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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Birthday Bash, Birthday Bash….

Alrighty then, not to blow my own trumpet, it’s time to mention our Birthday Bash again; case you forgot! Concern that it’ll be just me, crying into a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch, and Dean trying to pinch one is waning, as attention for our little party grows evermore, like a zit.

 
While I’ve asked nicely if The Gazette & Herald would be so kind as to give it mention, being it’s for charity, and I’d thought that’d bury a hatchet, it seems I’m talking to a brick wall, so I’m relying on word of mouth, and Facebook of course; you know what to do, sharing is caring!

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Oh, in addition, Sue Davis is going to ring me without inkling how grumpy I can be Saturday mornings, to allow my Dorset tones to ring over BBC Wiltshire radio-waves; I shall be live at 9:45ish. And of course, a special thanks goes to DJ Emma D, on the ones and twos at Fantasy Radio, who’s already given the bash a plug. While I’m unsure if she’d appreciate the tag DJ Emma D, I think it suits; make it a “thing!”

 
The best thing about it, this birthday bash I mean, other than we’re raising some Wonga for Cancer Research, is that all the acts playing were featured, or least fondly mentioned, back in the early days of Devizine, that long, long year ago.

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There was one which hasn’t been mentioned, the wildcard, Dirt Road Diary, but unfortunately, they had to cancel. Suggested by Dean, as we’re in conjunction with Dead Kool Country Promotions, which basically equates to Dean doing all the hard bits while I sprout gobbledygook and take control of insuring the drinks behind the bar are suitable for you; I’m nice like that.

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I’ll be honest with you, (as you know I always am!) I had deliberations about a country band playing our gig, as it’s not to everyone’s tastes, until I downloaded their EP, “Our Country,” released Spring 2018. You can download it here from their website, free; it has that tender slice of rock, like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, particularly tracks like “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.”

 
While I’ve no plans to don a ten-gallon hat and rustle in cattle with a lasso, I love it, there’s a great many references to Americana, box-cars, highways, etc, which may seem cliched given Dirt Road Diary are from Calne, but its authenticity overrides this notion and it drives a convincing country vibe. “The EP’s been receiving great reviews,” lead guitarist Mark Allen tells me, “culminating with us being nominated for the BCMAs people’s choice award to be announced during the awards ceremony on the 24th November.” I don’t do hard feelings, and I wish Dirt Road Diary all the best with this and future ventures.

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Our Country certainly convinced me to change my mind about Dirt Road playing, plus it would’ve given certainty to the times here that I’ve mentioned the ethos the Devizes Country Music Club, recently renamed Devizes Ameripolitan Music Club, likely for the very reason that it is not as one might at first suppose; line dancing is just a slither of the scope on offer, and the club plays host to some experimental and interesting bands. Dean Czerwionka has also recently launched The Devizes Family Club, also operating out of the Cons Club, so as one busy guy, I’m extremely grateful for his time on our birthday bash project.

 
So, are we one act missing I hear you screech, am I down to ten men? Not likely pal, is the answer, as the wonderful Jamie R Hawkins has been on the warmup bench for the whole season, unsure if trips to Switzerland for his recording his new EP might disable his availability to join us, but I’m delighted to announce, he can do it! Adding Jamie to our bustling line-up of local talent really is the icing on the birthday cake.

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Have no concerns, we do have cake, a black forest gateau should arrive, made by the Harcourt Hamsters of Chirton, and kindly donated by Beverly Borrill; I kid you not, check out our hammie feature story from earlier this year!

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Not forgetting Matthew Hennessy of Hennessyimages, who is our official photographer; as official photographer for DOCA and The Wharf Theatre too, provided he doesn’t upskirt me on the dancefloor, we’re delighted to have him.

 
With Dean, Matthew and Bev done, there’s so many others to thank, Carol and the Cons Club staff, of course, but especially Pete of our brilliant record shop and musical hub, Vinyl Realm, who’ve stepped in last minute to provide the PA, and hopefully operate too, as it’s way over my head.

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Most of all though, let’s thank the stars of the show, as no matter if I get my haircut for the special occasion or not, it’s not about me, it’s about the wealth of talented musicians who have kindly agreed to play for nothing but the love of their craft. Lottie J from Swindon you may well know; only fifteen with such a mature, soulful voice and keen writing ability. She’s one to watch, so get there at 6:30pm as she’s opening our show.

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Our Devizes lads, Sam and Finley, aka Larkin are next up, you got to love ‘em; we’ve been following their progress through the brilliant Set You Free debut album to their new EP. After this then, I treat you to the masterful song-writing of that porkpie-hat-wearing Trowbridge living legend Phil Cooper, who sent me his album “Thoughts and Observations of…” to review many moons ago. Phil’s been working closely with our recent addition Mr Jamie R Hawkins, they bounce off each other nicely and so, I think we should extend Phil’s slot, slide said Jamie in and let them play in whatever formation they wish to; it’s a win-win.

