New Lost Trades Single and Album Announcement

If our beloved two-part Devizes one-part Trowbridge folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades should be at the level now of aiming for reviews in the mainstream press and international folk music specialist magazines, they’re so nice they never forget little ol’ me, still bashing away at my keyboard writing this slapdash jumble! They’ve sent over Long Since Gone, the fourth single to feature on their follow-up album, the details of which are also being unravelled like a scroll in the hands of an eager pirate; exciting news……

Never quite as easy, the follow-up, but via these sneaky peeks, the previous three singles, Daffodils, Keep My Feet Dry, and Old Man of the Sea, anticipation is reasonable. We know its name, “Petrichor,” meaning the aroma of rain after a sunny spell. We have a release date, 10th March, the beginning of their spring tour, Bandcamp pre-orders from Bandcamp Friday, the 3rd February. We also have a glimpse at the cover, in which the trio saunter a one-point perspective open road, Phil looking chuffed, Jamie looking like he’s been duped by the distance they’ve rambled, and Tamsin set slightly back in the middle, doing the whole Mary Poppins thing!

On the strength of the previous singles, I admit I’m going in with high expectations. If each song seems to have bettered the preceding one in each of their own unique way, my first impressions were this has levelled out somewhat. Naturally, it bears all the hallmarks of a great Lost Trades song, it still points in the right direction, but ah, unlike the immediate appeal of the others, Long Since Gone is a grower, me thinks; sneaks up on you, and loiters while you’re dangling off a Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Phil takes the lead here, on this dreamy and sentimental harmony, with its humble narrative of bereavement and anguish, naturally awash with the kind of enriching stimulus we’ve come expect. The Trades explain, “it was written for a friend who sadly lost a long battle with cancer two years ago, and deals with the advanced stage of grieving, after the immediate pain fades and you are left with a lingering ache to see your friend once more.”

A notion we must all face if not already, and the gift this song gives is this all-encompassing emotion, which will implant in your mind the remembrance of a particular person close to you, that much is concrete. If the manufacture of provocative prose by drawing on personal reflection and generalising it, so its audience can mirror the concept from their own reminiscences is the objective of any artist, The Lost Trades have quickly become masters of how the pull the heartstrings and paint a picture through words and music. Therefore, I take it all back, Long Since Gone sure is a beauty, and another darn good reason to be enthusiastic for the 10th March.

Listening link-tree HERE


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New Lost Trades Single; Old Man of The Sea

If decades haven’t lessened the appeal of the galling quip, “Monsieur, with these Rocher you are really spoiling us,” every time some spanner in a tank-top pulls out a box of chocolates at a party, then I reserve the right to modify it here today, for wonderful local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades are really spoiling us, with another sublime teaser we hope to see on a subsequent album sequel.

Yet, I hailed the last few tunes for this progressive tighter bonding, so both vocally and in concept their voices and characteristics merge, this one is rather concentrated in the raconteur style of Jamie Hawkins, who takes lead.

When considering one of personal favourites on the inaugural album, The Bird, The Book and the Barrel being Jamie’s led “Wait for my Boat to Come in,” this too has a marine theme, and using Hemingway’s most unlucky character, Santiago, is the perfect subject for the forlorn and pensive impression we’ve come to expect as standard from this enriching trio. Adapting the book title, The Old Man and The Sea, to The Old Man of the Sea, it’s another delightfully expressive shanty-type ballad, with all the hallmarks of their set style, and that being a treat on the ears.

The Trades proudly announced it’s the fastest tune of theirs to have reached the 100-stream mark, but the proof is in the pudding; take a listen, you know you’ll be pleased you did. It just keeps getting better for The Lost Trades, and in that a journey we’ve all followed locally, and appreciated every step of the way.


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Keeping Your Feet Dry, with The Lost Trades

New single from The Lost Trades, due out on those streaming sites next Friday, 9th September, but our lovable folk trio decided as it’s the celebratory “Bandcamp Friday,” they’d get it on there early….and I thought I’d get a breather today!

