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

A Night Of Extreme Violins

Andy Fawthrop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Devizes Carnival Returning to Traditional Date

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

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

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

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

International Street Fair – 27th & 28th May

Picnic in the Park – 18th June

Colour Rush & Confetti Battle – 19th August

Carnival Parade – 2nd September

Hummm, summer; I’m there already!


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Mighty Mighty; The Scribes Storm the Muck!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Dr John Otway Rocks Trowbridge’s Pump

By Lorraine Briggs

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

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

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

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

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

For future gigs at The Pump, click HERE.


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

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

DOCA Step into Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Devizes First Ever Life-Size Advent Calender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


List of Participating Groups



1st – Bishops Cannings School

2nd – Sustainable Devizes

3rd – Devizes 6th Scout Group

4th – Christingle

5th – Featherbrook Connect Group

6th – Wiltshire Police

7th – 10:10 Youth Group

8th – Oliver’s Connect Group

9th – Lighthouse Youth Group

10th – The Journey Group

11th – Remembering & Thanksgiving

12th – Sibson’s Connect Group

13th – DOCA

14th – Trinity School

15th – Big Sound! Community Choir

16th – The MacDonald Family

17th – Southbroom St James School

18th – Home for Good

19th – St Andrew’s Church

20th – Hope for Justice

21st – Sheep Street Baptist Church

22nd – Jones’ Connect Group

23rd – The British Lion

24th – St James Church


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 22nd – 29th November 2022

Heads down for the last week of November, and there’s so much to get through. As usual, links and details to all events mentioned here are listed on our event calendar HERE, so check it out, as it may yet be updated before the week is through.

The observant among us (I’m told there are some!) will notice I’m deleting past dates now, so today’s date will show at the top of the calendar, hopefully making it easier to follow. I’m looking at better ways to present this info, but to be honest, Google calendars are impractical for storing the vast amount of info we have here, and the site is restricting on what we can do. I’m working on it but finding a method which is easy and quick to put up the information and equally user-friendly is tricky.

Anyway, lots to get through… Tuesday, I got nothing, the regular acoustic jam night down The Southgate Devizes on Wednesdays, and on this Wednesday, 23rd, Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Matt Deighton plays The Tree House, Frome and there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop starting at Salisbury Arts Centre, running until 30th.


To be honest, there’s so many craft fayres and Christmas events happening it’s impossible to keep track and also keep sane! Do look out for them on your local social media groups.

On Thursday 24th Milton Jones brings his Milton Impossible tour to the Cheese & Grain. There’s open mic at Stallards, Trowbridge, while their town hall has The I’s Have It, a pre-Christmas celebration of Italian and Irish, with music from Luca Rossi and Ruairi Glasheen, plus a delicious three-course Italian feast.

With the theme ‘Cold Weather, Warm Hearts’ the week ends with DOCA in Devizes, starting Thursday Devizes Window Wanderland 2022 will be go! DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Anyone with a window can create a display, but you should have registered for this already. All the public now need is the interactive map of Devizes highlighting all the different window locations.


And onto Friday 25th, the Devizes Winter Parade will light up the town, need I say more? Only to wish all the DOCA volunteers the very best, and Annabel and Ashley especially for their maiden voyage at the helm! There’s been a few social media posts about what to expect, such as the Celestial Sound Cloud; an interactive sound art installation from Pif-Paf Theatre, to be installed in the grounds of St. John’s on Friday and Saturday. They all look breath-taking, and the Shambles will be open late for shopping, and all this is leading me to believe this is going to be the most memorable one yet. Lanterns assemble!

Atop of this, The Pelican holds a Christmas Lantern Parade Festive Karaoke Party, and it might be your last chance to catch the highly recommended People Like Us before Christmas; they’ll be at the Three Crowns, Devizes; tidy!

Elsewhere on Friday, John Otway plays the Pump, Trowbridge. Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment presents The Moon Hares at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, and Matt Owens & The Delusional Vanity Project play out their album “Beer For The Horses” at its launch at Chapel Arts, Bath.

Fossil Fools play The Vic, Swindon, while Fort Boyard & SexJazz do the The Rolleston, and its soul night at Meca, with an evening called Lost in Music.

Barnstormers Comedy at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s Friday done.


Saturday 26th is big, and it’s not just Lego Club from 3-4pm at Chippenham Museum! Winter Festival in Devizes continues, plus…….

I believe they’ve sold out now at SoupChick, who hold their second feast in the Shambles, Light of Kashmir promises to be beguiling, exclusive evening celebrating Kashmiri Cuisine and Couture, hosted by Angela Cave of The Parrot Cage and Anya Toropov of Soupchick. I attended the first one of these fabulous feasts, my tastebuds are still loving me for it. I am so sorry to miss out, but I will be at our Editor’s Pick of The Week!

Editor’s Pick of the Week: The Sribes at the Muck & Dunder

Despite Friday’s Lantern Parade, which should in most reasoning be my pick of the week, I’m certain there will the entire population of the Devizes area attending, ergo there’s no need to plug it anymore. No, what I’m talking about is the evening at the Muck & Dunder Rum Bar in Devizes I’ve been waiting for an age for, when hip hop sensations The Scribes bring boom bap to town; this, I tell you now, will go off. Tickets are running low, get in now, they’re only a fiver, and I hope to see you there, with one hand in the air! I did a poster for it, but they didn’t use it, I thought it quite good, and being they’ve not done another poster for it, I’m using to highlight it here, but you should note, it’s not the official poster!

Rockport play The Southgate, Pink Mac at the Barge, Honey-Street, Chaos Brothers at the Lamb, Marlborough. Melksham Rock N Roll Club have The Delray Rockets, and there’s the 20 Things for 20 Years Big Ball at Spencer’s Club.

Oh, and don’t forget The Toy Pig Race at Erlestoke Golf Course, which sounds too much fun for me!

The Moscow Drug Club, another disappointed missed gig for me after reading Andy’s superb review when they came to Devizes Arts Festival; they play the Pump, Trowbridge. Meanwhile find The Reservoir Hogs at The Wiltshire Yeoman, on Chalk Road.

