing in Cages, human unecological practices compared to dinosaur extinction, and another anti-capitalist rant on how difficult it is to be sustainable in the modern era, are the more sombre and acute subjects, setting the world to rights.

And the way they work it, the words they’ve planned go against the homemade rawness of the sound. This isn’t off-the-cuff, there’s ingenious wordplay and poignant messages hidden beneath the fun attitude. The abolition, against the psychological effect of imprisonment and a need to sustain numbers by reforming laws to create criminals, for example, Boom Boom Racoon touch on radical notions or campaigns, and are fearless to state their core values.

Anthropocene it, Say it, Sorted probably carries the most poignant message, and is also the only track which has an amusing sample, unlike the previous aforementioned more polished album which has more, from The Simpsons to Harry Potter. And it comes in the shape of a rather stumblingly polite call from Kent Police regarding an animal rights protest, which is highly amusing.

The album ends hilariously on the most brilliant retort from taunts by your average knuckle-dragging homophobic bigot, I’m certain you know the sort, completing the overall contemporary leftism and reformist ethos which, if you tag the piffle term “snowflake” onto, beware, the unity here is compounded into a masterfully literate snowball, and it’s a brown one, and it’s aiming at your face!

Myself, I’d love for these raccoon pests to come trash the bins of our narrowminded community and welcome the opportunity of our more daring venues to book them for a live performance on the theory, well, on the theory, they’d steal the show.


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Sentences I’d Like to Hear the End of, with the Bakesys

No matter the subject, a lesson is only as interesting as the teacher teaching it. Johnny Ball did the impossible, he made maths fun! Likewise, but more modern, Terry Deary’s books and subsequent CBBC show, Horrible Histories made what’s often perceived as a dull subject by pupils, somehow entertaining, amusing even. If Deary was my history teacher, rather than a thick-rimmed speccy, bearded beatnik with leather elbow patches on his tweed jacket, well, I might just have taken heed of their wisdoms.

Equally, if you want to teach history to a bunch of scooterist skinheads, consider employing The Bakesys, for they are a skanking Horrible Histories, at least for this new album, released last Thursday called Sentences I’d Like to Hear the End of.

Stu, Kevin & Bakesy onstage at Newbury College in December 1990!

Something of an elusive band despite twenty years presence on the UK ska scene, the early stages of The Bakesys reflected heavily on punk inspirations, such as the Buzzcocks, crossed with later developments of a definite Two-Tone influence. Sentences I’d Like to Hear the End of takes it to whole other level. Akin to what On-U Sound did for dub in the nineties, sprinkling in a counter culture punk ethos, The Bakesys do for ska. It’s more upbeat than the usual plod of dub, but strewn with samples, heavy basslines, and drum machine loops, it has its elements.

From another angle though, as Dreadzone meld such influences into the electronic dance scene, there’s a contemporary sound, a mesh of offbeat influences with the Bakesys, more in line with the current ska scene. The flood of brass and chugging rhythms confirms its allegiance to authentic 1960’s Jamaican ska. What comes out the end is unique beguiling buoyancy, and it’s absolutely addictive.

Yet we’re only scraping the surface of why, the theme of the album is the kingpin here. Reflecting the era of its influences, subjects are historic affairs based in the sixties. The opening title track raps of Christine Keeler and the Profumo Affair. Get Your Moonboots on is on Apollo 11’s moon landing, and the third, most haunting tune, You are Leaving the American Sector takes newsreels of the Berlin Wall. One I’ve been playing endlessly the single of on my Friday night Boot Boy radio show.

Atomic Invasion explores the Cold War, yet, as with Keeler, this sublime set of songs often concentrates more on the personalities than facts of the events. The Space Race is up next, with a nod to Yuri Gagarin’s luminary. Then it’s the Cuban Missile Crisis with the numerous failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, Cassius Clay’s rise to heavyweight champion of the world, and Robert F. Kennedy’s assignation.

Despite these often-dark subjects, it’s surprisingly upbeat, as if, like I said, The Bakeseys are the funky relief history teacher, and your class is about get moon stomping! The last three tracks offers dub versions of the most poignant tunes on offer here, yet the album as a complete concept is nothing short of brilliant.

The third CD album released on Bandcamp, and quite the best place to start if you’re unaware of them. Keyboardist Kevin Flowerdew, has self-published the ska scene’s definitive zine, Do The Dog Skazine for many decades, which has released this under its label namesake, Do the Dog Music, so he certainly knows what makes a great sound; which this does with bells on.

Mark, Stu & Bakesy backstage at the Epplehaus, Tubingen during The Bakesys’ June 1992 German tour.

Tribute Acts Going the Extra Mile; Blondie & Ska

One surprise track contributed for our forthcoming compilation album for Julia’s House, (yes, it’s going sluggish but well, thanks for asking!) comes from Chippenham’s part-Blondie-tribute-part-ska-covers duo, Blondie & Ska. It’s a solid, rock steady original, with the added bonus it sounds as if it could’ve been an album track from Parallel Lines, Plastic Letters or another Blondie album at the peak of their game.  

It’s given me the opportunity to have a chat with Dave Lewis, one half of the duo, on how they started doing what they do, pondering if you just wake up one morning and think, I know, I’m going to be tribute act. If Blondie & Ska actually see themselves wholly as a Blondie tribute act at all, given they not only record original songs, but in a unique slant, perform classic Two-Tone songs from the same period. But most importantly, answering some conundrums I’ve had since hearing a tune with a similar concept by UB40 tribute Johnny2Bad, about tribute acts going the extra mile and recording tracks in the fashion of their inspiration. I mean, is it deliberate that it sounds akin, or simply natural method given the music is based around imitating the act?

Certainly, Blondie & Ska wasn’t formed on a whim. For a decade prior to forming the duo, Lorraine and Dave were both co-members of various bands on the same circuit. The idea, Dave explained, “occurred over a number of phases,” and expressed, as a mod, his love for The Beat. Anxious not to live up to expectations of his idols, Dave continued, “playing ska, was one of those things, because you love it so much, you don’t want to go that direction, but when we kind of got dragged into it, there was no stopping us, because the more we did it, the more we loved doing it, and there was no reason to be nervous!”