Is this a conspiracy? Is there a secret WhatsApp group where local musicians gang up on me and decide to all release their new material in the same week?! So much new music being pushed my way, I love it, but repetitive strain injury of the typing digits, people, think about that for a second! This, though, is more than worth mentioning.

I’ve been listening to it for a few weeks, holding my breath from mentioning it until next week, seems now I can exhale and tell you just how absolutely awesome this new single from The Lost Trades is. I even, at one point, had it playing in the car when nipping out for Derrick’s Deals at the Spar shop in Devizes, windows down, when I was struck with terror someone might overhear this exclusive early, and like the automatic blinds of the Lego ideas office, I fastened the gap!

Last time around, on All Fools Day, the tune was called Daffodils, and I dubbed it a “lost trades mark,” trying to be clever and play on words, but for the simple reason it summed up everything which was great about their debut album, The Bird, the Book and the Barrel, in one single, stating “this wonderful sunny side of the street tune is a neat little package tallying up the brilliance of the Trades.”

So where do we go from here? I’m going to big it up, you know that, because the trio haven’t yet disappointed, ever, and I’m therefore obviously going in with high expectations. But it had been one of those days, you know the sort, we all have them, and night was drawing near when I remembered I still had the single to listen to, and despite all said prospects, I just fell headlong into it, like tumbling into a blissful dream. It lifted me out of the swirling thoughts of that sort of day, it elevated me above cloud nine, and here’s why….

It’s the production this time around, yes Phil, Jamie and Tamsin’s, while Tamsin takes the lead vocal, least most predominate, voices are truly merged into one harmonious glory, the production of this single, a real step up. The entire mood surrounding it will engulf you, whether or not you’ve been following the progress of this exceptional trio or not. This is the way forward, it knocks spots off of anything which may’ve gone before in their building discography, and that, like Bananrama once said, is really saying something…. not that that’s a comparison, by the way!!

It needs no comparison other than with their own material, now, though it got me contemplating Roger McGuinn’s “Ballad of Easy Rider,” theme-wise, if rivers are a common metaphor in folk; the lyrics Dylan infamously gave to The Byrds, but declined credit in the film as he didn’t like its ending. But, I digress, with a “missing you” theme, Keep my Feet Dry is a boost in the right direction for the Trades, it drifts, a thing beauty, uplifting, with a chorus immediately sing-a-long. The guitar riff sooths, and every element fits together perfectly; wowzers, you only need bring your ears, and they will love you for it!

By the way, Jamie of the Lost Trades is at the Southgate, Devizes, Saturday, while Tamsin is playing the Barge on HoneyStreet; make your own mind up, I can’t help you with this dilemma!


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REVIEW – Focus @ LSBC, Corn  Exchange, Devizes – Saturday 20th November 2021

Best Gig Of The Year In D-Town!

Andy Fawthrop

Second day on the trot in the Corn Exchange for me – on Friday night it was Motown Gold, with D-Town’s (ahem) young things bopping away to hits from their lifetime’s soundtrack.  But on Saturday night it was something completely different – a journey into the wilds of 70s Prog Rock, with a side-serving of close-harmony contemporary folk.……

This was a complete change of venue for Long Street Blues Club for one night only, switching from the usual Con Club to a much larger hall and stage, in order to accommodate a more fitting light and sound show for one of the music business’s most famous bands, as well as to pack in a bigger crowd.  And it was a move that was fully justified, as the music-starved hordes of The Vize turned out in their hundreds.

But first things first – the support act The Lost Trades, consisting of three well-known local singer/ song-writers: Phil Cooper, Tamsin Quin and Jamie R. Hawkins.  (See Darren’s pre-gig interview with them if you’d like to know more about what makes them tick, [coming soon, Ed!]).  I’ve personally seen these guys sing before, many times, both as individual performers and as The Trades, and they’ve always impressed me.  On this occasion, and with a big attentive crowd in front of them, I thought that they absolutely nailed it.