Lonely Road Band play Colerne Liberal Club, Alter Eagles at Chapel Arts, Bath. Also in Bath, the interactive Alice in Wonderland Experience begins. Calan at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, also there, Bath Camerate presents Mother & Child.

In Swindon, there’s a Sahara Trek Fundraiser for Prospect Hospice with Slagerij, Death is a Girl, and Buswell & Nyberg, plus DJ Dust at Level III, while State of Quo play The Vic; they might be a tribute act, but I’m not certain of whom!!

Panto time, of course, Wharf Theatre announced they’ve sold out for Little Red Riding Hood, though we may yet be able to bring you a review of the night. So, find Cinderella starting at Salisbury Playhouse, opening Saturday, and running until January 23rd. Staying in the Spire, The Spitfire Sisters play Salisbury Arts Centre.

That’s Saturday dusted, from hip hop to panto, and rock n roll to pig racing! Last but by no means least, lucky ones get to see Turin Brakes play the Cheese & Grain, Frome; where else?!


Sunday 27th and Jon Amor’s residency at The Southgate, Devizes has been shifted from it’s usual spot, first Sunday of the month to this Sunday, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The fantastic N/SH plays Avebury Music Night, and the Bath Symphony Orchestra are at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon; weekend over, unless you’ve heard something we haven’t; then why did you not tell us about it?!

Nothing on Monday and Tuesday, yet; get some shopping done, don’t be like me and wait to the last minute because you’re too busy telling everyone else what they should be doing!! See you at The Muck? Hip hop hooray!


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REVIEW – Jazz Sabbath @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Sunday 20th November 2022

You wait for one to come along….

by Andy Fawthrop

After Saturday’s double-header at Long Street Blues Club with the Alex Voysey Trio and Hardwicke Circus, there was hardly time to draw breath on this exciting musical weekend.  A quick shift from the Con Club to The Corn Exchange, and there we were on a rare Sunday night out.  Yesterday evening D-Town hosted Jazz Sabbath as part of their UK tour, a date long in the calendar thanks to the forward thinking of Paul Chandler’s Longcroft Productions.…..

I’m sure Paul had been hoping for a somewhat larger audience to pack out the Corn Exchange, but there were still plenty enough people there to enjoy the club-style layout of dimly-lit tables and a sparsely-lit stage.  And the quality of the music provided was absolutely top-notch.

First up in the Support slot was London-based Billy Watman, who turned out to be an absolute wizz on the guitar.  Having spent his training in classical and flamenco styles, Billy treated us to an absolute master-class in how to get every sound possible out of his instrument.  With the occasional use of loops and pedals, he laid down his own backing tracks before playing some of the most virtuoso acoustic guitar work that I’ve seen or heard in a very long.  Explaining what he was doing as he went along, in modest and understated style, he laid out fingerstyle versions of Back To Black, Boney M’s Rasputin and even Pink Floyd’s Brick In The Wall.  This guy was massively proficient – there’s just no other way to put it.  He had the audience on side right from the get-go.  In fact there was only one thing wrong with his set – it was simply too damned short at only 20 minutes.  I’m pretty sure the audience would have liked a lot more.  Great stuff.

After the interval, and before the main act took the stage, we were treated to….a film!  A short docu-style item, featuring many celebrities, setting up the myth of the band doing their first gigs for 53 years!  (If you go onto their website you can read all the spoof material for yourself).  The joke/ conceit was maintained throughout the evening with further bits of film, and Adam himself pretending to be an 84-year old (he’s actually 48, just be clear).

I don’t know – you wait for years for a Black Sabbath tribute band to play in D-Town, and then two of them come along in a matter of a few weeks (Black Sabbitch played here only a month ago).  And then they were on stage.  Jazz Sabbath featured Adam Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman, keyboards, Dylan Howe, son of Alan Howe on drums and Jack Tustin (son of his parents I’m sure), on upright bass.

The whole idea was to produce jazz interpretations of Black Sabbath classics.  Sounds mad, but it wasn’t.  Adam has cut his teeth working for many years both with Black Sabbath, and with Ozzy Osborne’s Band, so he’s pretty familiar with the heavy metal basic material.  However his arrangements were an almost unrecognisable world away, and lots of the material was Adam’s own contemporary compositions.  This was very little Sabbath, and very much Jazz.

The two sets, apart from the spoof interruptions, were confident, laid-back, melodic and highly enjoyable.  Adam himself, taking the lead on piano, did all the talking.  It was uncanny to see him sitting in exactly the same place as his father Rick had done almost four years ago when he played the same stage with his KGB band. The audience, who were soon into both the music and the comedic wrap-around, were attentive and appreciative.  There was a richly deserved encore, and the crowd hit the streets happy, having been royally entertained.

And just time for a general shout out to all those who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this gig happen, and to transform the barn of the Corn Exchange into a warm welcoming club atmosphere – from the sound guys, the stage setting/ lighting, the table lay-outs – a perfect backdrop for some great music.  This is the sort of gig that helps to put D-Town on the UK musical map, and further proof that the town can punch above its weight in terms of musical quality.  The gig was a bit of a (financial) risk, and whilst it might not have entirely paid off, it was nevertheless (musically at least) an absolute triumph.  Maybe the tickets were a bit expensive?  Maybe folks don’t like going out on Sunday nights?  Who knows?  But this sort of gig needs all our support.

And there’s a chance to do just that in a couple of weeks’ time when virtuoso keyboard player Lachy Doley (dubbed the Jimi Hendrix of the Hammond) plays his only UK date in D-Town on Friday 9th December.  Get out and get those tickets – this is going to be a real one-off!


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REVIEW – The Alex Voysey Trio & Hardwicke Circus @ LSBC, Con Club, Devizes – Saturday 19th November 2022

Double-header, Double the Fun!

by Andy Fawthrop

In yet another busy musical weekend for Devizes, it was hard to choose where to go, with gigs all over the place.  A nice problem to have I guess, but on Saturday night I threw my money into the Long Street Blues Club hat to see two bands that were completely new to me.

