You’ll be Broken-Hearted to miss Hannah Johnson

Howdy; yeah, it’s me, riding back to the crossroads on a horse with no name to convince you, once again, that your preconceived ideals about country music are not made of Spanish leather. Hannah Johnson & The Broken Hearts stroll into town on the 23rd March to cast this caboodle out to the desert. Not that we have a desert, but in a way, that’s my point.

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It’s easy to tire of the cliché of the modern country scene and arrive at the conclusion it’s not for you. Agreed, if you screech much of the music coming out of Nashville today denotes watered down country-pop, or stylistically pretentious Americana; same old chanted choruses and stomping drums, country music aficionado Dean Czerwionka, of Wiltshire’s Country Music Scene, Dead Kool Promotions aims to set the record straight.

Keen to promote and bring us all that is great about the scene, rather than the standardised churns of the industry machine, Dean hosts Hannah Johnson & The Broken Hearts at the Cavalier, Devizes on the 23rd March, with one of Devizine’s favourites, the Celtic-based acoustic duo, Sound Affects as support.

 

Surprisingly, it’s our homegrown artists reacting against this notion, and Hannah Johnson is of no exception, she’s from Birmingham. This award-winning (UK Country Artist of the Year 2018 – UK Country Music Awards and Most Successful British & Irish Single 2017, Hotdisc Country Music Awards) Brummie girl began her artistic career working in theatre and television as a child, participating in an unabridged version of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing Puck, aged 11, part of a Central Television actors’ workshop, and acting in national children’s TV shows. But ‘tired of being someone else on stage’ and hailing from a musical home, she began singing, and initially studied the clarinet, but switched to guitar in her teens; realising she couldn’t use the clarinet to back up her vocals.

She soon found a home with the country music genre, through its “humility, simplicity and ability face emotionally complex topics,” not forgoing fifteen years touring extensively in the UK, Europe and the USA as lead in her family band, The Toy Hearts. Hannah’s composition The Captain remains the biggest hit for her family band, the song a testament to both her song-writing ability, and her fierce independence.

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An Alumni of the prestigious IBMA Leadership Bluegrass program, Hannah returns to the UK after a whirlwind tour of Austin, Texas, with shows in London, York, Doncaster, of course her beloved Birmingham, and Devizes. Her debut album, Shaken rinses of country and honky-tonk of yore, with characteristic twangy telecaster riffs and a singing style to make Tammy Wynette blush. With a slight smoky element of Patsy Cline to her voice, the standout tracks are her own compositions, receiving warm reviews.

An event then to warm country fans, and perhaps, ideal to introduce newcomers; you may be the broken hearted of her band title if you miss this one. This event is FREE, waddies, rustlers and cowgirls.

 

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Snakes in a Museum

Yes, it’s a cross between Night at the Museum and Snakes on a Plane, except neither Samuel L Jackson or Ben Stiller will be there, neither any real snakes, which may be no bad thing. This is Devizes, home to the wonderful Wiltshire Museum, where two snakes have slithered up the outside of the Museum building! The snakes were made by Wiltshire Young Carers at a workshop held in the Museum during February half-term.

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This Secret lives of Snakes, family-friendly exhibition opened yesterday. No real snakes, but the exhibit contains lots of interesting facts and details about these fascinating creatures. There’s lots of wonderful photographs, skeletons and taxidermy to highlight the world of these secretive creatures.

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Interactives for children include a snake trail around the Museum. Also, relating to the exhibit, the Saturday morning club for 7-14-year olds, Young WANHS have, “Sssnakes …” – snake-themed craft activities for on 9 March, from 10.15am – 12.15pm. There’s no annual fee, but pre-booking is essential to help the Museum plan the sessions. Each session costs £5 per child.

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Then, on Tuesday 16th April, there’s a Jonathan’s Jungle Roadshow for younger children, suitable for age 4 and over. Children will have the amazing opportunity to find out about, handle and touch a diverse selection of fantastic live animals, including snakes. There are two sessions, 10.15am or 11.30am, each one lasts an hour and is again, £5. Accompanying adults free. Booking is essential as it’s only 15 children per session.

snakes2x533h3The exhibition runs until 28th April, normal Museum admission charges apply, but children and WANHS members are free. The Museum is now open Monday to Saturday – 10am to 5pm and Sundays – noon to 4pm. Bank Holidays may vary, check their website.

 
Yes, there’s stuff for the grownups too, such as lectures; Identity and Ideology during the Beaker period, by Chris Carey, University of Brighton on 30th March, is the only one not sold out. But none of them have got snakes in them! Where’s the fun in that?!