Kicking off with “Only When We Sing With One Voice”, “Road of Solid Gold” and “Kingdom Falls” – all tracks on their latest album – all three performers looked relaxed and well-rehearsed.  Their multi-voice harmonies were spot on, and their (apparently) effortless swapping around of instruments showcased their collective talent and versatility (including a complete no-panic moment when Jamie broke a guitar string).  The songs were far from being one-dimensional, and instead were nuanced and textured.  As a group, I feel that their song-writing has improved no end, each of them contributing their own ideas, as well as improving the inputs of the others.  Their performance, to my ears at least, is strongest when Jamie takes the lead on vocals and, as they did on their last song, they simply drop all the instruments and just give us the stripped-down acapella harmonies.  All in all a top-notch, consummate performance which I expect will have won them a lot of new friends.  Just superb.

And then, as someone famous once said, for something completely different.  And you couldn’t get much more different than veteran Dutch prog-rockers Focus. 

Currently in the middle of their 50th anniversary UK Tour (which continues to mid-Dec, then starts again from April 2022), these guys are an absolute institution.  Still touring, still making albums (they are now on their tenth!) and new music, and still bringing crowds to their feet across Europe, Focus blew into D-Town and, with a little musical hocus-pocus, blew us all away.

Fronted by founding member Thijs Van Leer (an imposing figure in long black leather coat) on Hammond organ, flute and (ahem) vocals, the rest of the band were: veteran member Pierre van der Linden on drums, Menno Gootjes on guitar and Udo Pannekeet on 6-string bass.  And they seemed to be there on stage in absolutely no time at all, following a rapid changeover from the Trades, almost taking everyone by surprise.  Before we knew it we were off with the first number, fittingly called “Focus 1” – no warm-up, no intro, just straight into it.

And that was the start of a breath-taking two-hour-long set.  Suddenly we were in the midst of progressive rock – heavy chords on the organ, light passages on the flute, with guitar solos, bass solos, drum solos, some wonderful wandering jazzy improv passages, and (of course) those bizarre vocal interludes, scat singing and yodelling.  Most of the set was instrumentals – these are (in true prog-rock parlance) not just “songs” in the conventional sense, but rather “pieces”, consisting of different phases, passages, moods.  We were getting very close to Concept Album territory here, but we managed to avoided any such cliché as that.

Of course we got all the big 70s chart hits – how could they not on an anniversary tour? – “House Of The King”, “Sylvia” and a blistering, massively-extended version of “Hocus Pocus”.  But there was plenty of other stuff to enjoy too – “Le Tango”, “Peace March”, “All Hands On Deck”, “Hamburger Concerto” to name just a few others.  The vocals, such as they were, were largely incoherent, incomprehensible noises uttered by Thijs at key moments in the pieces.  But it was far from a one-man show, as proved by Thijs when he wandered off stage several times, including once through the audience and into the foyer, as the other musicians took their solos and duets.  Menno’s guitar-playing was stunning, and a real highlight for me, beating the bass and drum solos by a long way.

I have to say that this was the gig of the year for me.  By the end of the night the band not only got a fully-deserved encore, but a full-throttle standing ovation.  As far as I’m concerned, they knocked it right out of the park.  If you were there, you know exactly what I mean.  And if you weren’t there, you missed the best show in town!