First up was the Alex Voysey Trio. Alex had previously played the club back in February as support to Mike Zito.  On that occasion he played a solo acoustic set and impressed enough to be invited back with his full trio.  Alex has worked as a session and support musician to many big names in the business, and in many musical genres.  He’s a passionate advocate for blues music, and used his trio to great effect here, covering both traditional numbers and to his own modern compositions.

With Paul Arthurs on drums and Ben Hands on bass, Alex hit the stage with a range of snappy and upbeat blues/ rock numbers.  He soon had the crowd on-side, and used the opportunity to mix it up a little with a couple of slower, more laid-back numbers.  His one-hour set was sound, competent and thoroughly professional, featuring some nice flourishes on lead guitar.

The second half featured the first D-town appearance for Carlisle-homed five-piece Hardwicke Circus who, quite rightly it seems to me, are being tipped for big things. They’ve already opened for mega stars such as Bob Dylan at Hyde Park and for Southside Johnny.  Paul McCartney allegedly persuaded Glastonbury festival to get them to play, which they duly did.   And it didn’t take long for everyone last night to see why they’re so well thought-of.

The band featured Jonny Foster (lead vocals and guitar), Tom Foster (drums and vocals), Joe Hurst (bass and vocals), Lewis Bewley-Taylor (keyboards), Jack Pearce (saxophones).  This combination provided a great solid and multi-dimensional sound.

They’re a hard-working, hard-gigging band and it showed.  They’re young, sparky, almost punky, occasionally poppy, accompanied by some healthy doses of attitude.  But they’re very good, and they know it.  Their sound is strong and fresh, and has brought comparisons to all sorts of bands.  For me that included Dexys, Wilko Johnson, Madness, Fratellis – a little bit of something for everyone.

Straight from the off we knew we were in for a great set.  Lots of heft and drive, fast numbers, no messing about.  Loads of healthy banter with the crowd, and some well-placed audience participation in some of the choruses (“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” springs to mind).  There were plenty of good tunes, catchy hooks.  No long intros, just plenty of songs packed into their 90-minute set.  The crowd absolutely loved it, and an encore was never going to be in doubt.  But what an encore!  The band were joined on stage by Texan Joe King Carrascoa, guitarist and vocalist, and proceeded to deliver a six-song masterclass in how to play a crowd.  In among there were a solid rendition of The Band’s “The Weight” and a stonking version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”.

If the future of music is in the hands of bands like this, we really have nothing to worry about.  This was an old-fashioned rock band in very capable young hands.


Future Long Street Blues Club gigs:

Friday 23rd December 2022                         Gee Baby I Love You

Friday 13th January 2023                              Chicago Living Legends

Saturday 18th February 2023                       Eric Bell Band

Saturday 1st April 2023                                  Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames

Saturday 15th April 2023                               Billy Walton Band

Saturday 6th May 2023                                  Kyla Brox Band

Saturday 27th May 2023                               Gerry Jablonski Band

Saturday 24th June 2023                               Earl Slick Band

Saturday 28th October 2023                        Susan Santo


Trending…..

SGO Folk Up The Southgate

What of the apostrophe, diacritical, a punctuation marking a possessive case of nouns, a contractive omission of letters, or perhaps, in this case, a leftover smudge on a pub chalkboard?! Taking said chalkboard listing S’Go as the omission would read “S” for something, “go,” which could easily be ill-perceived as ultramodern funky electronica, or something loosly along those lines; not the case for this wonderful Swindon-based five-piece folk assemble.

Debroah, landlady of Devizes’ Southgate afirmed to me earlier in the week,“they’re an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” and to know the affectionately dubbed “Gate” is to know never to doubt her word on this subject. So, far from potluck, I dropped in, Deborah was already up dancing with the crowd, while George the pub alsatian slept in the makeshift apron.

Cleared up any band name confusion with the bowler hat attired frontman during their halfway break. Seems the apostrophe is old hat for the band, favouring it as an abbreviation, SGO, of which he may’ve broken down for me but I missed it in the alcohol-infused noisy moment. Regardless, he suggested a dislike of the name was unanimous between its members, so subject to change, ergo; none of this really matters anyway.

What matters is ever the music, atmosphere and levels of enjoyability, and while Devizes hosted another Long Street Blues Club night and the Condado Lounge was brimming with fans of Finley Trusler and Mark, only an adequate houseful graced the dependable tavern, I’ll confirm those who did wouldn’t deny for what matters, SGO skyrocketed all said levels.

Pub dog George seems to detect the impending intoxication levels of the human punters, connecting it to their need of dancing, and, after time prefers to slumber under the bar hatch. But one ponders the attraction in kipping directly in front of the performers is likely the natural heat they give off makes it the warmest spot. Though steady to begin with, SGO certainly gave British Gas a run for their money.

Brimful of sea shanties, hornpipe, parissienne and gypsy jazz, with subtle hints of Americana and country blues, SGO are both charming and accomplished. Melodically harmonising through geetars, fiddle and accordian, they reaffirm folk is the backbone to all modern musical genres, and launch preconceived notions of frumpiness within the modern scene out into the stratosphere. Akin to what Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club are putting down, this is achieved through replicating the timeless sounds of which folk have revelled in for centuries, and validates its worth in modern day.

All tradtions of folk were honoured, SGO covered classics, sporadically upping the tempo, enthused their audience, were amusing with localised ditties and personal prose. Referencing an expedition between their hometown’s landmarks the Richard Jefferies Museum to Coate Water as a sea shanty being a particularly adroit example. Yet they were at best producing some sublime instrumental moments of skillful union. The crowd were swaying in bliss, and perhaps, booze too.

Therefore the demanded encore was aptly Gretchen Wilson’s “You Don’t Have to Go Home, but You Can’t Stay Here.”

My lucky dip came up trumps, and a great night was had, although that’s the standard model at the Southgate. You should note Jon Amor’s monthly residency has been shifted to next Sunday, Rockport rocks up there next Saturday, one third Lost Trader, Phil Cooper follows on 3rd December.