 

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Wiltshire Council Welcome Proposed Road Signs

Since a Wiltshire Council highway engineer advised Devizes Town Council that a sign at the High Street junction with Long Street is not big enough or in the right position last week, the highway engineer has been around our area suggesting other improvements which must be enforced for safety purposes.

 
Devizes Town Councillors were warned people might not spot the present ‘No Entry’ sign, and that it needs to be 600 CMs wide, wider than the road itself. “Maybe even larger, the bigger the better,” said a Wiltshire Council spokesperson, the one who really has the mentality to grasp simple English. “If it means we have to knock down a few historic buildings to make room, then we will.”

 
“We’d really favour,” the spokesman continued, “that the sign is lit with flashing neon letter-lights and overhead floodlights, twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps, it could also repetitively play a Bonnie Tyler song, or even the soundtrack to Rocky 4, to raise awareness of it too.”

 
“Devizes Town Council is clearly not accounting for the prerogative of speeding businessmen in BMWs belting through Devizes without a finger of fudge to road safety. They may have important calls to make on their phones, be preoccupied trying to locate a Starbucks, or generally too busy eyeing up totty to notice the clearly one-way street has standard no entry signs.”

 
The Wiltshire Council spokesperson, who cannot be named because their nametag fell out of their work jumper, because their mum didn’t iron it on well enough, stated, “those who think there’s no accounting for stupidity are wrong. One blast of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Holding out for a Hero’ will alert the most insensitive arsehole; it’s certainly one of my favourite songs.”

 
With this apparent compete lack of competence of town councils to identify these issues, the Wiltshire Council highway engineer has proposed a new selection of signs be erected in obvious danger areas, using visual aids rather than a report, as he can only write in emoji.

 
Devizine has received these exclusive graphic representations for residents to swoon over in delight. I asked the Wiltshire Council spokesperson if he thought they were slightly aesthetically intrusive. “No,” he replied, “I think athletes will love them too.”

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My Kind of Science Fair!

 

Virtual Reality

Throw on your lab coats and grab your goggles: My Science Fair 2019 is here!

 
For the eighth year running, on Sunday 3rd March from 10am-3pm, the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon will host the free family event My Science Fair. The annual Fair, which attracted over 400 visitors last year, promises a jam-packed programme, full of activities, presentations and performances designed to engage young people aged 5+ years in the amazing worlds of music, movements and science.

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The day will begin with a bang as Bath-based Fun Science and presenter Cressida Bullock (known by her scientist alter-ego ‘Chemical Cress’) take to the Centre’s Auditorium stage for an interactive experiment with colour, excitement and fire. The Fun Science team will also be conducting roaming experiments throughout the day around the Centre!

 

This opening performance will be followed by a percussion workshop exploring the fast-paced rhythms of samba music with music leader David Garcia, who will be putting a scientific twist on the vibrant dance music genre. Later, electro-acoustic composer Duncan Chapman will be recording soundbites from My Science Fair attendees to create an enthralling lullaby, complete with the swooping and ethereal sounds of the Theremin and the haunting vocals of an Indian raga singer.

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Elsewhere around the Centre, children can look forward to creating their own plastic models with a 3D printer from the University of Bath or blast off with water powered rockets out on the field. Explore the exciting world of electricity with a Van de Graaf generator in a hair-raising experience, or discover the science behind the music we hear with sonic crystals. Experience a Colourscape installation where you are able to create sounds and digital imagery using your body movements or explore far-off worlds using a virtual reality headset. Budding engineers can check out the LEGO robotics stand, as well as Bot Club, where you can create your own mini-robots, and find out how to use ultrasound to levitate solid objects with University of Bath students.

 

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The Fair also marks the culmination of the My Science Fair competition, for which students from 14 primary schools across Wiltshire and Bath have been devising their own exciting experiments exploring music, movement and science. Experiments will be exhibited throughout the day and will be judged by an expert panel, including scientists from the University of Bath, University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, as well as automotive-test specialists AB Dynamics, the Ministry of Defence and Unilever.

 
As you make your way around the Centre make sure to visit the experiment stands to find out about their investigations, which explore questions such as “Which ingredients are important in a cake?”, “Is it possible to make butter using a bike?” and “Classical or funky music – which is best for sleeping?”

