Proper Job; Devizes Beer & Cider Festival is Back!

If I said of the Full Tone Festival, last year, “and in the history of events in Devizes, the magnitude of what The Full-Tone Orchestra achieved yesterday will forever be imprinted,”  it was for two reasons; that it was, and also, aside their free gig in the Market Place, it was inaugural. Still, there’s a number of annual events well established in town, already historically imprinted.

One firm favourite, The Devizes Beer & Cider Festival returned post-lockdown, yesterday, for it’s 21st anniversary, a day which can be best described as monumental, if more expected to be than first timers, like FullTone.

I’ve been to a few drinks festivals, where you can choose from top to bottom, left or right, from the displayed kegs, work your way through the lot and return home a tad tipsy. Not so here, unless you’re Oliver Reed. There was just too many to choose from, and I’m only a cider drinker, beer drinkers would’ve needed Norris McWhirter on standby for a Guinness World Record.

You will need to join Devies branch of the beer trainspotters club CAMRA for some detailed analysis of indivdual brands on offer, I took the pin-in-a-map system and came out on top with such a variety of appley tipples I couldn’t begin to list, unless you have all day? Which you might have, being it’s Sunday, and if you attended, you’re probably not feeling motivated to cut the grass!

The main concentration here should, I believe, be focussed not in review of the contents of my souvenir glass, but in sincere thanks to the volunteers who had this huge beer hall running like clockwork.There must have been a pile of socks around the back, because they sure worked them off, and like robots with charisma programming as standard, they served proper job.

The most common verbal appraisals to Devizes Wharfside being transformed into a beer top-heavy festival, on the day, was, like Christmas day after the Grinch, ones of sheer delight that said monumental occasion has been returned to them after the triple year break.

But it’s far from Devizions just loitering, downing this vast selection and singing the event’s praises. Rather than hoist in hired food vans of varying quality, Devizes Rotary took care of the nosh, superbly. With standard barbecue favourites and king sized woks of meat or vegetable chilli, and the ice cream van was busy too.

Busy is an operative word for the event as a whole. Rapping with organiser Don Jones, I was informed attendance figures were very much governed on how much beer they had to sell. Yet by the end, the approximate 1,700 strong crowd prioritised drinking that colossal beer tent dry, and should you be new to town, welcome to Devizes!

It must take experienced organisers to estimate so precisely how much a crowd of this size will drink without too much waste or predicted riot if underestimated. I have trouble guessing how much pasta to plop into the pan when cooking for four!

Anyhoo, rain didn’t rear its ugly mug, and under shaded skies of tolerable temperature, surrounded by deck chair city, sat the main attraction aside the beer tent, ah, some musical entertainment; twist my arm why don’t you?! Atop transport company Garrbutts’ trailer the stage was set for a host of locally-sourced acts. Devizes CAMRA made a wise move to bring in local music aficionados, Ben and his partner Victoria to arrange the entertainment. Being their first time coordinating they knocked it out of the park, or at least, the wharf!

Devizes Town Band opened. I rolled up to Tom Harris and Claire’s rather sea shanty set, inspired by the neighbouring canal I gather, giving it Chicken on a Raft, and other joyful sing-a-longs, they never fail to please.

Followed quickly by Devizes favourite, unpretentious singer-songwriter Vince Bell, who’s intelligently crafted songs and guitar skills shines with every tune. Not content with showing his spellbinding aptitude with self-penned songs rich in emotion and often topically local, he covered David Gray’s Babylon, and proved talent is hereditary, when his, also all-singing (for Devizes Musical Theatre) partner, Lisa’s daughter, Evie, joined him for a homely enchanting tune, Lisa’s kitchen. The finale was the icing, his audience participation unofficial Devizes theme, which if you know, you know!

New to me, Warminster’s Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club was up next, proving the timelessness of classic olde timey Americana. They were a highly skilled trio, guitarist, double-bass and fiddle authenticity breathed life in 1920s swing, tango, and a touch of bluegrass. Something different and welcomed, Tom Waits covers and revised banned rarities, shockingly more effective than it sounds.