For SGO, I’d recommend S’going to check them out, and can be found at Swindon’s The Gluepot on Thursday 1st December, with support from Shedric, and The Hop Inn with support from Canute’s Plastic Army on Wednesday 7th. Follow their social media HERE for updates.


The Dinner Party – TITCO @ The Wharf Theatre, Devizes

An Open Love Letter – To TITCO

by Ian Diddams

Most reviews are quite sombre, written in the third person with a degree of distance.  Not this one. It’s time to throw that book away and speak from the heart. This “review” is openly praiseworthy and could even appear sycophantic. Meh. Whatever. It probably is somewhat cringeworthily first person centric – always a no-no. Though I would hasten to add that while I mention “me” and “I” quite a lot the real recipient of attention is most definitely…  “The Invitation Theatre Company” a.k.a TITCO.

Some history.  TITCO was started by Jim and Mary Roberts, in Devizes, back in the 70s, based on a bunch of friends coming together to put on shows others didn’t. They both passed on in time and TITCO “went to sleep” for a while – until resurrected with a passion by Jim and Mary’s daughter Jemma in 2009. Since then, Jemma and her husband Anthony have driven TITCO on in a similar vein to her parents – a bunch of friends putting in shows nobody else does.

There’s one very important word in the above paragraph.  The F-word.

Fast forward to 2022, November. And “The Dinner Party”. It’s been mentioned that this will be the last TITCO show for a while – and the setting of “The Dinner Party” (TDP for future reference!) is a beautifully framed homage of that situation. Set as if in Jemma and Anthony’s home (complete with genuine pictures and wall art from their real home I can testify – plus their lovely dog, Wilson!)  the setting is that of a get together for “Titters” – the members of TITCO.

This is where my review gets personal, and breaks the traditions as explained above. I was invited into the TITCO fold in 2015 for “Pirates of Penzance”, was made a Titter in 2015 and have shared a stage on multiple occasions since then. The rollcall is amazing…  including “Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s” (WOTW)– twice. Driven by Anthony’s pride and joy “The Full Tone Orchestra” (FTO) of course.

So you see, I am part of this amazing company.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” …  As some bloke once said…
And of course, Sisters (Sister Act 2016!).

Friends.  Friends that come together and create amazing shows.

Which brings us back to TDP. Naturally.

So, the bunch of friends meeting for a dinner party naturally – this being TITCO – leads to spontaneous singing and performing as everybody takes it in turns to entertain the table or sing together in shared beauty. The evening’s menu is a mix of old and new, well-loved songs. From a starter of a few run-a-dub, London based favourites (“Last Night at the Conductors Arms”) onto a main course where some pretty serious singing came out. Promoted from his youthful renditions of Frederick, Sean Andrews gallantly moved into Major General mode – followed shortly after by “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” (A FTO Big Band speciality of his). South Pacific made its appearance (Brief History of Musicals 2015) with a heart rendition from the chaps of “Nothing like a dame” but not until after a spirited, marigolds glove tassel twirling (*cough*) performance of “Wash That Man” !

The revamped TITCO’s first musical – JCS – was paid tribute to with Herod’s song – led by the joyous Tim Hobbs – and the ladies’ exquisite “Could we Start Again Please”? Blood Brothers came to the party also with “Marilyn Monroe” by Ally Moore and an ensemble “Tell Me It’s Not True”. The “big show” additions continued with Chris Worthy singing “Forever Autumn” from WOTW …  but we were also shown little TITCO in-jokes throughout the show. Let’s just say that one Titter is NOT a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan – but succumbed to the (Hot) Mikado’s “The Hour of Gladness” …  good on ya Jemma! The main course came to its end with a couple of light-hearted pieces – “Me and My Shadow” by Chris and Anthony – somewhat a party piece of theirs, truth be told – and a fantastically hilarious version of “Pam” by Tina Duffin.

That wasn’t quite all of the main course though. As an almost surprise and wonderful lets-slip-this-in, one of TITCO’s stalwart accompanists Dominic Irving dueted with Mari Webster on “City of Stars”. Dom is one of those people that can play about a million instruments brilliantly – but I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him sing – until tonight. Wow. Just – wow….

The night was hurtling towards its conclusion now. Five ensemble pieces completed our pudding course – with tear jerking numbers “Seasons of Love” and “Hallelujah”, and the uplifting and vibrant “Circle of Life”, “From Now On” and “Rhythm of Life”.

Then the dinner party was over, and so the guests wended their way into the night, Jemma said good night to Anthony…  who called Wilson into the garden.

Lights Out.

I started this review saying this was an open love letter to TITCO.  And it is. From your invitation in 2015 until today as a company TITCO has shown me friendship, inclusion, and provided me with every opportunity I could want in TITCO shows – and allowed me to run the show bars!.  From a somewhat fay pirate (Pirates of Penzance), to a mobster (Sister Act), The Voice of Humanity (WOTW – twice), to cow & narrator (the “cowrator” in “Into the Woods”), Albert the publican (Last night at the Conductor’s Arms ), then a hectic seven characters and twelve costume changes plus ladder climbing in two hours (Spamalot). And of course ensemble singing and solos in concerts and the FullTone Music Festival. You built me. I’ve done amazing shows with other companies, but TITCO built me. And I thank you.

I wasn’t involved in tonight’s Dinner Party – a medical procedure (a good one I hasten to add!) precluded my involvement. But I sat in the audience, watching my friends deliver another polished smooth performance. Under my breath I sang with them. I laughed at the little in-jokes. I wanted to be there with them – but then I couldn’t have enjoyed their joie-de-vivre, seen the love, the friendship oozing from their every pore. As a sign said on stage “Friends are the greatest gift in life”.

Chapeau TITCO. I raise my walking stick to you all tonight.

A final word (or ten…).  This is “the last TITCO show for a while”.  So I just want to say as I sign off my open love letter is…

From Now On …  Could we Start Again Please.

Love you all

Didds
xxxx


Trending….