In the band as well, was Steve Edge, who co-wrote our song. “Steve and I used to write back in the nineties,” Dave explained, chuffed to be reunited to write this track specifically for us. “And we performed as an originals band,” he enthusiastically continued.

After the originals band, Dave joined his drummer and played in a local blues band called No Ties, which Lorraine also started in, while Dave concentrated on a secondary band aptly named Band Two, which Lorraine would later join. It was there where Dave suggested the concept of Blondie & Ska to Lorraine, in 2013. “She replied, hum, I fancy having a go at that,” Dave revealed. “It took about six months to get rehearsed. We did our first gig, and thought, why didn’t we do this before?” They’ve been performing weekly as a duo act from Land’s End to Barnsley since, clocking up hundreds or appearances together.

I moved onto the question, given recording originals and this mixture of lateral ska tunes added to the Blondie tribute, if they even classed themselves at ‘tribute act’ in the same light as the run-of-the-mill ones. “It’s weird one,” he admitted, “I kind of call it that Blondie and ska sound. Whatever we tend to do, people say I didn’t expect it to be like that, but that’s way things are. If I’m going to do something, we want to do it in a different way.” It’s also practical, using pre-recorded sections such as drums and horns, Blondie & Ska can accommodate the smallest of venues, unlike a large ska band with a horn section. “The other thing which is difficult, with signature bands, is it’s hard work keeping the bands together,” Dave observed, a notorious hindrance with ska bands in particular.  

Dubious it would work at first, during lockdowns alternate Saturdays have seen regular blossoming live streams from Blondie & Ska. “We had over 10 thousand viewers on one,” Dave delighted, “which is bonkers! I think it was just a sign of the time, everyone was just at their computer!” For your attention, next one is tonight at 8pm (Saturday 22nd May) on Facebook, HERE. “If people don’t know us,” Dave suggested, “it’s always a nice test. We’ve been surprised by the positive feedback.”

There’s the thing with Blondie & Ska, and I put it to Dave without trying to cause offence, that though it’s unique, nothing they’re doing is particularly ground-breaking. They’ve no stars in their eyes, but the niche is they’re two musicians having a whole lot of fun, doing what they love doing. And this is what comes across, and why it sounds so good. “Absolutely,” he agreed, suggesting the original blues band was tiresome. “I wasn’t really up for anything after that, and later wanted to get back into the action. We’re doing it now because we enjoy doing it. The Blondie & Ska stuff, you know, the more we play, the more people ask, and more bookings we get in ska clubs, and our repertoire is pushed in that direction.” I laughed, so prolific was the Jamaican record industry during the ska era, there’s always going to be one trainspotter, like me (!) who comes up and asks for some obscure Coxsone rarity!

But in turn, that’s precisely the ethos of both ska, and seemingly Blondie’s music. Aside the political unrest occasionally portrayed in the Two-Tone ska revival of the eighties, the memorable songs come from a carefree perceptive of jollity, and like Madness and Bad Manners, ska is eternally dance music, from the very roots. Likewise, Blondie rarely, if at all, socially commented about anything more than romance.

Dave was so enthusiastic to chat about the reasoning and history behind Blondie & Ska, about the technicalities of recreating the perfect tribute sound, and appeasing the aficionados, we could’ve chatted forever, but I feel you need to witness them in the arena they love, rather than waffle some!

An interesting story surrounding the chosen name for the duo we finished on, as while setting up for an early gig, the organiser summed up the sound on the blackboard by chalking up “Blondie & Ska,” under the premise a lot of blond girls and a lot of male ska fans had turned up. “I was standing there, looking at the name on the poster,” Dave explained. “Lorraine was saying, can you just get on and set up, cos we’ve got to be playing in an hour?! I said, but look at the name on the poster, and she was going, no, get on with what you’re supposed to be doing!” But Dave approached the guy, knowing him through many past gigs, to ask him if he could use it. “The girls danced to the Blondie songs, and the guys danced to the ska,” he noted. Story checks out, the mix works. Tune into their live streams to find out for yourself, or here’s hoping to catch them at a real gig soon.


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Reggae Perfection; Winds of Matterhorn

Again, we find ourselves in the most unsuspecting part of the world to find the perfect reggae sound, Switzerland. Fruits Records release Winds of Matterhorn at the end of this month, 30th April.

Rather than the unanimous Rastafarian camp, Jamacia’s hills of Wareika, Swiss-Italian trombonist Mattbrass and producer Jackayouth have taken inspiration from the eminent mountain in the Alps for this four-track instrumental EP. Unlike the progressive nature of the Jamaican music industry, Fruits Records, as ever, find their penchant in a more classic sound. The tried-and-tested formula of roots reggae may be deemed old hat on the island of reggae’s origin, but no one can refute the global influence of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and the consequential epoch which followed.

The mechanics of the profound effect reggae’s golden era has had on music as a whole is inconsequential here, because there is no fusion or experimental divergence. You will not hear rock or soul’s pastiches of the formula, there’s no preaching vocals, you will only hear a crisp and refined approach to the true sound. This is reggae at its finest, a driving riddim, occasional wail of an electric guitar, heavy bassline and saturated in sublime horns.

To emphasise these classic elements of reggae are evidently profound, each tune is singularly named after the four classic elements; earth, air, fire and water.  

Earth is marching one-drop reggae, the kind you’ll identify with the later works Bob Marley & The Wailers, such as the 1979 album Survival. But Air is no lighter, there’s a real deep, roots feel to it, a plodding bassline fills said air, but throughout there’s this continuation of a tight horn section, managed to perfection. Fire has more upbeat jollity about it, so much so it near-verges on the classic ska of the unrivalled Skatalites. Water brings it back around, with that proud one-drop march.