With the only warning from “voice of Devizes,” compere Ian Diddams, we were next whisked away to Irish taverns with popular flute and guitar combo, The Celtic Roots Collective, who never fail to engage an audience with isometric Irish folk dance, and seem to me to improve tenfold with every day that passes.

Headlining was the rock classic covers band, Triple JD, from Chippenham, yet a welcomed and regular feature of Devizes’ Southgate’s never-ending musical rota. Cover bands aplenty and available for hire, but if you want something mindblowingly above average, Triple JD put the overtime in. Even dropped from four-piece to three on this occasion, sublime covers of Cream, Deep Purple et al, came thick, fast and acutely delivered with unsurpassed accuracy. But it’s the plethora of Hendrix classics which both dominate the set, and astound; any band who can do that without offending the legend is a cut far above the rest, and Triple JD really push the boundaries of what a cover band should produce.

And so came the end of a hugely successful and highly entertaining day here in Devizes, putting The Beer & Cider Festival firmly back on the event calendar, where it so obviously belongs. It’s affordable, enjoyable through variety, and it’s already historically bookmarked, yesterday served only to reaffirm it.

It’s not really a reggae crowd,”  Nick Newman professed to me, “so, we’re just going to play some Bob Marley and popular tunes.” But if the finale was the wildcard, it proved though a show of heavy dubplates might be niche, everybody loves reggae and it moves the crowd like nothing else.

Dancing broke out across the Wharf as Knati P and Nick Razah did their sound system ting. Knati toasting the crowd, a majority perhaps unaware of “rewind” Jamaican DJ methods, but nevertheless feeling the vibes of a set akin to a breif history of everything that’s great about reggae, from Marley to Millie Small, from Two-Tone to contemporary subgenres, like Groove Amarda. In this they showcased the diversity of a misunderstood genre around these backwaters; causing me to uncaringly spill my cider down my t-shirt in gyrating to the Wailers inaugural ska hit, Simmer Down!

And on that point, it surely clarifies my point about Ben and Victoria’s devotion to bring as larger quality and variety to the music program as the selection of beers and ciders, in what was the perfect denouement to a wonderful evening; in my honest opinion, naturally!


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

300 and still counting!

Andy Fawthrop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Future gigs at The Southgate:

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


Wadfest; Great Community Do Launched at Wadworth

When a better half browsing Facebook, tells her husband about an event in their own town, that’s informative. When the husband runs a local what’s on guide, it’s a tad embarrassing! But that is the unusual way I found out about Devizes’ cornerstone industry, the Wadworth Brewery putting on a mini-festival in their carpark.

This added a droplet to my overall scepticism as to what a do at Wadworth might involve, but what I overlooked was Jim Smith, frontman of local flightless bird rock covers band, Rockhoppaz, was a valid employee of the institution, so there you go. Now, in our last partial review of last weekend’s entertainment before looking to the next, I’ll tell you I did manage to pop along whilst juggling this and Saddleback, by hotfooting the tow path. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Once informed about this by the good lady wife, I despatched an enquiry as to acts booked, and the usual promise of free promotion, but the only reply I received was something about a free T-shirt. Promoters should note, local rags seem preoccupied with national headline clickbait, and a preview on Devizine is worth a zillion self-promoting Facebook posts, but c’est la vie; when I saw the lineup I was immediately reassured this was a worthy venture, and apologise to Waddies for any aforementioned scepticism.

Upon arrival the wonderful folk acoustic soloist and Visual Radio Arts presenter, Sue Harding, one third of Devizes’ two-thirds of the folk harmony trio on everyone’s lips, The Lost Trades’ Jamie R Hawkins, and the incredibly unpretentious Vince Bell had already played, the latter shrugging I missed him as I approached. How can I excuse the plain and simple fact I need my beauty sleep? But I can take it as red, due to past experience, this is a brilliant way to kick off the proceedings of any local do.

Of great consolation, the fantastically cool Ben Borrill was doing his thing, sublimely covering those tasteful classics. Duty called though, when you’ve an invite to a ticketed event where Ruzz Guitar and his Revue were about to begin, you’re more than obliging. My apologies to RockHoppaz, the first full band on. Again though, this is such a renowned local circuit lineup, it may’ve been seen before but of a quailty worthy of all the repeats of the Dave TV channel.