Town Council Register Warm Spaces Devizes

Like a descriptive paragraph from a Dicken’s novel, as similar across the UK this season, Devizes Town Council has provided information about a local “warm spaces” initiative, of which you need to resigter your venue or activity, if you can help.

Register HERE.

They will be adding a downloadable list of all registered warm space venues to their website soon. I hope we can replicate it here to spread word of this saddening yet essential service. Feel free to contact us if we can help in any orher way too.

Warm Spaces Devizes is a local community provision of safe, welcoming warm spaces that are free and open to all in Devizes and nearby villages. The spaces will provide a warm location, refreshments, companionship and information on how to weather the cost of living crisis. You do not need to freeze this winter.

This follows a similar pattern across the county, Wiltshire Council has created an online interactive community directory to help people find warm spaces and community food providers in the county to support them.

Access this HERE, to find what support is available nearby and across the county. Go to the directory and select your postcode area, this will automatically generate a list of what is available, as well as a host of other useful features.

Those in other locations, can find their nearest warm space HERE.

Naturally, they all suggest attending can help to reduce your heating bills. In this “starve or freeze” coming winter, make no mistake, this is a disheartening article to have to publish, particularly in an area assumed to be affluent.

While I’m pleased to hear such schemes are being created, it is clearly symbolic of the absolute failure of this government, and while county councils like Wiltshire continue to tow the Conservative line, I’m of the honest opinion they are duty bound to attend to this crisis. We will not thank them here, but we will acknowledge their efforts.


Weekly Roundup of Events in Wiltshire: 17th – 23rd November 2022

Got a proper soaking this morning, fat lot of good it is whinging to you about it, you are here only for the lowdown on autumn happenings this coming week, so I’ll waste no time waffling, don’t worry about me, yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine!

Currently up and running, until Saturday, is TITCO’s Dinner Party at The Wharf Theatre.

Staying in Devizes, Thursday 17th sees the opening of the historic event, Devizes Eisteddfod. Here’s the place to find future local stars of the arts, a five-day festival of over 400 classes of music, speech, drama, dance, writing, art, photography, and composition, for people of all ages, who may enter individually or through a school or group. There are competitive and non-competitive classes. The Music, Speech and Drama classes will be held in Devizes Town Hall. Find out more HERE.

Over in Bradford-on-Avon, check out Dylan Smith who has an official launch gig for his Cruel to be Kind album at The Boathouse.

Also find Ezio playing Chapel Arts, Bath. And for some doom metal and stoner rock, try a double-header at The Vic, Swindon, with Phantom Droid and Dark Prophecy.


Friday 18th is Marlborough’s Christmas Light Switch-On.

After The Rocky Horror Experience, Soul II Soul’s Feel Free Tour comes to Meca. Yes, I said Soul II Soul, wowzers! But if you’ve no tickets get in or check the alternatives in Swindon; The Beverley May Band at The Sun Inn, Coate, Splat the Rat play The Hop Inn for Swindon Folk Club.

In Devizes, it’s pub quiz time in aid of Arts Together at the Cavalier, and I’ve got to recommend the highly entertaining Blondie & Ska duo, who play The Pelican. Chippenham duo, as it says on the tin, do Blondie covers but also include those Two-Tone classics, in a kind of fashion you’d wished Blondie covered them; it’s lots of fun. In fact, it was going to be editor’s pick of the week! UPDATE: sorry to hear this has been cancelled. Postponed until 3rd February.

Drag Show at the Neeld, Chippenham, with The Dazzling Diamonds. Limehouse Lizzy at Salisbury Arts Centre.

After N’Famady Kouyate at Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, they’ve got something on my hitlist, the acclaimed Moments of Pleasure, a Kate Bush tribute. Meanwhile, it’s bonkers at The Three Horseshoes with a triple bill of Hell Death Fury, Lone Sharks, & Monkish.

Craig Charles is on the wheels of steel at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, while Richard Norris plays sister venue, The Tree House.


Saturday 19th, kids, Lego Club, at Chippenham Museum from 3-4pm. I know I keep mentioning this regular event, but I love the sound of it, wish there was a Lego club when I was a kid, and well, I might go one day anyway. My own kids will be like, “dad, I need a lift to my science book writer’s guild annual general meeting,” and I’ll be like, “fat chance, I’m off to Lego Club!”

Find handmade jewellery, woodwork, hand-poured candles, scented soap, artwork, and handbags at the Mynt Image Craft Fair at Devizes Corn Exchange from 10am-4pm. And in the evening find the Hardwicke Circus and The Alex Voysey Trio at Long Street Blues Club; upcoming talent Saturday, sounds tempting, very tempting! UPDATE: being our Editor’s pick of the season has been postponed, this isnew Editor’s pick of week!

The Southgate promises folky blues with S’Go, a new one on me; Deborah tells me, “They’re an eclectic folky blues collective. They played a few crazy tunes in a circle in the middle of the pub once. Everyone loved it, we booked them!” Cannot argue with that. Ye gods, that sounds tempting, very tempting too, what am I to do?!

Night Jar play Woodbrough Social Club, Miranda Sykes’ Show of Hands is at Marlborough Folk Roots, at the Town Hall, and the local favourites, Humdinger play The Lamb, Marlborough.

There’s a Trowbridge Weavers Christmas Market, and Gaz Brookfield plays the Pump, with Heartwork and Be Like Will in support, but I believe it’s sold out, check their website, but be quick on the flux capacitor. You could always head to the Somerset Arms, Semington failing that, where you’ll find The Beverley Maye Band, or The Buckly Rage at the Three Horseshoes, Bradford-on-Avon.

The wonderful seven-piece soul band, aptly named Blue Soul Band play the Contsti, in Chippenham, tributes The Faux Fighters at The Vic, Swindon and Coldplace at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

Jessica Fostekew’s Wench runs at Salisbury Arts Centre, and that’s your Saturday night.


Sunday 20th. I’ve checked this over and over, and it definitely says, Jazz Sabbath is at the Corn Exchange, Devizes on Sunday, are we sure it’s not Saturday, people? Damn your eyes, that’s a school night!