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Tamsin follows Phil and Jamie, Devizine’s middle name is Tamsin-Quin-Fan-Club, our first ever article was about her crowdfunding project for an album, which came to fruition as Gypsy Blood, so it wouldn’t be the same without her here.

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I’m also so delighted George agreed to come too, when I first met photographer Nick Padmore, he tipped me off about George Wilding, even prepared I was in awe of his natural ability, and I’d sing his praises to the moon and back, but they’ve probably heard of him there already. I have asked the amazing young painter, Miss Bryony Cox, who is also known for her love of singing, if she would like to join George for a song or two, appearing together in the past has proved to be a wonderful combination; not sure how far we got with this idea but I guess it’ll turn out whichever way on the night.

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And what an awesome night it’s due to be, with Swindon’s The Day Breakers as a finale; Cath and Gouldy, who now also gig as duo Sound Affects, I first discovered through the Devizes Scooter Club as the then Killertones, with their awesome brand of classic covers we can all have a dance at the end; honestly, I insist. Dean has even offered, unofficially, to show us how to dance the floss – another good reason not to miss it.

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Of course, I might be persuaded to say a few words of gratitude, alcohol levels permitting, but you know I’m not best in the spotlight; has to be a very dull spotlight, 20watt or less. We do, however have the brilliant Devizes poet Gail Foster, to entertain us with some witty verses during any tuning and downtime from the acts, so a massive thank you also, to our Gail.

 
A few have asked if they can bring children, whilst I confess, I’ve not arranged provisions or entertainment specifically for the kids, of course they are welcome, and free for under 16s. Who am I to deny kid’s entrance, after all I’m a big kid anyway?! There will be balloons, provided by Cancer Research, and maybe, if I get the time, or someone else could bring some pens and paper, I’d be more than happy to spend as much time as I can on the night, doing some doodles with them.

 
Any other questions or queries you may have, do send them as I’m not an event organiser and probably have overlooked a number of things.

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All I need now is you, oh and a buffet, which I’m working on, but no guarantees; if anyone would like to take this on, with the promise of free advertising on Devizine, I’d be enterally grateful if you get in touch asap. So please make sure you’ve had your dinner early, as it kicks off at 6:30pm, on Saturday, 10th November, and please come and enjoy yourself!

 
Tickets are £10, all proceeds, save a beer each for our acts, will go to the Devizes branch of Cancer Research. Get ticket at the club, at Vinyl Realm, online here, or message me if you’d like to reserve some, but there will be some on the door. Anyone on the guest list are welcome to donate to the charity if they so wish to do so, at the door.

Tickets Online Here

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Reaction to Wiltshire Traction

Waiting in the bushes by the railings of the train station my adolescent friends and I would crouch. Timed to perfection, upon seeing the train coming under the bridge, we’d start running.

Our eighties equivalent of electronic ticket gates was a lengthy leg, wrapped in dark grey trousers. Said leg was attached to a stout, greying moustached Scotsman, who, from his ticket office would suspend it to reach the wooden planked wall at the other end of the corridor leading to the platforms, infectively creating an impenetrable barrier.

If judged just right, we could enter the station at speed, skid on our knees under the protruding leg, pretend we didn’t hear his aggressive howl nor see his waving fist, pray he didn’t take up chase, scamper down those cast iron stairs onto the platform, and board the train to Chelmsford seconds before the whistle was blown!

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There it is, the train station at Witham; very little has changed save the digital clocks, you can even see the road bridge in the background we used to hide by!

Looking back the risk was hardly worth the reward; Chelmsford hardly a utopian paradise, yet it was our nearest larger town and had amenities above our own; namely a cinema and Wimpy bar.

We lived around trains, marvelled at their abilities and played by the line; the highly dangerous “chicken,” or at less extreme times laying slow worms on the track and betting sweets on which one would make it off before the train crossed; it was our sadistic version of pooh-sticks. But our obsession with trains was entirely practical, unlike my elder brother, who for a short chapter in his life paid pennies, actually paid, not for a ticket to travel rather for a “platform” ticket in which he and his nerdy, anorak-clad mates would stand writing train numbers in a book; God, how I laughed then, still do today.

Trainspotting was real, unsure if it still is, until Stroud’s Amberley Publishing kindly sent me a book to review titled Wiltshire Traction by Mark Jamieson. To buy a copy would confirm.

I confess I was intrigued by the prospect of reading a history of Wiltshire’s railways, being while home of the GWR plant in Swindon, anyone from our area under the age of Dr Richard Beeching’s act of axing several main lines in the sixties, doesn’t share similar fond but mischievous railway memories as mine above.

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Trains; choo-choo!