What I did glimpse of Wadfest was just enough to know, this was Devizes’ surprise freebie event of the summer, central, communal, with both pizza and hog roast, and anything where those dynamic retrospective RoughCut Rebels rocks the finale is a-okay by me.

The only nitpicking to let Wadfest down were not the blame of anyone. Firstly, the natural elements’ temporary weekend pause in a record breaking heatwave will always reduce footfall, unavoidable clashes with other similar events in Devizes added to it. A fair crowd of local music and beer afictionardos gathered nonetheless and an enjoyable afternoon was had, cut short by a medical incident of which we wish the person involved all the best for a speedy recovery.

Just prior though, the drizzle did its worst, as the Roughcuts did their cliché but refined Wonderwall cover, and I ducked into The Tap Shop and Bar, grasping a perfectly baked hot and spicy pizza, breaking my Woodland Pizza Kitchen cherry. Ha, this appleman justifes drinking Frome’s finest Lilley’s Cider in the Waddies Tap Shop as being one of my five-a-day. But have to say, the Tap Shop is a thing of beauty, doubly so with such a tasty pizza.

On a better day, free of other town goings-on and a tad clement, Wadfest would’ve been an absolute blast, as it was it made the best of bad situations and did the town proud. I sincerely hope this will turn into an annual event to look forward to in the coming years, and fully praise Wadworth for hoisting in the community spirit and bringing us this delightful lineup of locally sourced acts.


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


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The Lost Trades; Debut at the Village Pump

By Helen Robertson

Images by Abbie Asadi

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On a rainy Friday night in Trowbridge, I followed the directions from the bar staff at the Lamb Inn- past the pool table and out the back – to the Village Pump, a quirky, intimate performance space that was already packed. And there was cake, lots of cake.

This was the first gig for The Lost Trades but most people seemed to know the Wiltshire-based singer songwriters, Jamie R Hawkins, Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin, pretty well as they mingled in the breaks between support acts Vince Bell and newcomers Timid Deer.

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Tamsin confessed she was nervous, hoping the new three-part harmony adventure would start well. She needn’t have worried. The sell-out crowd were on their side right from the start.

 
Swapping instruments and lead vocals throughout the night, The Lost Trades shared their stories and songs with the relaxed ease of seasoned performers. There are three distinct styles to the songs but an obvious pleasure in playing together binds the music into a cohesive set. It’s folky, funny and full on harmony.

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 I’m glad Phil took the time to introduce his original, the Groom of the Stools – a little context went a long way to explaining this rollicking, foot stomping number where “every day I take a look at the Crown jewels”. Google it, trust me it’s that job that you’ve never dreamed about.

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 About halfway through the set Tamsin debuted Hope Cove, a very personal song for a friend about holidays in Devon. Loaded with emotion the absolute strength of the trio, the balance of harmonies, was on display. These three voices create a beautiful rich sound, layered and textured.

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 My favourite song wasn’t an original – sorry guys – but a traditional American spiritual, Down in the River to Pray. The harmonies, wow. Just wow. As it soared and rolled around me, I’m not ashamed to say I might have had something in my eye….

 
The Village Pump is a cracking venue, home to the local folk club and a regular open mic night. I was told a group of friends started the folk club there in 1973 in a barn at the back of the pub. Performances were staged from a wagon and there are nods to this on the walls with horse paraphernalia hanging with tubas, French horns, guitars and pipes from a church organ. Upstairs in the balcony there’s plush red tiered seating from a now-closed local movie theatre. Great acoustics, a welcoming vibe and drinks on tap from the Lamb Inn, it’s just the place to showcase local talent.

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Shout out to Jamie’s fiancé Janey for the cakes – a vote saw the chocolate cake coming out the clear winner with the consolation prize going to Tamsin’s flapjacks. I tried a few, for research purposes. Perhaps more than a few. Yum!