Also occurring, Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra with Huw Warren at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, Clinton Baptiste tour at the Cheese & Grain, Frome, after a record fair, and tribute L1nkn P4rk at The Vic, Swindon.


And that’s your lot, I got nought for Monday and Tuesday, but don’t forget it’s the regular acoustic jam at the Southgate Devizes on Wednesday, 23rd, and Richard Robbins presents Passage of Time at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon, there’s a Willow Reindeer Festive Workshop beginning at Salisbury Arts Centre, which runs until 30th, and Matt Deighton is at The Tree House in Frome.


The biggies next week are of course, the Winter Festival and lantern parade in Devizes, Friday, and the start of the Window Wanderland. Saturday sees the second feast at Soup Chick, of Kashmir cuisine, and The Scribes come to Devizes, at the Muck & Dundar. We love the Scribes here at Devizine and are thoroughly looking forward to this; get a ticket!

John Otway at the Pump, Trowbridge on Friday, and The Moscow Drug Club on Saturday, both worthy of your attention. Then, gawd blimey, it’ll be December. I’m trying to keep up and update as regularly as possible, including getting the biggies up for next year. Have a great weekend, keep a check on our event calendar for updates, and planning ahead.


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Review: Cracked Machine at the Southgate

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 ears……

Life got in the way, and the support- Clock Radio were regrettably missed on this occasion, one to look out for soon…

Wondering into a rammed Southgate just in time for Cracked Machine’s set we were aware of them clearly having a strong following.

How can we describe the sound? Heavy but relaxing? The strongest bass delivery you are likely to hear anywhere, incredible layering of sound from that bold bass, the prodigious lead guitar and backed with some fine, crisp delivery from the drums.

With no vocals, comes a name to hold court with musicianship. It didn’t appear to pose any pressure for this machine. We found ourselves captivated, enthralled entirely by something so different.

Our limited research prior to the gig, (we were encouraged to try by drummer Gary) threw up a tag of ‘space rock’. There’s not a huge amount of it anywhere in the world it appears, Germany and Japan seemingly the widest exponents.

Yet here we are in Devizes, in what guitarist Bill Denton proclaimed as ‘the best live music venue in Wiltshire’ watching space rock. (Ed’s note: yes, here’s a review of them at The Gate by Andy, from 2018.)

In the same way fans like ourselves might immerse their senses in big musical landscapes of say Pink Floyd, you find yourself in fact listening mesmerised, personally oddly relaxed…. there’s that driving bass and sufficient volume to shake the rafters, yet it’s like you’ve found yourself in the bars of Tatooine.

Years of music collecting and gigs have left no reference, no recollection of anything quite like it. So, chatting with the band, Prog Rock people often like them, space rock people love them, and as of yesterday so do we!

Check them out! I cannot remember the last time a band I liked left me with such difficulty describing their incredible music.

As ever and in full agreement with Bill, thank you Deb and Dave at The Gate for their unrivalled passion for live music in Devizes. Thank you to Cracked Machine, look forward to next time.


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Review: Is this the Blues? Beaux Gris Gris & the Apocalypse at the Corn Exchange

by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley

We cannot pretend we didn’t approach this gig with keen anticipation based on previous times this band has graced Devizes with a spot on their tour……

As ever they did not disappoint; line ups over the years have seen a few faces, but the core of the group, Robin and Greta, steers the band with a note-perfect delivery, showing their experience and musicianship. With a quality band, as always, backing them up, they launch into every song with a knowing smile, many assembled being familiars, the floor is filled with participation, dancing and joining in, especially with crowd pleaser ‘don’t let the bastards get you down’; rarely have we seen the roof raised in such style in Devizes.

Is this the Blues? Well yes, the contemplation of both the good, and bad in life in the well-crafted lyrics certainly say so. In its delivery, there’s showmanship, an ability to hold a crowd, to raise a roof, or usher in near silence at will. We would go with Blues-rock, if pressed for a genre, as it’s accessibility would please the ears of many who would not classify themselves as fans of traditional Blues.

What makes the tangible feeling of a real connection with the band? Perhaps this being Robin Davey’s hometown? Or his musical journey with game changing band, The Hoax, who formed in Devizes? Audiences are now treated to guest appearances on Beaux Gris Gris tours from the best musicians in the U.K. Blues scene from all the links and friendships that come with such a rich history as a professional musician.

For this gig Robin’s often-time stage mate Jon Amor was away with his band, and so we were treated to the incredible guitar playing of Scott McKeown. A new name to us, but more than impressive enough to warrant investigation in his own right.

This gig was a great example of the capacity of our town to draw top bookings. Perhaps we shall enjoy a return to form for our once popular venue in the Corn Exchange? Thank you to everyone who makes it happen and if you didn’t catch this one, check them out, you might just discover this is the Blues for you.


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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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Tutored Wine Tasting at St Mary’s Devizes

Discover your favourite glass of festive cheer at St Mary’s, Devizes this December 1st, and join in the uncorking of a selection of wines designed to make the festive season sparkle this Christmas…..

Renowned local vintner Casper Bowes will be on hand with entertaining insights and helpful hints to guide guests through a selection of wines guaranteed to add sparkle to the Christmas celebrations.

The masterclass will provide the opportunity to sample a range of wines from around the world in the unique historic setting of the Grade 1 listed building in New Park Street.

Co-founders of Bowes Wine, Casper and Victoria, who describe themselves as a ‘healthily wine-obsessed husband and wife team’, started the business in 2002 and focus on sourcing new and exciting wines from both the classic and lesser known regions of the world, with both young and older vintages in their sights.

The tasting, which starts at 6.30pm, aims to enable those imbibing to get a better understanding and appreciation of a wide range of specially selected wines.  The evening will finish with a glass of bubbly and light refreshments.

Tickets, which cost £25, can be purchased from Ticketsource and Devizes Books – visit www.stmarydevizestrust.org.uk for further details and to learn more about the plans to transform the building into a vibrant community arts venue for future generations.