Given what I’ve said above about The Lost Trades’ equally superb performance, the whole evening delivered a fantastic night’s entertainment, and a really strong advertisement for live music in Devizes.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Saturday 27th November 2021                   Antonio Forcione Quartet

Saturday 18th December 2021-                  KOSSOFF…The Band Plays On

Friday 14th January 2022                               Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 5th February 2022                         Tinsley Ellis

Saturday 19th February 2022                       Mike Zito Band

Saturday 26th February 2022                       Mark Flanagan Band

Friday 4th March 2022                                    Black Sabbitch (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 19th March 2022                            Soft Machine

Saturday 2nd April 2022                                 Alastair Greene Band

Friday 8th April 2022                                       Billy Bremner’s Rockfile (Devizes Town Hall

Saturday 9th April 2022                                  Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (Corn Exchange, Devizes)

Saturday 16th April 2022                               Billy Walton Band

Friday 6th May 2022                                        Birdmens

Saturday 17 September 2022                      CSN Express (New Rescheduled Date)


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A Detonation at the Southgate with Vince, Tamsin, Phil and Jamie

Could it be, I wonder this Sunday morning after a grand evening at our dependable Southgate, that being couped up and unable to play to a live audience for what feels like a decade, has planted fire in the bellies of musicians and a drive to return to the spotlight in an explosively intense and mind-blowing manner?

Image by Nick Padmore

It certainly felt this way with the Boot Hill All Stars giving it their all, last weekend at Honey Street’s Barge, and again, last night where a “Plus Friends,” gig took place at the Gate, in the blaze of glory local folk have come to expect from the homegrown talented musicians involved.

Image by Nick Padmore

As far from a band name as a desperate attempt to rehash a once-trendy US sitcom, Plus Friends is the banner for a looser formulation, I’m assuming, to temporarily disassociate the trio of Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin from their Lost Trades Americana branding and allow themselves the freedom to adlib and play in unison their separate songs as solo artists, generally rock out, and perhaps throw in a cover at will, as they did with a finale of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere. Though covers were scarce, the crowd know these guys only too well, and their original penned songs.

Plus, and, most importantly where the “plus” part falls neatly into place, to add a fourth member in par rather than “support,” that being the modest acoustic local legend, Vince Bell. Not forgoing this allowance also saw Jamie’s eldest son occasionally join them on percussion, adding to the overall “family” nature of the homecoming gig.

Image by Nick Padmore

And that’s precisely how it felt for punters and performers alike, a true community recovering from isolation the best way they know how. “This is how it should be,” delighted photographer Nick Padmore told me at the end. Because while the Southgate’s dedication to bringing variety, and artists who might well be unbeknown to Devizes is most welcomed, nothing raises the roof quite like Vince belting out his satirical prose about his hometown and the crowds joyously joining in with the “and you ain’t ever leaving!” chorus.

Image by Nick Padmore

It hallmarks everything great about this splendid occasion, and a true Devizes-fashioned return of live music with homegrown talent abound.

But it’s not just the brilliance of Vince, Tammy, Jamie and birthday-boy Phil, to perform with bells on, which made the evening, rather the friendly assembly of local live music aficionados too, with their meeting of the “same ol’ faces” not fully grouped since lockdown begun. And, in turn, the Southgate to accommodate them so welcomingly within current regulations.

Image by Nick Padmore

There’s a streamlined table service, its dedicated staff have the efficiency of McDonald’s, and the genuine friendliness of Disneyland. Though such comparisons should end there, for The Southgate is far from the mechanism of commercialism, rather a rustic haven for those seeking a “real” West Country pub experience, and within it, creating a free music venue that performers are queuing to play.

It’s without doubt the sum of all these parts made it so many chose our Southgate over Gareth’s squad on the tele-box, a brief “footballs coming home” chant raised by Jamie being the only reference to the Euros necessary. No, we’re happy here, thank you. Content to hear the welcoming homely vocals of Tamsin Quin, the passionately executed sentimental writings of Jamie as he rings out solo classics such as his tribute to his dad, the rockier side to Phil Cooper as he selects a tune from his solo lockdown album, These Revelation Games and the beautifully arranged understated lyrics of Vince as they so eloquently weave a tapestry of narrative. And as my opening presumption noted, they delivered it with such Jack-in-the-box passion, what once would have been a pretty standard gig down the Gate was more akin to a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Oh yes, more of that, please!