This is the traditions of reggae, elsewhere at its very best, the only thing it lacks is the vocal affirmation to Rastafari, or anything else uniquely indigenous to JA, rather a structured salute to the sound, as if it was performed by Mozart or Beethoven. There’s the nutshell, if Beethoven went to sister Mary Ignatius Davies’ class at Kingston’s Alpha Cottage School, with Don Drummond, Rico Rodriguez, Roland Alphonso et all, his symphonies might end up sounding something like this; it is that accomplished.

Top marks, as if they not done it before on Devizine, and I’ve still not gotten fully over how awesome Wonderland of Green was!


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Erin Bardwell Gets Organised

A new album released yesterday from Swindon’s premier reggae keyboardist and producer Erin Bardwell made me contemplate a section of Henri Charrière’s book Papillon. The autobiographical account of a fellow no prison or penal colony can seem to keep incarcerated. There’s a point where Papillon deliberately causes a disturbance in order to be put in solitary confinement. He claims he prefers it to the regular cells, because away from the other inmates, alone in pitch darkness he can reimagine, practically hallucinate and relive his better days.

For the concept of the album and accompanying film Get Organised is largely reminiscing and reflecting on his past. Possibly, I suspect, due to age becoming, the fact this marks a thirtieth anniversary of the formation of his heyday two-tone band, The Skanxters, but largely due to lockdown.

Myself, lockdown has been parttime. I’ve worked throughout, galivanting through the villages, meeting early morning risers, and it’s all been much the same as it ever was, just cannot nip t’ pub, or see family living out of the area. Which is frustrating at times, but I accept it’s not as bad as those shielding and self-isolating; that would’ve driven me insane my now. It’s common in isolation to consider one’s life and recollect, but Erin does it over a reggae beat; and I approve!

We’ve been here before; this is not Erin’s first reflection of lockdown. Pre-pandemic he directed a collective who were pushing new boundaries in rock steady. But April last year saw the solo release of Interval, a deeply personal reflection and mind-blowingly cavernous concept album, diving into the psyche and exploring past events; scarce formula for reggae.

Erin Bardwell

Yet Erin’s style is such; relished in unconformity, individualism and freethinking, factors which make it so utterly unique it’s hard to compare. It’s this standout signature which Erin stamps on all projects, be them solo, as the Collective, or side projects such as the experimental dub of Subject A with Dean Sartain, or The Man on the Bridge project with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, which defines the very sound of reggae in Swindon and puts it on the skanking map. If there was a skanking map, which I wish there was!

Whereas Interval’s morose mood merged styles through experimentation, some often out of the confines of reggae, be they jazz, ambient and space rock, Get Organised will wash better with the matured skinheads, scooterists and Two-Tone aficionados, for it sits with more golden era reggae, particularly of the sixties Trojan “boss” reggae epoch. They tend to know what they like, and favour tradition over risky and radical progressions.

In this notion too it’s sprightlier and more optimistic than Interval, a result of vaccinations and this “roadmap” out of lockdown, perhaps; The Erin Bardwell Trio booked for a gig at Swindon’s Victoria on 1st July. Though at times there’s still the thoughtful prose Erin is fashioned for, reflecting the effect of lockdown. The lyrics of Eight O’clock, for example, which notes despite the usually lively nightlife at this time, the town is quiet.

The Erin Bardwell Collective

They’re all sublimely crafted pieces, the title track’s mellow riff nods to Lee Scratch Perry’s middling Upsetters period with something akin to a tune like Dollar in the Teeth. And in that, we have to consider the great producers of rockers reggae for comparisons, rather than the artists. Aforementioned Perry, but of Niney the Observer, of Harry J too, and Get Organised subtly delves into dub, so I guess King Tubby also. Yet the opening tune reminded me of the earlier, legendary producer Duke Reid.

Erin has the proficiency to cherry-pick elements from reggae’s rich history, effectively merge them and retain this said signature style. The Savoy Ballroom has the expertise keys of Jackie Mittoo, with the vaudeville toytown sound of Madness. That said has opened another Pandora’s box, as Two-Tone also has a significant influence on Get Organised, naturally. The grand finale We Put on that Show is reflective of the era, along the lines of the steady plod of Do Nothing rather than the frenzied ska of Little Bitch, if we’re going to make a Specials contrast, which I think is apt.

Equally, you’re going to love this if, like me, you cite the debut album Signing Off, as UB40’s magnum opus rather than their following pop covers, or just if you’re looking for something different from the norm.

These recollections are visualised in a half-hour video, making it more poignant. It’s a scrapbook film, with homemade clips of The Skanxters setting up or driving to a gig, footage I’d expect to have been largely unseen until now. There’s also a montage of memoirs chronicling Erin’s career, as the camera pans across gig posters, bus tickets, vinyl and press cuttings. Though far from documentary, the sound plays out the album, the material an aid to the songs, and a fascinating art project to accompany it.

 “A second solo album wasn’t really part of the plan,” Erin explains, “but with the current climate as it is, I still found myself coming up with music and songs. These tunes started following a theme, that led to a film idea, and the sounds and visuals grew together influencing each other.”

The point in the early nineties, when the Skanxters were the pride of Swindon’s two-tone scene is captured well, and while those on the circuit, or even living locally then, will love recognising the many memoirs, anyone into the scene at the time will thoroughly enjoy this outing. Overall, though, Erin continues to break boundaries, and this album is a blessing and pleasure to listen to, alone from its narrative and meaning, as all good reggae should.


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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 26: The Maitree Express

Reggae and ska’s association with trains tracks back to its very roots, that beguiling chugging offbeat replicates engine noise, ergo subject matter and band names suit.

Here’s hoping if Devizes does ever get a station, more reggae bands will stop here and bring their sunshine music. Prime example; I’d sure make a beeline for this Bath-Bristol seven-piece locomotive, with their lively blend of dub, ska and soul.
Failing that, I’m trekking, have roots, will travel.