 
The encore was a swinging country version of Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere. I’m picking this is far from the truth for the trio. The Lost Trades are out on a Spring tour now with a handful of gigs around Wiltshire as well as trips to far flung places including London, Stratford on Avon and Exeter between now and the end of April. Details are on their website along with the chance to join the mailing list for early bird benefits.

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© 2017-2020 Devizine (Helen Robertson)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, Vince and Ed Too; Five Go Adventuring to The Southgate

“Norm!” – brilliant, wasn’t he? A kind of anti-hero pre-Homer Simpson. Part of the furniture in Sam’s Bar and despite him being an average guy, when he walked in the whole place lit up. It defined the lyric of the Cheers theme song, “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

If I awakened from my hibernation Saturday night to attend the wonderful Festival of Winter Ales, such was the arrangement of tables in the Corn Exchange, it felt like the sort of event you appeared at with a posse of friends. For Billy-no-mates here, I’m kind of scanning the horizon for people to hassle with my company. So, I nipped out towards the end, knowing what I was doing; I had a calling.

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There is a place in Devizes akin to Sam’s Bar in Cheers, I could visit anytime, but it’s been a while and knowing what’s occurring there, resistance is futile. It takes a few minutes in the winter wind to turn the corner and get the Southgate in my sights, but I’m immediately assimilated into the Borg collective upon hearing her song. While the Southgate strives to bring us a variety of live music acts, regular as clockwork, freely, and from varying locations, Tamsin Quin’s distinctive voice summons me, the very essence of her hometown. It’s like returning for a homemade roast dinner, or a New Jersey resident going to see Springsteen.

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There’s enthusiastic talk between them, about the amalgamation to be, The Lost Trades, yet the trio aren’t leaking any secrets until their debut at the Village Pump. Gate as welcoming as ever, Jamie R Hawkins billed for tonight, “with friends.” You know this is a local circumstance, sharing of the limelight a must, with flare and passion for the venue and crowd, it reflects into their performances. Phil Cooper is like Clark Griswold, if Jamie and Tamsin are Rusty and Audrey, but Vince Bell is also in attendance, so I don’t know where it leaves him! I mean this in so much as Phil is the organised one, with a setlist scheduled, he’s professional in all aspects of the game, providing order to their show. Jamie is sauntering and socialising, before being beckoned to the now legendary red-carpet makeshift stage, “oh, is it my turn?!”

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At that conjunction you’d expect a song come over muddled, but Jamie, like the others, just rolls into it and knocks out the perfect rendition of his own classic, “As Big as You.” Yep, I’m in my comfort zone, with or without an easy chair.

Through all their subtle differences, the trio work, period. As we’ve said here, The Lost Trades will be a natural progression from the sporadic and less formal amalgamations. Phil is thrilled, nodding and telling me how well the harmonies work, and it’s unusual to have a boy-girl-boy harmony trio. The conversation progressing onto Simon & Garfunkel citing the Everly Brothers as the unsurpassed vocal harmony. In this line of chat, you can sense Phil’s passion and love for what he does, and with every performance it shows. If anything, that is the symmetry within this triangle, Tamsin and Jamie sport the same proficiency and appetite.

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I’ll go as far as illustrating this point: later in the evening, after each performer took their turn until Clark’s schedule ran out and the punters craved more, improv covers streamed. Landlady Deborah handed Phil a drum and his eyes lit up like a kid with a new X-Box; “oh yes!” he thrilled, and joined Jamie with it, strumming. There are no prizes for guessing the improv would take over, once drinks were flowing, and with the gang helping one another out. There are subtle hints as to how the Lost Trades will sound, and it’s simply awesome.

For now, though, they’re still three separate performers with an intimate ethos, and Vince is equally involved, rather than treated like a prodigal son. That’s the spirit in a nutshell; be it George, Kirsty, or others, it’s a family affair to make Sister Sledge envious. That’s precisely why Devizine celebrates this little circuit. In a sentence, it’s guaranteed to be an awesome night, and thus it was, with a very special added surprise.

There is nought negative I could say about it. Between acts, if there was a confusion who was up next, the crowd ardently called for “Ed” to take another. I didn’t like to inquire, something I missed? If another singer was present, I didn’t see him, just a ten-year-old sitting on a stool amidst the regulars. Ed did take the stage, the very same; no one nicked his stool.