Image by Nick Padmore

And our wish is granted, as The Southgate’s gig calendar is building as if 2020 never happened; next Saturday, 10th July sees Swindon’s premier ska covers band The Skandals, with ex-Skanxter Carl Humphries returning as frontman. Sunday is the turn of Essex’s finest Americana roots band, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective.

One weekend after is all you need to wait until reggae duo Jon Lewis & Jah-man Aggrey, TwoManTing, on Saturday 17th, Rockport Blues on 24th, and Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning rocks up on the final Saturday of July. The dates are booked into August too, with Kevin Brown on the 7th and the brilliant Strange Folk on the 9th October, but you can bet your bottom dollar dates in-between these will crop up very soon, check the event guide as I attempt to keep ahead and update it without getting too frustrated with cancelations, or the Southgate’s Facebook page, where the spirit of live music lives on, as proved last night.

Update: check the board, not the Facebook!

All Images used with kind permission of Nick Padmore


Our compilation album is out now and raising money for Julia’s House Children’s Hospices; click to download your copy!
Got your ticket to MantonFest yet? Hurry up, I need a lift!

Lost Trades; The Bird, The Book & The Barrel

Even though they put a man on the moon four years before I was born, I swear it’s the little things summoning me to a care-home for the terminally bewildered. I’m pre-empting what-they-can’t-do-these-days scenarios, but why so soon? All the years of diluting the kid’s squash, I observed they look rather stout of recent. My daughter calls it a ‘senior moment,’ pointing out, it’s double-strength squash. She was right too, says so on the bottle, in huge, unmissable letters.

In a way, it’s kinda like the highly anticipated album from The Lost Trades. Because, if in the past I’ve put them deservedly on pedestals as individuals, when they first joined together, they shimmed said pedestals closer, and nicely complimented each other’s voices. This can be heard in the three tunes which reappear from the earlier EP, Robots, Good Old Days, and Wait for my Boat; the first one being definitively Phil’s song while the latter two have the marks of Jamie. Awesome as these are, it’s the unreleased tunes which I need to draw your attention to, as they’ve balanced the pedestals atop of each other, like a daring circus act; the lines between them as individual performers are now totally absorbed, in both writing and vocals, akin to the double-strength squash, this is triple-strength!

If you’ve never known them as individual performers, you’d be forgiven for mistaking that they ever were, with these new set of songs. And with other tricks up their sleeves, The Bird, the Book & The Barrel exceeded my high expectation. Solving the conundrum of what else to write about a trio we’ve already covered so much on Devizine.

The Bird, the Book & The Barrel, released on Friday, the 4th June, can be pre-ordered, and you get two tracks in advance, if you cannot wait, which is understandable. With a rustic wood-cabin corporate identity they don’t waiver from, the essence of folk-roots of yore are embellished with modern themes, from which they project the perfect balance of vocal harmonies one could only compare to family groups. Save Simon & Garfunkel and The Drifters, who could do it, we have to think from the apt genre, of the Carter Family, to The Carpenters, and The Everly Brothers, but perhaps onto The Jacksons, for in soul their voices harmonised with similar perfection. Yes, it really works akin with the Lost Trades, I’m pleased to announce, and here more than ever.

And in this, the opening tune could be constituted as somewhat boastful about their precision, if not a simple premise of unification; only in sharing one vision will the world be ours for the taking; if you got it, flaunt it! One Voice sums up my own overall thoughts on the album, and makes for a beautiful introduction.

The second track is where the magic really starts. The fleeting romantic interlude of a fast-paced, maybe dodgy, roamer is the theme of Road of Solid Gold, which is as the road, solid and gold. An unusual composition, being the fiddle is habitually played during instrumental breaks, but here it accompanies the vocals. This violin mastery is performed by legend of folk, Peter Knight, a founding member of Steeleye Span, undoubtedly the most renowned group of the British folk revival alongside Fairport Convention, and secretly was Uncle Bulgaria of the Wombles band too! Additionally, this is where we hear the Trades really melding their voices into one, which occurs more frequently as the album progresses.