Offering an exciting live show, the Maitree Express has been in the recording studio and the effect projects onto wax; proof here, in the pudding.

Wait, did someone say pudding? My work here is done, that’s my song for the day. Very good. Carry on…..


Song of the Day 16: Blondie & Ska

If you came here looking for an original song by upcoming hopefuls, look away. Chippenham’s Blondie & Ska may not be groundbreaking or looking for a mainstream recording contract, a Blondie tribute act who fuse ska and Two-Tone classics into their repertoire, but what they do they do with a barrel load of lively fun. And, in a nutshell, lively carefree fun is the backbone of ska.

Heores of the live stream currently, booking Blondie & Ska for a party or pub gig in the future, and you can gurantee, if fussy music devotees tut, the majority will be up dancing. For this reason enough, I blinking love this duo, but that alone is plentiful. Like their Facebook page for details of future free streams, it’s an entertaining, unpretentious show.

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


Song of the Day 14: King Hammond Meets Death of Guitar Pop

Great things about ska are many fold, but a topper most one has to be collaboration. Rather than set groups, as with most mainstream music, musicians uniting for projects is common and has always been the ethos of ska and reggae since day dot. Perhaps being the very reason it’s so lively and communal.

Another great thing about our song of the day, where Islington’s ska legend Nick Welsh, aka King Hammond, teams up with that crazy Essex duo Death of Guitar Pop, is the ska style displayed, near enough mimics the jump blues “shuffle” on which ska is originally based.

But history aside, let’s just enjoy this new track for all it’s worth. DoGP are fast rising in rank on the UK ska scene, with a carefree “Nutty Boys” fashion, it’s easy to see why.

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


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Song of the Day 11: Dakka Skanks

No video to this one. Do we need visuals? Not when it’s this good; my favourite track of Brighton-based contemporary ska heads, Dakka Skanks.

They’re lively, diverse, lots of fun, and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the near future.

If the Duallers have reached a pivotal point akin to the Specials, and Death of Guitar Pop are providing the tongue-in-cheek Madness equivalent, I believe these guys could be The Beat of this era, as there was a band unafraid to experiment.

Dakka Skanks are majorly ska, but throw a lovable but carefree punk attitude, and a wide range of other influences, such as soul, into the melting pot, and concoct something uniquely entertaining.

Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 7: Mr Tea & the Minions

Sunday off, broke my promise to post a song of the day, everyday. Allow me to make up for it. Bristol’s Mr Tea & the Minions with a lockdown themed song. See how sublimely they fire a frenzy of folk and Balkan styled ska-punk into festival proportions. I think they’re the hottest bands around these parts, and fondly reviewed the album, Mutiny a while ago. Just a reminder today then, these kids have it.

I made enquiries, wanting to bring them to Devizes. It’s no cheap option and obviously currently off the cards.

The reservation is that just because I’m loving this style, it might too radical for a Devizes audience. So, I’d appreciate some feedback; would you have paid a purple one to see them play in our town?

Fingers crossed, we live for a better day. But I believe lobbying a large Devizes venue to bring contemporary music direct to us, just occasionally, is crucial to the culture diversity we should be delving into.

Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 6: The Simmertones

It’s getting late now and I’ve only just got around to posting our song of the day. Had a piece to write and the obligatory family Scrabble game. Nearly missed the deadline, meaning my promise to post a song each day didn’t quite last a week, but alas, I’m here last minute to seal the deal.

What better then, than the pride of Devon, The Simmertones. They’ve fast made it to a lead name in the UK ska scene, and with their lively shows and crazy ska cover of the Dr Who theme, a personal favourite, it’s easy to see why. A tad more tender, here they are…..

Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….


Song of the Day 4: Girls Go Ska

Hi, yeah s’me, keeping up the Song of the Day feature like dedication was as word I know the definition of!

No excuses not to, I mean I am of the generation when Roy Castle clasped his trumpet weekly, ready for the signing off of “Record Breakers.” No, it’s not a euthanasim, Google it whippersnappers.

Might also explain my fondness for brass. Brass is class, and a vital element of ska. Yep, four tunes in and I couldn’t resist sharing some ska with you.

It’s a commonly misguided notion that ska is a retrospective cult here in England. It tends to convey a bygone era of Two-Tone records, boots and braces.

Yet today, while said stereotype has a grounding, ska is an international phenomenon, particularly in South America. I did write a piece about this region’s love for ska, and how it’s roots out of Jamaica bare a different tale from our own.

To show you how fresh it can be elsewhere in the world, and it’s not a reminiscence for a
load of overweight balding pensioners as perceived in the UK, here’s all-female bar one Mexican band, Girls Go Ska, who I’m secretly in love with, (so secret they don’t even know themselves….until they use Google translate!) doing an instrumental jam.

Girls and ska; what’s not to like? Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….


  • REVIEW – Gigspanner @ Pound Arts Centre, Corsham – Tuesday 29th November 2022

    A Night Of Extreme Violins

    Andy Fawthrop

    Yes, I know it’s not in Devizes, but it’s pretty darned close.  And it was definitely worth the trip out on a grim Tuesday night when nothing else was happening.  Folk or football?  Well, as Bill Shankly never actually said, this gig was far more important than mere life-or-death on a soccer field.

    Gigspanner, if you don’t know, is now the full-time musical project of ex-Steeleye Span’s violin genius, Peter Knight.  Having gradually become slightly exasperated with the repetitive nature of Steeleye’s musical repertoire, despite the occasional new album, Peter left in order to pursue his own musical interests.  And boy has he done that in spades over the past ten years or so.  His trio, including guitar and technical wizard Roger Flack, and percussionist Sacha Trochet, has become legendary in folk (and other) circles for their ground-breaking exploration of musical forms, pushing the basics of folk way, way beyond previous known limits.