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If the near future of our local music scene is the progression of these talented adults, we just glimpsed the future beyond. Ed took up his acoustic guitar, played an Oasis cover superbly, and effortlessly raised the roof. What a surprise and absolute gem, reflecting in all I’ve said about the family atmosphere. I chanced my luck and caught a quick chat with Ed, who came across mature and at ease. Oasis songs his comfort zone, for now, he expressed, it was his first time performing to an audience, it did not show. To get an entire pub singing along, no easy feat, well done Ed; you owned it.


© 2017-2020 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Great Night at The Cellar Bar, for Devizes Open Doors

Images nicked from Nick Padmore, cos we love him, and his new lens!

Local musicians, George Wilding, Vince Bell and the Celtic Roots Collective united for a Devizes Open Doors Christmas fundraiser down in that Cellar Bar on Friday night, dragging me kicking and screaming from my outings on Friday nights embargo; least I still made it to work notwithstanding the inclination to slip away quietly before Mr Wilding done his thang! Trust in me then, to produce half-a-review, yet despite what they say about assumption, given the high standard of every past appearance of George I’ve witnessed, I know a supposition of the finale is justified.

Upon my arrival Mirko and Pete were bearing the cobblestone dais, since a split between the four-piece 10p Mixup, the duo now forms The Celtic Roots Collective to deliver what it says on the tin; a jubilant, toe-tapping assortment of Irish folk. And a grand job they make of it. If you missed this, bookmark Feb 23rd, aptly at the Southgate.

Under the impression sixteen-year-old environmental campaigner, Joe Brindle was to make a quick speech, again an assumption he kicked the evening affair off while I still had my hands in the kitchen sink! But before I’d made it to the bar, our often-underrated singer-songwriter Vince Bell tuned. I believe Vince favours it this way, there’s no pretence in his performance, yet his songs hold you spellbound by their accomplished guitar melodies, intelligent lyrics and unbridled delivery of them. Often emotionally poignant subjects, some locally witty, you can never tire of either; let’s hope he really is never leaving Devizes!

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And that’s me done, over and out. Guessing if George Wilding gave a bad performance, I’m the Queen of Sheba. Safe in knowledge, I had to slip out through fear of the fury of old ladies when they didn’t receive their pint of semi-skimmed. A massive well done to the organisers, Mirko and the Devizes Labour Party, including Steve Osborne manning the door. I believe between £200 and £240 was raised for homeless charity Devizes Open Door, with the promise of more such gigs in the pipeline.

As crazy as it sounds upon sharing news of this event, I was subject to one of those pathetic Facebook mini witch-hunts, as if the mere utter of Labour is a swear word in Tory Town; get over yourselves! Devizine, I should point out, is here to promote all events regardless of the political viewpoint of the organisers, and I will not adhere to insular remarks against this ethos. It came to ahead when I was asked why similar Conservative Party events have not been promoted. Upon my response, to notify me of any such events as I was unaware any existed, being left unanswered, I think proves my point at how pitiable this outcry was.

Ironically, I suspect there are no such events, in fact, seems to me the current Government have done nothing to reduce poverty and any of us are at real risk of losing our homes; put that in your pipe when considering this forthcoming election. In which case, we must and will uphold the brilliant work of Angie Carpenter and all the volunteers at Devizes Open Door. I’ve seen first-hand how worthy this charity is, and we’ve raised funds from events at the Cellar Bar ourselves earlier this year.

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All fair in love and war; while local candidate Rachael Schneider Ross and members of Devizes Labour organised and attended, nothing politically motivated took shape throughout the evening, save Rachael’s reminder to me that this gig was organised before this badly-timed election was called. I’d like to remind people, Open Doors is a worthy charity, and aside national affairs, one which known local Conservatives also take an active role and support. If anyone plans to hold a local fundraising event, it is valid (unless it’s for Boris Johnson’s Dom Perignon fund,) welcomed and promoted freely here, but if I’m not made aware of them do not tighten your collar at me! It’s all getting really rather silly now, the premise of the review should be the music, perhaps the venue, a few excuses as to why I couldn’t stay, and that should be it, so let’s keep it that way, please; negative political responses will be deleted, don’t waste your time.