Elements combine, regardless if one takes the lead, or verses are harmonies too, it’s all a big slice of wonderful. The astute song writing weaves narrative timelessly, be it nostalgic-based such as Good Old Days, unification against the odds like Distance Brings us Closer, both where Jamie leads, and the most poignant, Kingdom Falls, a tale of the pen being mightier than the sword through the eyes of a prisoner of war.

Then there’s lighter subject matter, often where Phil leads, such as the trickling Your Winning Days, but his lead also offers one of most divergent tunes, Robots, an apprehension of automation, in which a steady guiro offers a pertinent clockwork effect.

At seven tracks in one could wonder where’s the girl power, but when Tamsin takes lead on Hope Cove, it’s been worth the wait. A heartfelt romance actualised as a geographical location isn’t an uncommon concept, but you know Tamsin handles it inimitably and spectacularly, like only the finest tunes of her solo album Gypsy Blood. Shanty theme continues with Jamie leading on Waiting for my Boat, equivalent to the sentiment of his classic solo songs, Not Going Anywhere and As Big as You, this is nothing less than sublime.

With just two tunes remaining, Silent Noise of the Mind sums my “triple-strength” notion of the progress of the Trades, fusing the vocals entirely throughout, the beauty of it embraces the air, drifting your mind like a feather in a gentle zephyr. Tree-hugging Oaks light-heartedly polishes the journey off wonderfully, with a ukulele exhaling a Hawaiian ambiance and a cheery whistle, it leaves you knowing you’ve arrived somewhere where you wouldn’t mind travelling to time and time again.

But I’d wager you knew I’d only have good things to say about The Bird, the Book & The Barrel, therefore I implore your faith in my honesty, it’s as amazing as I say, and a little chipping more.


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Looking Forward to the Trades’ Road of Solid Gold

Scrub the headline as ‘news,’ here at Devizine Towers, as we look forward to any update The Lost Trades trio throw at us, especially a nice pint in a pub with those guys playing. Which is what we’re building to, fingers crossed, as they pencil in HoneyFest at the Honeystreet Barge on their growing confirmed gig list.

Among them, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, the Couch in Bracknell, Schtum in Box and WeyFest. Proof their exceptional and convivial brand of folk is resounding far and wide. Another validation for the Lost Trade’s reputation is news today the second single from the highly anticipated debut album, out on 7th May, features the violin mastery of the incredible Peter Knight.

A legend of folk, Peter learned his trade at Royal Academy of Music, and not only was a founding member of Steeleye Span, undoubtedly the most renowned group of the British folk revival alongside Fairport Convention, but secretly was Uncle Bulgaria of the Wombles band too! He’s worked with blues legend Alexis Korner and Mary Hopkin to namedrop out of many, and today his occasional big band, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Band are a unique force in British folk music with high-energy, virtuosic performances appealing equally to traditionalists and to those looking for something experimental.

See, I love a mean fiddler garnish on my folk, and as the Trades say, “as collaborations go, it doesn’t get much more mouth-watering than this.”

Road of Solid Gold – The Lost Trades (featuring Peter Knight) will be released on 7th May, another appetiser for the foresaid album. “When we were recording the song, we knew we had the seeds of something a bit special, but we felt it needed some extra magic. We were thrilled when Peter agreed to add that magic and we can’t wait for you to hear it.” Umm, yes indeedy, and we can’t wait to hear it!


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The Lost Trades Live Stream in Advance of Album Launch

April 1st is All Fools Day, the day after you’d be a fool to miss this. Much I hark on about local folk harmony trio, The Lost Trades, even before they were united as such, but only for good reason. It was always a win-win when the three singer-songwriters officially formed, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin all excelled on the local circuit as solo artists and regularly appeared together for gigs.