    The Pound Arts Centre was absolutely packed last night, with every ticket having sold some time ago.  They’d managed to squeeze in two extra rows of seats at the front, and so it was that 120 of us welcomed these wonderful musicians to the stage.  Given the depth of applause, I’d guess that most of them were already big fans of the band and knew what was coming up.  And what came up was absolutely superb.  Building on the basic building blocks of a few “traditional” folk songs and tunes (She Moved Through The Fair, The Constant Lovers, The Bows of London and The Hard Times of Old England), the band built these foundations into something quite spectacular.  They moved these pieces far beyond the normal, extemporising and exploring as they went, and produced some spell-binding passages of music.  It was fascinating, it was beautiful, and it was utterly captivating.  Using violin, guitars, pedals, effects, and a range of percussion, the three of them wove some amazing musical patterns.  It’s absolutely unlike stuff you’ll hear anywhere else, and played live on stage right in front of you, it’s completely gob-smackingly good.  But there was even more.  Not content with re-defining what constitutes live “folk” music, there were some new musical journeys based on Peter’s own contemporary song/ tune-writing skills such as Seagull, Butterfly and (a collaboration with the late Terry Pratchett) I Will Wear Midnight.

    And, as ever, there was laconic commentary and dry humour from Peter as he introduced each piece, followed by one of my favourite pieces of live musical “theatre” in a piece they’ve been playing from the earliest days called Louisiana Flack.  In this party piece, and without the aid of a safety net, Peter plays a very fast fiddle piece, whilst Roger takes up a pair of drumsticks and simultaneously taps out a complementary beat/ tune across the neck and fingerboard, hopefully avoiding Peter’s fingers.  Just watching these two consummate musicians pull this trick off is one of those breath-holding moments where you’re not quite sure what you’re seeing.  And it came off superbly, demonstrating the complete level of trust that these two musicians have for each other.  Truly amazing.

    Altogether we got two good hour-long sets, which seemed to pass in but a few moments, and an outstanding ten-minute long encore of The Faerie King.  With only occasional lyrics (Peter’s singing voice isn’t why you go to see him), it was one very, very large helping of superbly played and presented music. It might have been based on “folk”, but what we heard would actually defy genre or mere pigeon-holing.  What you need to know is that it was very, very, very good.

    Last night was, as it happened, the last night of the trio’s current UK tour, but it’s not all over.  The never-resting Peter Knight is starting a two-week tour on Saturday with John Spiers, then next year it’ll be back to all the other projects in his life – The Gigspanner Big Band (with Philip Henry and Hannah Martin aka Edgelarks), collaborations with other musicians, Feast of Fiddles, as well as his teaching master-classes, composing and recording.  The man never stops.  No wonder he continues to draw plaudits from the musical press and to win so many music awards.  This man is definitely not, as he self-deprecatingly describes himself, “a fool with a fiddle”.

    Chatting with a clearly delighted band after the gig, they told me how much they loved playing The Pound.  CDs were selling like hot cakes, the audience had been great, and it’s such a lovely, friendly venue. They always get treated like royalty (not you Andrew!), so I’m pretty sure they’ll be pencilling in another date sometime next year.  And if they do, then you owe it to yourself to get a ticket and go – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Their future gigs are listed on www.gigspanner.com/ which includes dates in Swindon and Bristol next February.  And there’s lots of info on their other projects, such as Saltlines, too.

    And, finally, just a word about The Pound Arts Centre.  It’s a cracking little venue, now back in full action, with a complete programme of events across drama, film, music, comedy, children’s activities, art exhibitions, workshops, and classes.  It also has an excellent café & bar just off the foyer.  You’ll have to look on their website for future music artists and online ticket information at www.poundarts.org.uk but (for example), they’ve got Jonny Coppin’s Christmas Show, Bowjangles, Sandi Thom, and John Kirkpatrick, all of them before Christmas.  They show modern films and often carry live telecasts of live performances from London venues.  If you’ve not been over there, it’s definitely worth checking out.


  • Devizes Carnival Returning to Traditional Date

    Something I’m personally impartial about, though DOCA’s carnival consultation flagged it as a major issue for many, the recent date changes of carnival is set to be returned to the original date.…..

    Announced this evening, DOCA said, “based on what we’ve heard, we have made the decision to move the Carnival back to the traditional date, the first weekend of September.”

    Confetti Battle and the Colour Rush will remain on a Saturday, DOCA suggesting it’s “been a welcome change overall,” and will be set two weekends prior to Carnival. This will create the “Carnival Fortnight,” as it was before, alongside some fringe events of entertainment in collaboration with local businesses. The International Street Fair will stay in early summer.

    The key dates for next year look at little something like this:

    International Street Fair – 27th & 28th May

    Picnic in the Park – 18th June

    Colour Rush & Confetti Battle – 19th August

    Carnival Parade – 2nd September

    Hummm, summer; I’m there already!


  • Illingworth Celebrate Their 100th Gig!

    Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.

    Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”

    He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”

    We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.

    To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.

    Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”

    Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”

    With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!

    Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.


  • Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 30th November – 6th December 2022

    No point in amending your bad behaviour now, far too late; you’ve got to have been good all year round to get on the good list. So, may as well carry on as usual, as this week sees us in the wintery but festive season. Are you ready, excited? Here’s our rundown of stuff to do this coming week in our local province, walking in the winter Wiltshire….

    Details and Links, and for planning ahead, check our event calendar.


    Last day of November then, tomorrow; Wednesday 30th, acoustic jam at the Southgate, Devizes, and Doric String Quartet at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.


    Starting Thursday 1st December on The Little Green, Devizes and running until Christmas Eve, Sustainable Devizes have the Advent{ure} Reuse Christmas, where you can be part of a living Advent Calendar! Create a scene or event for one evening during advent on a Christmas story or theme, to be displayed/performed for all to enjoy, and so many organisations have contributed to this. More HERE.

    Meanwhile, Sarah McQuaid plays The Pump, Trowbridge, Martin Harley at Chapel Arts, Bath, The Bob Porter Project at The Beehive, Swindon, and UK’s hottest drag act, Holly Stars presents their first solo show Justice for Holly, at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.