So, there’s me expecting an informative history of the railways here, from days of steam to date; my ignorance at the term “Traction” in its title. For what it’s worth it begins as such, a brief explanation of Wiltshire’s landscape, agricultural and industrial trades in an extract taken from Bradshaw’s 1861 Handbook of Great Britain and Ireland. The introduction then mentions the existing main lines, and GWR works, but only breezes over past lines before rambling headlong into some serious train-spotter jargon about major freight operators and where they operate.

This is the fashion this photo-book continues on, ergo I’d wager the series, which are all ingeniously titled “[enter county name] Traction,” are much the same. With no text hereafter the two-page introduction, save a complex blurb detailing traction models, serial numbers and which line it ran on, to which a train obsessed fruit bat might view the series as a biblical, the rest of us would remain baffled and mind-numbingly bored with at the passing of the second or third photo.

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More trains!

If you’ve only a passing interest in trains, as I, or you’re thinking “hey, maybe trainspotting might be a worthy hobby perusing,” I guarantee this book will put you off. You’d surely have to be a dedicated enthusiast to be entertained by this, but if you are, well then, buy Wiltshire Traction.

Perhaps I’m over-reacting but I’d like to have seen some narrative, what the trains meant to Wiltshire folk, how the Beeching Act affected their lives, what it’d have been like working at the GWR; all queries which could be answered with a visit to Steam in Swindon I suppose, yet this is a local book about trains I’d be hoping for, not an endless stream of similar photos of dirty trodden engines scooting through our green and pleasant land.

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And yeah, you guessed it. I don’t know what else I expected from a book about trains.

All said and done, needles are in the haystacks (an endless stream of traction engines running on lines images) as in between the barrage of train-spotter’s wet dreams, there are a few photos which caught my attention; one of the Intercity 125 in it’s glorious retro colours, the D818 Glory being scrapped at Swindon’s works, a class 08 overhaul also at the factory, and the new Hitachi-built class 800 units at Swindon station, but that about wraps it up for fear of donning an anorak; you, though, might like it.

Wiltshire Traction by Mark Jamieson

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Our Entire Area Becomes an Art Mecca with Marlborough Open Studios

Provided it’s large enough, I’ve been known to lose all track of time in an art gallery, and miss the last train home! But a gallery is one thing, this is another. July is Marlborough Open Studios month, the name of which in itself is quite misleading.

 
Although transport will help, a train to London is not needed, this is bang on your doorstep. The Open Studio concept transforms our beautiful landscape of the North Wessex Chalk Downs, which you know is breath-taking enough, into one massive interactive art exhibit, and something, well, quite unique.

 

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Jenny Pape

 
Beyond Marlborough, engulfing Calne to Hungerford, Wroughton to Chirton, a staggering forty-three of our finest artists open their studios and let you visit, to view their work in their own surroundings. You can meet them, perhaps their pets too, but I wouldn’t advise going through their pants draw like it was some tacky reality TV cooking show.

 
This is as far from a gallery as you can get and still remain in the world of art, but this is not a festival where you’ll be crammed into a tiny space with a million sweating, novelty back-pack-wearing young sybarites clutching bottles of water, all trying to dribble clichés over one painting. No, no, no; circulate at your own pace, use the website to check which studios are open, and visit at your leisure. There is no charge, just drop in when the studios are open; hence the name Open Studio, see?!

 

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Kareen Jackson

 
I guess you assess how formal you need to be by the greeting of each individual artist, but generally I’d imagine they’d be pleased to meet you. Artists, writers and creative people in general work in relatively solitude, twist their arm they might even put the kettle on; I might have to test this myself and get back to you on that!

 
So yes, Open Studios – July weekends: 7th-8th, 14th-15th, 21th-22th, 28th-29th. Check out the website here for browsing exhibiting artist as there’s too many to list here! The ones caught my eye are; beachcombing Kareen Jackson from Baydon, who transforms beach junk into unique hand-crafted driftwood boats, cottages and animals; so cute!

 

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Steven Davis

 
Also, Mary Wilkinson in Minal, for her Turneresque local landscapes, Hungerford’s Jane Corbett’s other-worldly glass sculptures, stunning Devizes photographer Steven Davis, in Chirton Diana Neale’s dreamy mixtures of photographs and watercolours, or Jenny Pape’s beautiful oil landscapes, Sally Osborne’s crazy fish glazes in All Cannings, and there’s so many more, just browse the website to see!

 

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Jane Corbett

 
Artists I’m well aware of but up for popping in to see too, are Bryony Cox, last year’s Bursary Award winner, who exhibits her paintings of vast skies over the Wiltshire landscape, Upstairs at Jacks in Devizes, and Anne Swan in Rowde who, with just colour pencils makes botanical studies you’d think you could reach in to the picture and take a bite out of!

 

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Bryony Cox

 
What a refreshing alternative to galleries, which you could take a whole month to peruse, at your own leisure, and not worry about missing the last train!

Marlborough Open Studios in July

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