Here’s looking forward then, to a possible series of such events, in which I encourage them to consider holding on Saturday, that is, if they want to see me up dancing! I cut a rug like a carpet layer on a four-day week; just saying!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden


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Top Twenty Best Vids of the Vizes!

Wet play project, can’t be bothered to go out. I’ve complied the best-loved videos documenting our crazy lil’ town, yet it can be updated if you know of a better one? And not one of your barbeque party where cousin Billy lost it on the trampoline; I’m not Harry flipping Hill and you won’t get two-hundred and fifty quid out of me, lucky to blag 10p. Let the arguments commence, but I’ve tried to top twenty the best, based on historical fact, entertainment value, general nostalgia and quantity of eighties short-shorts.

1- I was fascinated to watch this near on half-hour 1956 silent film, A Small Town Devizes. Made by cameraman David Prosser, from a series of similar Small-Town shorts. It features the lives of people in Devizes during Carnival Week August 1956. In the YouTube notes there’s an extensive list of people and companies which featured in the film. If it brings any notable points of interest it must surely be lobbying DOCA to reintroduce the drag-your-wife-along-in-a-pram-attached-to-a-motorbike race, methinks.

2 – Lion in the Hall! Courtesy of BBC Points West, the day in 1980 when escaped circus lions paid Devizes School a visit during the lunch hour goes down in history. Were you there, are you showing your age, and did you try feed the lion your mate’s school tie? What about today’s pupils, do you think Mr Bevan should reinstate this lion, maybe give him a TA job? Would your teacher benefit from fighting a lion, it might help to maintain the pupil’s interest in the lesson?

3 – Boto-X clip 1986. See, my Devizes born and bred better half told me about this strict health & safety regulated event and, if it hadn’t been Devizes, I’d probably have branded her a liar. Delighted to see Caen Hill Locks dig up a clip of this incredibly brilliant Boto-X from 1986. Stop! Win a Colour Telly!

4 – Oh get off my back, I’ve read Tess of the d’Urbervilles, just not any other of ol’ Tom Hardy’s books, it’s not like he’s going to hassle me about it. Far From The Maddening Crowd was his first major novel, and had four film adaptations. John Schlesinger’s 1967 MGM version was part filmed in Devizes, and Bill Huntly of Devizes Television loses his shit about it like it was Casablanca or Star Wars; bless. There are some great clips of the film in this interview, of people drunkenly singing and dancing in the Market Place; something you don’t see every day, eh? Yeah, I know, right, not that far from the maddening crowd at all really, wait for the bin to kick out.

5- Out of all Simon Folkard’s gorgeous aerial shot films, last year’s snow-covered town and canal was undoubtedly the most breath-taking. Oh, that Beast from the East, looks beautiful from above, but just to think, I was wheel-spinning a milk-float down there somewhere, holding on to me gold-tops for dear life.

6- While we’re on the subject of the milkman, here’s Madness disciple Mark’s moment in the spotlight as BBC Wiltshire focus on Plank’s Dairy. It has to be nine below zero before he puts his long trousers on, no one needs to see those knees, Mark. Ask him to whistle a Thin Lizzy tune on his round, I double-dare you.

7- 19 36- Last Train From Devizes. Post-punk poets, Browfort, ingeniously fuse synth-pop and local history in this video about The Beeching Axe and the last train from Devizes in 1966. There’s some great railway footage, mixed with their performance at The Bell on the Green. There’s no evidence to suggest the band will reform as Julia’s House to pay tribute to the first train from Devizes Parkway, when…. erm, if it happens.

8 – If you’re considering shoplifting for camera film in town, watch this early-eighties adaptation of the story of Ruth Pierce by Devizes Cine Club, and you’ll quickly be bored into submission. It really is so bad it’s good. I need not mock it, the acting, production and deviation of facts does it for me. Just to say though, is it me, or does the lead role sound a little like Claire Perry?!