Duncan Chapman Lullaby
My Science Fair is being generously supported by the Bradford on Avon Area Board, the Jack Lane Charitable Trust, NFU Mutual and Wiltshire Music Connect, as well as Wiltshire Music Centre Season Sponsor AB Dynamics. Entrance is free and there is no need to book tickets. Simply bring your enquiring minds and join in on Sunday 3rd March to investigate, discover and create!

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SUN 3 MARCH 10AM-3PM
Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1DZ
TICKETS: This event is FREE to attend. There is no need to book, simply bring inquiring minds on the day and get ready to discover something amazing!

TIMETABLE:
10am-12pm: Fun Science Experiment, Samba Science with David Garcia
12.15pm-2.30pm: Lullaby Recording and Performance with Duncan Chapman
2.30pm: Prize Giving for Young Scientists
All Day: LEGO Robotics Workshops, roaming experiments, Colourscape, virtual reality, Bot Club, water-powered rockets, Young Scientists’ Experiment tables.

 

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Visit http://www.wiltshiremusic.org.uk/mysciencefair

or call the Wiltshire Music Centre Box Office on:
01225 860 100

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FOLLOW, LIKE AND SHARE:
Using the hashtag: #MyScienceFair2019
Twitter @wiltshiremusic
Instagram @wiltshiremusic
Facebook @WiltshireMusicCentre

 

 

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Kent Duchaine – Sunday 27th January @ The Southgate Inn

By Andy Fawthrop

“Great Lazy Sunday Entertainment!”

Dave & Debbie have done a really great job in putting The Southgate back on the Devizes musical map since they took over the pub last year, booking a wide range of great acts from Friday nights through to Sunday afternoons. These gigs are all free entry and, with a comfortable & welcoming environment and all beers at only £3 a pint, it’s a no-brainer to get one’s arse up there to enjoy the musical fare on offer. Sunday afternoons in particular have become one of my favourites – a view obviously shared by the local cognoscenti – for the place was again packed with happy customers.

This Sunday last we were treated to a fabulous session from Kent Duchaine, a man described by Mike Harding as “a legend in his own lunchtime and a REAL bluesman”. I use the word “treat” advisedly, as the man turned out to be one helluva all-round entertainer. Not only did he play some wonderful stripped-back delta blues on his 1934 National Steel guitar Leadbessie, he also connected absolutely with his audience. Every break between songs, every intro, every outro, the man was talking, talking, talking about his life, his travels, his experiences, his deep love of the blues, the music he loved, the blues players he had met an known. And not without a good dose of self-deprecating humour. It was an education just listening to the man. Fascinating. And what a voice! The guy obviously gargles with lumps of granite in his throat! Whether talking or singing, to hear him, (and to look at him) I guess you’d say he’s “well lived-in”, and a well-travelled troubadour.

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Lots of Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, and all the rest of the great bluesmen, just flowed out of him all afternoon. Kent spoke and sang; Leadbessie drawled and crooned. The punters lapped it up.

Absolutely perfect laid-back blues for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Perfect entertainment.

If you’ve not been up The Southgate lately, time you checked it out!

Next gigs coming up @ The Southgate:

• Saturday 2nd February Drew Bryant
• Friday 8th February Clock Radio + The Jelas Live
• Saturday 9th February Tim Manning
• Friday 15th February Fake Walnut Dash
• Saturday 16th February Guilty Pleasure

 

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In Review: The Bradford Roots Music Festival 2019

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Bit out of D-Town I know, but it doesn’t take long to just tootle over to Bradford, and the really splendid Wiltshire Music Centre. I mean – it’s not as far as Tibet is it?

Now in its seventh year, Bradford Roots Music Festival, now extended to three days, is all about two things – showcasing the vast array of musical talent that has any connection with Bradford, and raising (lots of) money for good causes. This year’s beneficiaries were Dorothy House Hospice, Zone Club (creative club for disabled young adults) and Wiltshire Music Centre. All the artists play for nothing and the event is administered and operated wholly by volunteers. That way all the funds raised go to the good causes.

So it’s a local (indoor) festival for local people. But this is not Royston Vasey, it’s Bradford.

And what a lot you get for your investment in a weekend ticket! I counted over fifty performances and workshops you could have attended if you’d really put your mind to it. I had to skip Saturday evening’s offerings (due to the small matter of Mr Wakeman’s KGB putting on a little show back in The Vize), but I still managed to sample more than 30 acts for myself. Once the WMC have given over the building to the Festival organisers for the weekend, the place is utterly transformed. Apart from four different performing stages (including the massive and superb main auditorium), there are several spaces given over to craft workshops, merchandising, tarot readings, a gin and prosecco bar, a main bar and an artisan fair. Just outside there’s a huge marquee hosting Hartley Farm Shop & Kitchen, which runs all weekend serving hot drinks and great array of home-cooked food.