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Deadlight Dance of the Dabchicks, and another Painted Bird

Glad I went to Aldbourne, for a freebie trio of must-see bands, including Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute Painted Bird, it was a great night, but…..

In 1987 I was but a 14 year-old Essex suburbian lad, who got his first taste of rural Wiltshire peering out of the back window of his Dad’s car to the Square in Aldbourne, realising places like this really exsist outside of picture books and peroid dramas.

Concerns of fitting into life in my new home never dawned on me, let alone how the natives would feel about my being here. Oblivious to cliqueines and class, snobby village girls turned their noses up while lesser-so ones seemed intrigued. I guess I was somewhat “exotic,” if “chav” before the word was even repopularised!

Maybe it was the latter which caused my male peers to view me as a threat, maybe it was because I was different, but for whatever insular reasoning some bestowed an abhorrence of me which came to an apex when I attempted a night at the social club, and a gang chased me all the way home. I never returned, until now.

Thirty-five years later I confess a slight feeling of apprehension, sitting in my car in the Square planning to enter the club. Moreso to see it in exactly the same location, up exactly the same stairs. Surely they’ve matured too, I’m as Wiltshire as lardy cake now, and they’ve ditched their pitchforks?!

A nostalgic side to me felt pleased to be here, after so long. Here for two reasons, firstly to see old school associate Tim, who I was reunited with at Mantonfest as bassist for Richard Davies & the Dissidents, in the newly formed duo Deadlight Dance, with his former sixform buddy, Nick. The pair have worked together in various groups since their sixform band, and Tim confided he liked it this way, just a simple friendly formula.

But this evening’s entertainment is a trio of bands, all with an Aldbourne connection. The second reason was to tick headline act, Painted Bird off my must-see list, a local Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute I’ve heard all good things about. I find the backstories of tribute acts fascinating, and why they chose the artist they did to attribute, particularly when it’s such a unique choice as Siouxsie Sioux.

Real name Nancy Jean, I set out firstly to discover her connection to the village by asking her if she was a Dabchick. For those unaware, it’s the name for those born in the village based on a folklore rare appearance of one on the village pond. But Nancy’s response in a rich Californian accent answered the question; she was married to her drummer, a born and bred dabchick, and they live in the village.

Nancy explained she had fronted a Siouxsie and the Banshees tribute in LA, applied for a similar role here, and created her own band around it. And I’m happy to report, they’re a highly skilled four-piece, able to recreate the magic of the punk era legends in an entertaining and accurate way. Nancy was also keen to point out the music took presidence over the look, still she looked and acted the part with meticulous precison too.

It was a superb show, as lively as retro-punk should be, and perfected, as they trekked through the discography of the Banshees and polished it off with two remaining tunes from a new project using the same band for original sounds under the banner KGB, which though twisted the style to metal, the punk imprint of the tribute remained subtly evident, which was fine by me and the enthused and tipsy crowd.

And it was a bloody good gig, with hospitable locals and staff. Leaving my preconceptions outside, this was quite the opposite of the shithole akin to someone’s garage with a few scattered pub tables in it it once was, but a modest contemporary function room, comfy and affordable; something every village needs but few seem to have aquired. Aldbourne should be proud. But all should note, I don’t hold a grudge against an entire village for the aforementioned incident, it’s water under the bridge, and besides, I’m fully aware a similar occurence would’ve happened in whatever village we landed in; just bored teenagers with nought else to do.

For the record both young and old were in attendance, age demographics know no boundaries at village venues, as Deadlight Dance kicked off proceedings.

Eighties new wave electronica is their game, angled toward the gothic alternative, which they executed with finesse and emotion. From a few originals Nick explained they were taking into the studio, to expected covers of Bauhaus and Joy Divison, it was the sort of serious music venue appreciation society type stuff, rather than universal village hall. Though what was particularly adriot in their set was a rendition of Heartbreak Hotel in their house style.

That said, if Devizes has an affectionate for electric blues, go east to discover a similar penchant for post punk, so this worked, and I stood beside goths and locals, equally appeased. It was almost like being back at St Johns in the eighties, save for lack of trippy science teacher, Dr Dodd!

Next up were also residents and bought their fanclub with them as they bounced on stage and wasted no time in blasting traditional punk covers from the dawn of the shortlived detonation direct into our faces. The Racket, they called themselves, and they were, though an accomplished racket, and it’s a guaranteed win-win to rouse a middle-aged audience with Ramones, Dammed, Elvis Costello and Blondie covers. Most diverse with a punky version of Kids From America, the Racket make for an ideal function band, for the aging punk aficionado. The girl upfront passionate about reproducing the genre, appeared as a cross between Debbie Harry and Katherine Tate, as though it bore hit parade pastiche of the lost era, they did it with bells on, and were as lively as the need be.

Then it was time for Nancy and her band, the bassist of which we’d seen guest in Deadlight Dance, to steal the show. Proir she asked me if I liked Siouxsie, and though I confirmed I did, made excuses for not being totally clued up. “You’ll know more than you think,” she responded, “we play all the hits.” And she was blooming right too, as their perfect renditions paid homage to Siouxsie and the Banshees, track recognition fell neatly out of my brain’s archive like a slot machine.

Locally touring with Mark Colton’s Blockheads tribute, Dury Duty, if tributes reside with no middle-ground, either being absolute shit, or absolutely brilliant, I’m pleased to report it’s the latter with Painted Bird. Local circuits tend not to clash, but any one of these featured acts should be made to feel more than welcome to pass border control and play the Vizes. Book em, Dano, and put their name in cutout newspaper letters for a poster!

Punk, alive and well and living in Aldbourne; who’d have thought it?!


REVIEW: Devizes Arts Festival’s Comedy Night @ Corn Exchange, Devizes – Friday 4th November 2022

An Early Night of Fireworks

Andy Fawthrop

Just when you’re least expecting it, a crackling night of comedy suddenly looms out of the Autumn mist.  Here we were on a Friday night for a 400-seat sell-out of the Corn Exchange for Devizes Arts Festival’s Comedy Night.…..