9- We love our whacky historian John Girvan, the only man to enter the Town Hall lock up and live to tell the tale, save for feasting food festival fanatics who failed to note there’s the far comfier Peppermill across the road. But did you know, rather than most men whose interests lie more on what’s inside them, John confesses a love for brassieres? So, if your bra goes missing from the washing line, you know who to point the finger at.

10- Proof that either the legendary ghost of Room 4, or stranger still, the Black Swan’s window cleaner has five fingers. In 2014 the Visual Paranormal Investigations team trucked their mystery machine into our town and, without the great Dane and giant sandwiches, set up an experiment to find out if the ghost broadcasts on FM, like Ken Bruce.

11- More actual evidence in this charmingly narrated clip, this time of the Muppetry of the new traffic light system on London Road. Evidence the road planning department of Wiltshire Council are, and I quote, “retarded!” Classic, don’t hold back Truthseeker. I don’t know who you are pal, but you’re defo not Philip Whitehead.

12- There’s countless musical performers I could include here, but perhaps the widest known and appreciated is blues legend Jon Amor. Here he is, at the International Street Festival 2015 with a lengthy but worthy song, Even After That.

13- Talented Arthur Plumb, the Juggling Unicyclist at Sidmouth Street Festival 2015. While there’s a vast amount of street acts posted to YouTube, from our street festivals and carnivals, if I could only pick one it’s this entertaining Devizes TV presentation of a rather youthful Arthur Plumb. Three years ago, Shambles trader Bill Huntly was fast becoming our town’s TV host, where did he go, someone nick his cravat? Seriously though, hope you are well Mr Huntly and wishing you all the best; we loved your short films.

14- Usually reserved for the still camera, Nick Padmore is a man loved by our local music scene, for capturing the essence of its performers. Here though he videos the man, Vince Bell at Sheer Music in the Fold. Not intending to post too many music-related videos here, this 2017 performance is a must, if not just for Ship of Fools, but his amusing ditty about Devizes, Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive, right at the end of this film.

15- If you ever wondered why Tesco shut its Devizes metro branch, this may go some way to explain why. Yep, never had a lick of paint applied to it since the release of Michael Jackson’s album Thriller. The staff were friendly though!

16- Set the captives free! No really, I think they’d have moved convicts before blowing Devizes prison to the ground to make way for housing in 1927, wouldn’t they? Or did they move into the houses? Might explain a few things. British Pathe have millions of videos on their website, search Devizes and you’ll find a carnival parade of the 1920s and an Army Football Cup final from 1955, to name a couple.

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/prison-walls-make-cottage-homes/query/devizes

17- There’s nothing sarcastic I can comment here, even I wanted to, which I wouldn’t, cos I’m not like that; a gorgeously edited film of Devizes at Christmas by Chris Watkins, accompanied by a song written and performed by the equally wonderful Kirsty Clinch, makes my bells go all jingly…I said my bells!

18- Well done Paige Hanchant, for the only Harry Hill style clip I’m going to allow; capturing this amusing moment on the canal, just when it was going so well too; who ordered the chubster? Awl, bless.

19- No one interrupted the march to nip into Greggs for a sausage and bean melt in 1983, not in this pleasant three-minute video of the parade at least.

20 – Moonrakers Fable. Vintage poem narrator Alan Doel puts on his best Wiltshire accent to recite Edward Slow’s 1881 telling of the Moonrakers fable, and illustrated with postcards and emblems, makes a fair job of it. Yet the tale is known only too well in Devizes, it be rioght gurt lush to ‘ear it read in ye olde Wiltshire dialect, ewe.

That’s all folks, well, I’m sure there’s many others, but these were my favs. Not to blow my own trumpet, but Devizine does have its own YouTube channel, mostly I create wobbly musical performance clips, with a cider in the other hand and standing far too close to the speaker to do the band or musician justice, but they seem like a good idea at the time. So, subscribe at your own risk. I set it up primarily to capture this meeting with local street magician Raj Bhanot in Café Nero last summer, and here he is for a bonus vid.