    Friday 2nd December, Sour Apple play The Pelican, Devizes, B-Sydes at The Pump, Trowbridge, Train to Skaville at The Three Horseshoes, Bradford on Avon. There’s also an evening of acoustic country with the Alan West Band at Chapel Arts, Bath.

    Every Friday night from now until Christmas is Christmas Party night at the Exchange nightclub in Devizes, doors at 10pm, free entry before 11.

    Shows include Through the Decades with Roy & Buddy at Melksham Assembly Hall, and Stardust: A Musical Journey at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon.

    Pink Mac play The Vic in Swindon, while Bone Chapel take The Beehive.

    Oas-is tribute at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while L1nkn P4rk tribute at the Tree House, and for want of an originals band in Frome on Friday, the incredible 41 Fords play The Sun Inn.


    Saturday 3rd, and Devizes Lions have their Christmas Fair at the Corn Exchange, from 9am-2pm. The Churchill Arms, West Lavington also have a Christmas Fayre, from 2-5pm. Regular Lego Club at Chippenham Library from 3-4pm. And I’m sure there’s Christmas fairs going off all over the place, but it’s a daunting task keeping up with all of that!

    Onto music, and our Phil Cooper plays The Southgate, Devizes, Alex Roberts is at The Barge on Honey Street. Grant Sharkey plays The Pump, Trowbridge, while Triple JD are at the Old Road Tavern, Chippenham. The Ultimate ABBA Tribute play The Consti Club, Chippenham.

    St Marys, Marlborough host the Marlborough Concert Orchestra Winter Concert, and Barrelhouse on their home-turf at The Lamb. Meanwhile, in Swindon, Oasish & Stereotonics play The Vic.

    Westwards leading and it’s a Boot Hill All Stars pilgrimage to The Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon, Oye Santana at Chapel Arts, Bath, while DJ Dave Pearce presents Dance Anthems at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, and Billy in the Lowground take The Tree House.


    Sunday 4th, Seend Community Centre has a Christmas Concert in aid of Alzheimer’s Support, and the Wessex Concert Orchestra play a Winter Concert at Devizes Town Hall.

    Trowbridge Philharmonic Choir at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, and an ultimate Christmas party for the little ones at Meca, Swindon called Calling all Elves.

    It’s not a massive weekend for live music, the build up to the festive period, but if in Bath on Sunday, it must be an afternoon session at The Electric Bar, where you’ll find Concrete Prairie live in session.

    And that’s all folks, have a good weekend. Please do send me some details of your Christmas events, and especially New Year’s Eve, which is looking unusually bare on our calendar this year.


  • Mighty Mighty; The Scribes Storm the Muck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Dr John Otway Rocks Trowbridge’s Pump

    By Lorraine Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

    For future gigs at The Pump, click HERE.


  • DOCA Step into Christmas!

    As sparkly as Elton John at his most sparkliest, Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts pulled the tinsel out of bag for the annual Winter Festival yesterday evening, leaving no niggles for a ‘review’ here, as such, just saying, and besides, if you live in or around Devizes, you were likely there anyway!

    Edited out of my chat with one half of the new management team, Annabel, a few months ago, was the part where I described partaking in a lantern parade of yore, when the nippers were nippier and I was lesser of grey hair. It was met with a torrential storm, after we’d walked from St Johns, the lantern collection point, to the starting blocks at the Wharf. After a lengthly wait, while professional lantern makers gasconaded and kids became tiresome already, we marched on, around the entire town, arriving in the Market Place like war-torn soldiers. We carried freezing slain underarm, tired toddlers unable to stay concious and victims of gale forces gallantry still waving a bare stick in the air, of where a lantern once stood, only because it was frozen to their hand!

    Okay, please allow slight exaggeration for artistic licence, but it was a trek even for the able-bodied. If the route these days is far more suitable, just a loop around the Market Place via Long Street and returning along the High Street, it was about the only change made, opting for all the custom aspects of the occasion; should keep the traditionalists content!

    Except Devizes Town Council seemed to not warrant inviting Father Christmas to make for the high ground to make the light switch, as is tradition and a grand element of excitement for the little people, which was a shame. Otherwise, everything was in place for a wonderful time, this mild November evening.

    The few art installations were aside the usual routes, so not trying the event to be akin to street festival, it was left to Devizes Town Band to entertain, under the memorial, which they did, kicking off with Hark the Herald Angel Sing; yep, definitely in the Christmassy mood now!

    Devizes Young Farmers parked their tractors, adorned with fairy lights and tinsel, ahead of their Tinsel Run on Sunday 18th, a newer event by comparison, but over the last couple of years, fast also becoming a tradition. I’m unsure if they’ll keep all those lights on and flashing until the 18th, while working the fields, or if they take them all off again until the big day.

    From the bustling Shambles to the Market Place crowds gathered, a variety of stalls, a great selection of tucker, and a busy craft fair in the Corn Exchange, coupled with the ever-fantastic lantern parade, which, once gathered the tree lights go on and the finale of fireworks commence. It’s the working method Devizes has seen in the season with for decades, and it made no sense to alter it; if it’s not broken…… congratulations again, DOCA, a super evening was had.


  • Devizes First Ever Life-Size Advent Calender

    For the first time, Devizes will have its own life-size interactive Advent Calendar starting from the 1st of December. Devizes Adventure is a community event to bring our town together as we approach Christmas….

    Each night throughout Advent, Devizes Adventure will be on the Little Green, where the calendar’s doors will open for one hour to reveal a different festive and fun display each day.

    With 24 days of Advent there are 24 different groups involved, including local schools, charities, arts organisations, churches, families, and The British Lion pub! The ‘Christmas Stories’ theme chosen for this year’s Adventure allows each of the groups to give their own creative take on the Christmas stories we all know and love.

    Each night will be a unique creative event – some nights the Devizes Adventure doors will open to live music, on other nights it may be storytelling, drama, a creative workshop with things to make and take home, or a fantastic display.