Together this force to be reckoned with has formed a definite style akin to a corporate identity, and uniformed they move towards a debut album with all new, original songs. Based on their EP, which we fondly reviewed, the album launch is rightfully highly anticipated.

 The album’s name has been revealed by the trio, “The Bird, The Book & The Barrel,” and will be released on 4th June. Though the band want to make the most of the Bandcamp Friday before that, where the platform-based music site kindly site waivers their fees, giving the artists full royalties. Therefore, The Lost Trades will be taking pre-orders on 2nd April and 7th May. There will be a live stream, something the Trades have always been on the top of their game with, on 2nd April, to celebrate.

The trio promise the full sound system, concert-style at live stream, scheduled at 7.30pm, will present everything from the album, including brand new, never before heard songs. The live stream will be broadcast from their Bandcamp page, and is ticketed at a very reasonable £2.50, with Bandcamp also waiving their fees on all live stream tickets sold until the end of March.

Best of luck, Tammy, Jamie and Phil; sounds like a virtual cake kind of occasion to me, but then, any occasion sounds like a cake one to me! Get your tickets HERE. Follow the event on Facebook.


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by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley Following a night in the Corn Exchange Friday, the chance arose for something completely different, something new to our…

Song of the Day 18: The Lost Trades

If you’ve not heard of The Lost Trades before, you must be new to Devizine! Not a problem, we welcome newbies with open arms.

For further information we have a search bar, use it!There are plenty of archived features on The Lost Trades, Phil Cooper, Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin: enough for Devizine to be an official fan club! These Song of the Day posts are brief and are not intended to be full reviews.

They’re also about introducing you to artists we’ve not, or hardly ever mentioned much of before. Today’s case differs.

I should explain, we’ve followed the individual careers of this local vocal harmony trio since the website’s creation, and they’re three out of many in through doing this, have become personal friends.

Naturally, there’s a danger to the bias of honest criticism in a reviewer befriending the creators; mainstream artists use “enemy” as a term to describe NME journalists.

Although they’re aware I’d be critical if there was ever anything to be critical about, this is also, never a problem, because, simply, the awkward situation never arises.

Partly, I believe, this is because Devizine isn’t a job, it’s a hobby, and if I thought for a second I’ll unjustly slag anyone off for kicks, then the whole objective of it is compromised. Though it’s a delicate balance to provide honest content and maintain relationships with the talented subjects, there’s no reason to wreck a career, and I’d sooner avoid scribbling anything on the matter at all.

The fact if you do search for the Lost Trades or the musicians which make the trio up, you’ll find a fair amount of matter on the subject, can therefore mean only one thing: there never is a problem because they’re genuinely awesome, and this would still be the case even if they hated my guts. Which I’m not ruling out, but suspect it’s unlikely; least I can hope for is they think I’m a headcase. A friendly headcase, but a headcase nonetheless!

Still, it’s a great song, as ever, with a fascinating homemade video fusing Jamie’s enthusiasm for stop motion animation. Get it here.

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


The Revelation Games of Phil Cooper

Crouching beside me at our IndieDay outing last month, one third of our local folk trio, The Lost Trades, Tamsin Quin explained she’s slowly working toward her second album but a lot of time is spent concentrating on progressing the Lost Trades. I supposed here is an advantage to DIY projects, as if The Lost Trades were signed to contract it’d likely be an order to focus entirely on the group.

In pop we’ve seen the pressure put on bands to collaborate equitably, and the result usually causes a split in the end. Major record companies in tough competition don’t do enough to discourage this. Note drama sells in Simon Cowell’s ‘show-me-how-easy-it-is-to-manufacture-a-pop-star’ dressed-up karaoke television show, and hear the boos as he obstinately and impassively divides a prearranged group. He sells the tears of the rejected and the tension as young friends split. You could blame Yoko Ono, if you must, but bands breaking up is, sadly, no new thing.