But the music is the main thing. So many acts to choose from, and so difficult to highlight only a few from such a talented array of performers. But here goes: the stand-out acts for me (in no particular order) were:
• A Night In The Blind House – a rock and indie covers band
• Georgia Lewis – a stunning singer, multi-instrumentalist and folk artist
• The Hazir Ensemble – playing some stunning music from the Middle East & Turkey
• Lightgarden – original material from the UK, Russia and beyond, including Mongolian Overtone chanting (don’t ask – you have to hear it & you’ll be amazed)
• Rockpipes – a Bristol-based Celtic rock band featuring bagpipes (honestly!) as their lead instruments. Sounds mad, but it worked!
• The Bumnotes – an 8-piece acapella close-harmony group singing Barbershop

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Over three days I think I heard music from Africa, the USA, Crete, Turkey, Mongolia, the UK and – yes I know I said it wasn’t that far – even Tibet!! There was rock, blues, folk, country, bluegrass, barbershop, choral, jazz, singer/ songwriter, world – you name it!

The Festival is now over for another year but will be happening again next January. I can’t recommend this event highly enough – there genuinely is something for everyone to enjoy, with great food, great beer and a great atmosphere. It’s superb value for money and there’s plenty to do and see for children and for adults. If you’ve never been, I urge you to check it out for next year.

The Wiltshire Music Centre is also a superb venue in its own right, hosting a year-round programme of top UK and international artists from all genres – classical, folk, blues etc. Worth checking out if you are after top-class entertainment.

 

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Soul Sucker

I am a bit, yeah, but I’m talking more about the debut EP from George’s band, Wilding…

 

Images by Nick Padmore

 

It was all going swimmingly in the wee hours of this morning, until I backed the milk float into a ditch. Wedged firmly in the bracken which now resembled a milk bottle tree, wheel-spinning, I sat slanted at the helm like a scene from the sixties Batman series with my head in my hands, soul in the dark; what a sucker.

 
Prior I was bobbing along, minding my own and all was fine and dandy. To add to my general satisfaction I’d Soul Sucker, the debut EP from George Wilding’s band Wilding ringing proficient vibes through my headphones and blessing my ears with its unique and curious composition.

 
Out today, I confirm it’s a foursome of awesome you’d expect from Mr Wilding, yet perhaps too fresh in my mind to make an exhaustive analysis; but here’s my best attempt; better, one hopes, then my reversing skills today.

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Everything about it detonates with George Wilding; his exclusive angle and unusual enchanting bearing, yet rings competent backing and expertise meticulousness the like we’ve been building to with Lunatic and Being Ragdolian. With a rearward melody at the introduction, Mouth Wide Open instigated pondering of post-punk, Siouxsie and the Banshees, but with a smoothed contemporary Velvet Underground developing and moving into a riff distinctly Stereophonics in fashion, with its everyday references to smoking at the bus stop, yet always, unquestionably, George Wilding.

 
The Other Side of Fence, dramatically and wittily lounges through like that Lazy, Lazy River with drunken swagger. Like Jim Morrison sliding over to the next Whiskey Bar, or finger-snappy, easy listening curve of Paul’s When I’m Sixty-Four while surrounded in Sgt Pepper’s psychedelic twirls and soundscapes, it’s equally refreshing and boldly different; blinkin’ marvellous.

 

Though maybe less experimental and free flowing then it’s previous neighbouring tracks, Slip Away is archetypical Wilding on form, current but nodding at nostalgia with the potential to plod into becoming a sozzled man-bonding, swaying-in-the-pub type anthem.

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A delicate acoustic guitar riff, under ambient soundscape introduces the mellowed finale, Dirty Dream Balloon polishes this EP with a dreamy porcelain-doll-ballad, and, as is the rest, an experience beyond confines of “local music,” and into its own autonomous realm; in a word; it’s gorgeous.

 
It’s if Lou Reed could hold a note, its if psychedelia met Britpop, it’s a crumbly Flake chocolate bar spreading across your beatnik mum’s Meerabai sofa throw, no matter how much you try brush it off with unsteady hand, you cannot escape that its visible; this timeless EP will stain your music collection forevermore with a benchmark of creative genius.

 

Out today across all platforms: Bandcamp —– Spofity —– Amazon

 

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