    If you pick up a Devizes Adventure flyer at the event, or bring the one delivered to your home, and have it stamped each night you attend, those who come along to the most will be entered into a draw to win a gift just in time for Christmas.

    The idea – inspired by the hugely successful Brighton beach hut advent calendar – is the brainchild of a group of volunteers.

    Rev. Richard Saint of St James’s Church, one of the organisers, said: “It’s intended to be a really fantastic, creative event – by the community for the community – and a lovely way to bring people together on the journey to Christmas. It’s definitely one for every age, and especially for children, who’ll love each new life-size Advent display and collecting the stamps.”

    Devizes Adventure will open its doors from 5:30-6:30pm each night on the Little Green from December 1st until the doors finally close at 6:30pm on December 24th.


    List of Participating Groups



    1st – Bishops Cannings School

    2nd – Sustainable Devizes

    3rd – Devizes 6th Scout Group

    4th – Christingle

    5th – Featherbrook Connect Group

    6th – Wiltshire Police

    7th – 10:10 Youth Group

    8th – Oliver’s Connect Group

    9th – Lighthouse Youth Group

    10th – The Journey Group

    11th – Remembering & Thanksgiving

    12th – Sibson’s Connect Group

    13th – DOCA

    14th – Trinity School

    15th – Big Sound! Community Choir

    16th – The MacDonald Family

    17th – Southbroom St James School

    18th – Home for Good

    19th – St Andrew’s Church

    20th – Hope for Justice

    21st – Sheep Street Baptist Church

    22nd – Jones’ Connect Group

    23rd – The British Lion

    24th – St James Church


  • Unemployment is a Choice, Says Wiltshire PCC Phillip Wilkinson

    You’ve got to love social media for its provision into the ethics of those in positions of power. It’s beggar’s belief why no-one in the White House office monitered Trump’s flutters on Twitter, let alone attempted to stop him.

    Similarly, while this thread on the Facebook page of Wiltshire Police Crime Comissioner, Phillip Wilkinson, begun on the rightful topic of tackling knife crime, it quickly became a little frosted window into the psyche and ethos of our PCC, who, to a response suggesting rising crime rates and employment satisfaction are related, stated “people need to work to earn a wage which over 5 million have decided not to do.”

    With a tendency to say what he sees on his official Facebook page, Phillip Wilkinson might fair well on TV’s Catchphrase, but in a position of power such as PCC, is this really a responsible reply to a simple notion? That’s not to suggest I believe everyone currently out of work is striving to regain employment, and will be the first to agree there’s a debatable number bucking the system (like many politicians evidently are too, only far worse), but if current unemployment numbers sit at 5.3 million, just where did Wilko pull the statistic that 96% of them made a premeditated choice to be out of work?

    One has to ponder if this is an extremely bad choice of wording on his part, or if he really believes the vast majority of unemployed choose to be unemployed, for the latter option sounding most probable is, quite honestly, a grossly misinformed, shameful and thoroughly irresponsible attitude.

    I find myself wondering if he has the foggiest notion just how frustrating and demoralising being out of work is, for the majority out of work, if he’s stopped to contemplate how damaging his comment is, and if, admist his pomposity, he really gives a hoot.

    Fact is, a massive majority out of work are not so because of a concious decision not to, rather cannot work due to mental or physical illness, redundancy or being laid off, or social situations such as single parents without skills or experience to obtain a salary able to cover childcare costs. Anyone with any basic understanding of how real life works already knows this, you’d have thought?!

    There’s even a great number of them unable to gain employment after being mentally or physically injured serving in the forces, which he so proudly parades his own record in; whatever happened to the “nemo resideo” ethos of solidarity in the armed forces?

    But more concerning is it’s a fact surely garnished with bittersweet hypocrisy that the very political party Phillip Wilkinson aligns to are responsible for such poor conditions and economic decline rendering the situation far worse than it need be. Shut the front door in the face of shallowness!

    Someone draw a map of logic for the chap, and manoeuvre some tanks of reason across it in a manner he might comprehend; dole, job seeker’s allowance, tax credits, whatever the latest name a government office human resources team spent serveral conferences deciding to call it, is a safety net, because no one’s job is 100% safe. Anyone can find themselves out of work, from their factory closing to their business in negative equity, and everyone who worked paid for that safety net, it is our money, we put in to build it.

    Still, it’s the negative stereotyping and arrogant attitudes of odious individuals like this which projects the concept one should feel honoured for the ability to take any of this back, one should feel ashamed to have to sign on, and this turns the coggs of a vicious circle in the demoralising the very being of unemployment.

    Far from me lobbing a random opinion for the sake of mocking a tory, I’ve felt it myself, been there. I’m speaking from experience and with an open heart. What the Wiltshire PCC expresses here is openly and unashamedly prejudice against the unwell, the sick and disabled, not least the poor or homeless, and coming from a man responsible for our policing, it’s also throughly concerning.

    To Mr Wilkinson I ask if he realises people retain their morals when not working, their emotions too, and doesn’t abuse his position to highlight his wonky and, frankly, disgusting opinions.

  • Devizine Podcast Pilot!

    Okay, so, everyone is doing a podcast these days, and I’m a sucker which finds it impossible to go against the grain. Here’s my pathetic attempt at comedy, interspliced with some great, mostly locally sourced tunes…… enjoy as best you can, there’s no guilt in not listening, because if you don’t, you’re the sensible one!

    Do not fear, it’s under an hour and half, anymore and I worry for your sanity. But, if I’m honest, I’m a smidgen worried how this is going to go down, being new to all this, so any feedback I might even yet take heed of! Please note, though, this is adult show, with adult material, which some listeners may find offensive.

    Any more than one piece of positive feedback and I might be persuaded to make it monthly thing, already got a number of local Christmassy songs for a seasonal special next time; you have been warned!

    As I said in it, I’d really like a jingle, if some musical friends have the time to record a quick ditty and send it in, that’d be awesome. Something which really clarifies just how crap it is, would be nice!