Hence the accord and friendship between unsigned bands is a delightful contradiction to the harsh realities of the music industry, and I sense an unequalled unity in The Lost Trades, and deep respect for each other’s solo work. Cue another third, Phil Cooper, the binding, organised element of the Lost Trades, and his new solo album, These Revelation Games due for release by Infinite Hive on 30th October. It’s great, I’d expect no less, and Phil’s fanbase too, but it’s varied content would also serve as a taster for newcomers to his repertoire.

Historically it’s been over a couple of years since he sent me his Thoughts & Observations album to review, which does what it says on the tin, largely acoustic-based annotations and judgements. But I focus on a particular night down the Southgate when Phil was accompanied by his Slight Band. Man, he was on fire, loudly and proudly rocking our legendary live music tavern with unsurpassed esteem and passion.  Make no mistake, These Revelation Games contains many a track comparable with Thoughts & Observations, they’re observational and sometimes quirkily humoured. But this new solo album takes no prisoners, and blasts its doors clean off their hinges from the off.  

Yeah, while so the opening tune, House of Mirrors explodes rock, and dare I say it, has that impact of the sixties Batman theme, it shouts the riff at you, second up Phil returns us to the mellowed aural breeze we’re more accustomed to with his recorded material. So, it’s a mixed bag of astutely written and perfectly executed songs with Phil’s joyful aura and defining style.

Eleven songs heavy, the early tunes creep us slowly back to the up-tempo as it progresses. Without a Sound particularly adroitly manages to raise that notion, and Keep Your Hands on the Wheel is a prime example of how Phil ingeniously twists metaphors of the simplest of everyday things. Leading us onto the quirkiest song, I am a Radio. Akin to Robots on the Lost Trades EP, Phil makes a heartfelt connection to an inanimate object, yet here using sound effects to create the idea his voice is operating on shortwave. It’s by far the most interesting and experimental, also absorbing his electronica work under the title BCC.

For marvellously prolific and diversified is our Phil, performing as solo, as The Slight Band, his electronica side-project, or what it’s now concentrated on, the outstanding folk harmonies of The Lost Trades with Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin, Phil never slacks off or confines himself to one sound. “I wasn’t planning a new album this year,” Phil expressed, “but then, all plans for 2020 went out the window six months ago. So, I spent my time in lockdown writing and recording a whole load of songs that explored influences I’ve never explored before.” Therefore, as a solo album, bought about by lockdown, don’t expect it to remain in one place.

It rocks without reference to this folk avenue, for sure, but stretches to every corner of rock. There are surprisingly heavy guitar riffs. Fervent ballads like the particularly adroit Into the Void, whisking Lennon-like. And there’s ardent electric blues, Changing Times perhaps best example of the latter. It polishes the experience off with a Clapton-fashioned smooth blues finale called The Horseman Rides Tonight.

With a plethora of new music being produced, lockdown it seems did have one benefit, and These Revelation Games in a varied taster of a concentrated Phil Cooper at his peak. I look forward to the progression of the Lost Trades, but love this aforementioned freedom to produce solo work too. I mentioned my chat with Tamsin to Phil, about the time and effort dedicated to the Lost Trades, but the joy of the flexibility of freely venturing off to work solo, thoroughly supported by the other members of the trio. “You’re far from the band in the Commitments film,” I noted!

“Yeah,” Phil responded, “having a record label release it has helped keep the balance between solo and Lost Trades stuff. The Lost Trades has always been built on mutual respect for each other’s work, so we’ll always support each other.” Which kinda wraps it up aptly, the ethos of the trio is like this album, nice. Nice one Phil, nice one, son!

Details on Phil Cooper and These Revelation Games, here.


Three Times Better; The Lost Trades @ The Southgate

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.

It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.

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Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.

It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.

In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.

Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.

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Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.

“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.

As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.

Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.

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