And a smashing little box of crackers it was.  First up on stage, and binding the whole evening together, was compere West Country native and Bristol comic James Redmond.  He’s previously been seen on BBC TV’s West Country Sitcom, and The Outlaws.  James’ style was laconic, laid-back and relaxed, poking gentle fun at a few of the locals up at the front.  Whilst some comperes can slightly overstay their welcome, serving only to delay the entry of the ”real” comedians, there was no danger of that here.  A few sparklers and then he was gone.

First up was Aideen McQueen, a late substitute, but no less good for that.  She proved her worth from the get-go with some hilarious material, and lived up to her reputation as one of the brightest sparks in the new generation of Irish comics.  She was cheeky, yet self-deprecating, and very funny with it, also choosing to delve into the front rows for some of her off-the-cuff impromptu material.  A real whizz-bang.

After the first interval, and some more of James Redmond, we were introduced to Stella Graham, a naturally funny stand-up comedian, writer and actor.  We learned that she was a half Sri Lankan gal from Coventry.  Plenty of riffing on lazy race stereotypes and another great set.  A Catherine Wheel of delights.

And finally, following a second chance to grab a drink at the crowded bars, was headliner of the night, the acclaimed comedian and professional hoaxer, Simon Brodkin.  He’s best known for handing Theresa May a P45 at the Conservative Party Conference and for showering Sepp Blatter with dollar bills at a FIFA press conference.   His longer set made no reference at all to these previous victories, and instead he delivered a full-powered main-stream stand-up set.  More delving into the audience, more riffing on D-Town’s somewhat back-water, country-bumpkin West Country reputation.  But it was very well handled, very funny, and without malice.  A spectacular rocket display.

All four comedians were spot-on with their material, read the audience well, and made lots of new friends in the room.  And it was refreshing to hear so much wonderful material delivered without descending into mere crudity and profanity.  Of course there was some swearing, and some near-the-knuckle topics, but it was well blended in and genuinely hilarious.  An excellent show.

The audience obviously loved it, and the evening served to clearly demonstrate (yet again) that there’s a real appetite for some comedy gigs in D-Town.  Interestingly, the best gigs (from a perspective of ticket sales) during the main Devizes Arts Festival recently were the comedy gigs (remember Scummy Mummies and Alfie Moore?)  Perhaps it’s time to get the old regular Comedy Club going again?

In sum – plenty of bangers, some sparklers and a real bonfire of the vanities.  And all this was delivered for a mere tenner – an absolute bargain in my book!  Great night out.


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Upcoming in Devizes; Nothing Rhymes With Orange’s Debut EP

The younger they are the more tempting it is to excessively praise, despite honest constructive criticism being far more helpful than flattery. So, I press play on these three tracks which make up the debut EP from Devizes-based teenage indie-pop band, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, with the intention of deliberately finding a possible downgrade or two, to convince you it’s not the case here, which is not as easy as it sounds……

It’s not even near beginners’ luck, that which we fondly reviewed their first single from the EP, Chow For Now, in October, and if I went in blind, I’ve a better perspective of where they’re coming from now, and predict very soon everyone will, least should.

The fact they’re releasing an EP called Midsummer bang central in autumn is the only bombast in me. This is unconditionally distinction-type stuff, the like I’d have said of a band of ten plus years of professional experience under their belts. Far from the odious din of antagonism and rage of many a youthful punk-pop experiment, which isn’t my preferred cuppa, this is universally age demographic spanning, appealing to all.

If they cite their inspirations from The Wombats, Smashing Pumpkins and Arctic Monkeys, my elderly soul picks out early Jam, and a plethora of bands from that late seventies, early eighties era. Mind, they also cite The Cure; I’m happy with that compromise, though suggest it’s never as gloomy as goth. Look at the picture, they bounce; Robert Smith never bounced!

Reason being it ticks every box is it’s shrewdly written with original angles on themes of fledgling passion and relationships, yet it’s lively, happy, beguiling, and danceable, and, concluding with a cliche word I don’t like to overuse but find myself in a position no better than to define it as “catchy.”

Recorded at The Badger Set Studios in Potterne and released this Friday, 4th November, if Chow For Now rides a degree of optimism in the despair of a relationship breakup, Creatures is equally as expectantly ingenious and dynamic, commenting on a larger picture of teenage delinquency, reminding me somewhat of Supergrass’ Alright, yet with far more punch. This one is simply anthemic, picture future fans singing back to them, perhaps even more than Chow. But while Manipulation reduces the tempo, proving the boys can execute the obligatory melancholic superlatively too, though subtly, the wordplay steps up another notch. Example; “you make manipulation seem like a lullaby, go get your education, I’m not your type of guy,” just, yeah, works.

You can pick these tunes apart and if the characters in Creatures, suggest they think they’re “cool because they don’t listen to the teachers,” I really hope your English teachers are listening to you, guys, for this is quality badinage, astutely written pop. To retort on my mockery of the EP’s name unfortunately inconsistent to the current season, these tracks were put down during the summer, in a barn in rural Wiltshire. Country schoolkids, huh? Typical, nothing better to do than hang around barns, picking up guitars and drums, practising like hell, precisely promoting, and marketing their outpourings, and coming out with this monstrously superb sound to upstage the best of our local scene, you should be ashamed of yourselves!

The original four-piece line up consists of frontman Elijah Easton on guitar, with the apt strain of adolescent sincerity in his vocals, Fin Anderson-Farquhar, also on guitar, and drummer Lui Venables, with bassist Ivor Ritson who since moved on to be replaced by Sam Briggs. Fast creating a loyal fanbase after reaching the finals of Riverbank Chippenham’s Take the Stage, they’ve managed their own sell out gig, and supported upcoming Carsick at Trowbridge’s Pump. I suggest you do yourself a favour, young and old, pre-save this EP here, ready for Friday, and keep a keen eye on these lads. They’re playing a Freaky Friday at St James Vaults in Bath, Friday 11th