Very Terry Edwards

The word “very,” rarely an adjective, as in “it happened in this very house,” or “this is very Terry Edwards,” but commonly worthlessly used as an adverb, as in “it’s very cold today,” or “this is the very best of Terry Edwards.” While the album simplifies it to the ambiguous “Very Terry Edwards,” it’s BandCamp page suggests, “The Very Best of Very Terry Edwards,” which though it’s exactly what it is, it’s also one adverb enough for the most lenient of proof-reader’s red line. Yet, if the usage of very is erm, very worthless, it is the only thing on this album which is.

The multi-instrumentalist, best known for trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, guitar and keys, marked his sixtieth birthday last September releasing this three-CD best-of box set, and while I should’ve mentioned it last month, between putting batteries in toys and stuffing myself with pigs in blankets things got tardy. Right now, though, I can think of no better outstanding project to kick off our music reviews for 2021. Reason only partly because it ticks all my personal favourite genre boxes, more so because of the range of said genres is far greater than run-of-the-mill best of compilations.

We need to assess Terry’s biography to understand the reason for this variety. Funky punk and second-gen ska most obvious, as from 1980 he was a founding member of Two-Tone signed band The Higsons, after graduating with a degree in music. But around that time Terry also produced and played on the Yeah Jazz’s debut album, of whom, despite the name, were particularly folk-rock.

Terry in 1984

From here the vastness of Terry’s repertoire blossoms, as session musician for a huge range of acts, from Madness to Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and The Jesus and Mary Chain to, particularly notable, The Blockheads. As well as his solo material, with his band The Scapegoats and a stint with dark punk-blues outfit Gallon Drunk, it’s understandable collating this in one reminiscent anthology is a mammoth task and a melting pot. Which is just what you’re getting for your money, a very, as the grammatical disorderly title suggests, worthy melting pot.

“When the earliest recording here was made the 18-year-old me couldn’t comprehend being 60,” Terry explained, “yet here I am presenting a triple album containing 60 titles recorded between 1979 and 2020, through thick and thin.” Therefore, it must be more tongue-in-cheek than I’d suspect Roger Daltrey’s notion now of My Generation’s lyrics that for the opening track he opted for The Higsons’ “We Will Never Grow Old.”

“You’d expect an overview of my career to have some odd bedfellows and more than its share of quirks and foibles,” he continued, “but it’s been compiled to flow musically rather than have a chronological narrative.”

That said, the first four tunes from his original band follow, with all their fervent rawness. Terry covered his tracks though, “I immediately break my own rules by starting with The Higsons’ earliest release and debut single, but redeem myself by following up with the most recent recordings; two ballads recorded with Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Holy Holy) in February 2020. There is more method than madness; groups of songs which follow a theme or genre are found together regardless of when they’re from.” Indeed, we’re then treated to three tunes in a matured, mellowing jazz and blues, the latter of which with the vocally perfected Erika Stucky.

Then we’re into rock with The Wolfhounds, and a guitar-twanging Christmas blues song with Robyn Hitchcock, plodding jazz with Knife & Fork, post-punk Big Joan, avant-garde jazz with Spleen and rockabilly styled New York New York. While mostly jazz-related, this first disc graduates through genres with finesse.

Terry is like Georgie Fame with a Mohican, but whatever avenue is explored, you can guarantee quality. The second CD starts with a bang, upbeat mod-jazz with The Scapegoats. There’re more known covers here, sublimely executed Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, a superb solo rendition of The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love, as if Robert Smith wore a Fred Perry, and a hard-rock electronica version of Johnny Kidd’s Shakin all Over with the haunting vocals of Lisa Ronson. Even find an orchestral film score, and a piano solo of the knees-up capital’s favourite, May It’s Because I’m a Londoner.

Yet if both the quantity and quality on offer here is so vast to make me waffle, it doesn’t waiver for the final disc, rather it’s my favourite. A BBC session outtake of a jazzy Voodoo Chile, with altered title to “Child.” Dunno, can’t be a typo, the dedication to attributing to Hendrix’s masterpiece is no easy feat, lest it be known Terry manages it with awesomeness dexterity, with a saxophone!

If the last CD continues with on a jazz tip for two tunes, we’re transported to ska via John Holt’s Ali Baba by Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra and other sundry members of Madness, and Totally Wired by Terry’s “Ska All Stars,” and more ska-jazz with Rhoda Dakar. Post-punk follows, featuring The Nightingales with Vic Goddard, Snuff, Glen Matlock and Gallon Drunk. Perhaps my favourite parts being the shouty cover of The Human Leagues’ “Don’t you Want Me Baby,” by Serious Drinking, and the general dilapidation of seriousness with new wave tunes mirroring the unsubtlety of Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Here’s a jam-packed box-set brimming with variety which flows suitably and makes a definitive portfolio of a particularly prolific and proficient musician. For many it’ll hold fond memories, for younger, who think Kate Nash created the cockney chat-rap, or jazz wasn’t the same until Jamie Cullum came along, it’s a history lesson they’ll never forget!

This 60th birthday, 60 track-strong celebration spans over four decades. A triple CD clamshell boxset with 24-page booklet, but more importantly they say, “Very Terry Edwards is a birthday present to himself as much as anything else,” giving it the impression you’re on a personal journey, like a child sitting on their grandpa’s lap while he recites memoirs, blinking exciting ones!

Buy from Rough Trade: £15.99 or BandCamp: £15 or £8 digital.


Weird, I Find Myself Agreeing With Danny Kruger Over Station Road Carpark Closure!

It’s quite alright, you’ve not entered the Upside Down from Stranger Things, or another theoretical parallel universe. Station Road carpark in Devizes will be closed overnight to cars, effective immediately. MP for Devizes Danny Kruger pushed for this Wiltshire Council order, and in hindsight, I happen to agree with them and wished it had come … Continue reading “Weird, I Find Myself Agreeing With Danny Kruger Over Station Road Carpark Closure!”