Perhaps, if we get another rainy day, which is doubtful, I’ll find another set of videos based in Devizes. If you know of any which should be included then do send the link. Saucy ones to my personal email though, please.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


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REVIEW –Vince Bell – 7th July 2019 @ The White Bear, Devizes

VB @ the WB!

Andy Fawthrop

 

OK so it’s the day after the (wonderful!) Devizes Beer Festival and you’ve worked your way through the hangover. You’re starting to feel normal again, but the sun is still shining, the world is still a beautiful place, and you really don’t want to start thinking about Monday just yet. What you gonna do?

Well, here’s a possible solution – head on down to the White Bear. Let me explain.

The White Bear (one of the oldest pubs in Devizes, blue plaque on the wall, blah, blah, blah) is rather on the up over the past few months. New landlords Marc & Georgie have been transforming the place since they moved in. Not only do they have an agreement with Wadworth that the pub can also supply a limited range of non-Wadworth beers on their pumps, and not only has chef Marc shaken up the menu with some glorious and interesting new food choices, and not only do they have some wonderful B&B accommodation, but now they are experimenting with providing a new laid-back music venue.

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The plan is to feature a different artist every Sunday in the 5pm to 7pm slot, in a small, intimate venue with good food and beer, and to create a pleasant and laid-back vibe, perfect for winding down the week-end.

First up this Sunday was local musical hero Vince Bell. But before he took to the mic we had a great support slot from Fraser Tilley, who turned in an enthusiastic and lively set featuring both original and covers material (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, T. Rex and others). He in turn was supported by drummer Tim Watts, laying down some very gentle percussion accompaniment (having played with It’s Complicated at the previous day’s Devizes Beer Festival). The two of them provided exactly what was needed – an uncomplicated (geddit?) drift of songs that had the audience listening and applauding.

After a short break, Tim stuck around to accompany main man Vince. Last time I saw Vince was a few weeks back at Long Street Blues Club, playing support act to Skinny Molly in front of a very large and noisy audience. On Sunday the audience was much smaller, much more intimate, but equally enthusiastic. Vince seemed relaxed and quickly established an easy rapport with the assembled crew, which (obviously) included many local friends. His choice of material was good, mixing his own self-penned numbers, with a few covers including those from a certain Mr Bowie, the Killers, David Gray etc. For an encore he asked the audience which they’d prefer – one his songs? Or a cover? The audience wanted both, and that’s what Vince obligingly delivered.

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So, for the launch of yet another musical venue in The Vize, was it a success? An unequivocal thumbs-up from here – good venue, good beer, good food, nice cool atmosphere and, of course, some great music.

Future gigs are to be announced, but next Sunday (14th July) is already lined up with Bristol-based singer/ songwriter Andy Juan.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.


 

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Mike and the Local Area Invasion Descend Upon The Swan

It was over a couple of years ago I stepped cautiously into the Black Swan, only to receive the pleasant surprise at its renovation and complete change of style. Since this time Devizes takes the alteration as red, and it thrives with eccentricity, vintage chic, quality tucker and music. However, its future is now uncertain as it closes its doors for a refurb and Waddies bring new landlords in.

We hold out for a silver lining, but for the time being, the Black Swan’s current incarnation ends next week. To celebrate its time at the helm of all things unconventional in town, the landlord has requested the presence of the big man, Mike Barham, whose prolific raw dynamism currently reverbs throughout our great county.

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His giant steps certainly get him around, playing the London Road Inn in Calne on Saturday 7th, he’s at the Hare & Hounds in Corsham on the 12th and on the 14th he crosses the border to Frome. In between though, he returns to his hometown for this closing gig at the Black Swan, but he’s inviting a self-labelled “Local Area Invasion,” with him, an amalgamation of our finest local musicians who’ll get to play a couple of songs each, prior to Mike blasting the place with oomph.

 

Yeah, save the date, Wednesday 11th October, where you’ll find at the very least, Jamie R Hawkins, Vince Bell, Larkin, Jack Moore, George Wilding, Jordan Whatley and Tamsin Quin; incredible line-up, for a school night, a virtual who’s who of the Devizes pub music scene sampler; Free!

Here are the details, the rest up to you: https://www.facebook.com/events/282938928863398/

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